The Hex indentity and branding process

I plan on revealing the Hex project via the blog at Aston Villa Central tomorrow (Saturday), so I wanted to take some time here to explain how the identity and branding came about, and the meaning behind the design.

I wanted to choose a name that made reference to the most beautiful elements of the beautiful game, at least in my own eyes. Like a lot of football fans at the moment, I get a lot of pleasure from watching Spanish football, specifically Barcelona and their national side, but there’s plenty to enjoy throughout the Iberian peninsula.

It won’t be any great surprise to learn that the first word or phrase that leapt into my head, then, was “Tiki-taka”; the short passing style most closely associated with Spain right now.

But, like most things in life, football evolves, it travels through trends, cycles, phases – call it what you will – and Tiki-taka might be in vogue now, but what about in a decade or two? Decades? How about years?

So I got to thinking more about what makes Tiki-taka work. Using Barcelona as the obvious example, I began doodling the formations and systems that they favoured, predominately the attacking 4-3-3 with Lionel Messi in the familiar false nine role and Sergio Busquets the defensive anchor between the two centre-halves and the more creative central midfield partnership ahead.

Of course, this is just one system and there are many, many components that come together to make Barcelona so deadly, it would be folly to try to boil it down to any one element, but I was nevertheless drawn to the seven players forming something of a hexagon between the goalkeeper and the front three.

Barcelona like to strangle their opponents by dominating possession until they find a weakness and finally break through. It’s too pretty to label it “attrition”, but “submission” wouldn’t be far away. The key to maintaining possession is to keep the ball moving by passing quickly and accurately – which is what Tiki-taka is all about after all – and the key to passing quickly and accurately is triangles.

If a player always has at least two passing options open to him, he stands a very good chance of taking a simple choice to put the ball wherever his opponent is not. Good players are always looking to give their team mates passing options and work collectively in little triangles. It’s a fundamental principle.

I went back to my seven core players, squished them into a proper hexagon, twisted it through 30 degrees, and connected the dots (players) with direct lines of sight. Triangles everywhere, baby!

So, I now had my name, Tiki-taka, and I had the basis for the logo.

But the more I played with the logo, the more I could see that it was overly complex and really wouldn’t scale down very well. The name was also a little too trendy, it probably wouldn’t stand the test of time.

I started thinking again about Barcelona, this time the much vaunted “Barça DNA” was on my mind. DNA led me to think about the double helix shape and that brought me right back to the geometry of triangles and the hexagon.

Double Helix.

Hexagon.

Helix.

Hexagon.

Hex.

Done. It’s simple, I like it. But I still don’t like the logo.

I wanted something simple, something that used hexagons, something that would evoke the double helix. I began playing around with intertwining first two, then three hexagons, and very quickly arrived at this:

I call it, imaginatively, the “Triple Hex” and, until very recently, this was essentially the final design. It wasn’t the final, final design though, but to explain how the last tweak came about I’ll need to explain what exactly Hex is.

What Is Hex?

Right now, Hex is, or is about to be, a tee-shirt company. Yup, merch. The identity has obviously been important to me from the inception as I want to develop a brand that represents the football culture and philosophies that resonate with me. The aim is to try to capture moments, or themes, within football that form the lexicon we’ve built to understand and discuss the game.

I don’t have the time, the resources, knowledge or experience to make my vision a reality from the outset, so I’m basically bootstrapping this little venture. I’m using a print on demand service to get going, and I hope it will allow me to get to the stage where I can do my own printing and control the whole experience of purchasing a Hex product.

Using a print on demand service – I’m using Spreadshirt – will have its own set of pros and cons. The zero start up costs and overheads are obvious pros, the technical restraints are one of the cons. In this case though, a con turned into a win.

Unless it just doesn’t work for some reason or another, I want the triple-hex logomark to feature somewhere in every design, but I ran into an issue with tee-shirt numero uno. I found that I wasn’t able to scale the logo down to a suitable size whilst meeting the technical requirements of the plotter, so initially went the obvious route of going as small as I could.

I wasn’t comfortable with it though, it was still too big. I looked again at the logo to see if there was room to make a slight snip, and I found that a fairly significant snip gave me exactly what I wanted and actually improved the design.

By removing the legs that went down behind each of the next hexagons, I could achieve my goal from the tee-shirt printing perspective, It allowed me to formally add the outer bands in as standard for normal use, but drop them to retain only the inner part when I need some extra space for the printing process. Those outer bands also then allow for some fun alternative colourways.

So there you have it. That was the process behind the creation of a very simple logo that hope you’re going to see much more of in the future.

Please take time to visit either the UK Hex Tee-store or the US Hex Tee-store.