Creating a fictional brand is as challenging as one in the real world, as Nomad discovered when they crafted designs for award-winning children’s drama Jamie Johnson FC.
London design studio Nomad are no strangers to designing football kits: we previously covered the strip they created for East London women’s community football club Hackney Laces. But this latest project is a little different because the football team in question doesn’t exist in real life.
Hawx United is the fictional football team within the BAFTA and Emmy-nominated BBC children’s drama Jamie Johnson FC, based on the books by Dan Freedman. It’s a spin-off from the original series following the eponymous character as he negotiated secondary school and issues at home, along with being a talented footballer.
The new series transfers the action to the world of elite academy football and features several cameos from footballers past and present, such as Gary Lineker, Steph Houghton, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez.
Nomad was introduced to the project by a client, Short Form Film Company, who works directly with the BBC. The two companies had previously worked together rebranding another children’s drama show, Jamie Johnson. Although Jamie Johnson FC wouldn’t launch until October 2023, the project of developing the kit design began back in April 2022 due to the time demands of kit production and filming,
Nomad founder Stuart Watson explains that the brief for the kit design was “to create a unique fusion between football and fashion. Modern yet not ‘of the moment’, the logo needed to last a lifetime, with the design around it clever enough to move with the times.
“We created a logo that lived seamlessly in the world of football crests whilst having strong American campus vibes,” he adds. “Designed to create a clear sense of community, with maximum desirability by viewers of the show. The fashion elements of the brief, for application across kits and swag, were taken from the crest with a timeless and adaptable pattern inspired by feathers and birds in flight.”
The identity was brand new to the series, he adds. “We started with the crest and explored many different routes, all based on the language of football. The hawk symbol resonated so well and tied in perfectly with the show’s values around community, making it a clear winner to expand from.”
Language of feathers
Once they had locked in on the hawk-based crest, the team then explored the graphic language. “We felt there was a beautiful language in feathers that we’d not yet seen in football,” says Stuart. “The sense of movement in the feather pattern felt perfect, and the fact that we were able to hide an ‘X’ in the pattern made it all the more special.”
The number design was also a big part in creating character through the kit design for Hawx, he adds. “We wanted the hawk wing language to be as visible on the front of the shirt as the back to reinforce team recognition and to create a desire for the shirt with those distinctive numbers, hopefully resulting in viewers wanting to be part of the team and community.
The wordmark, he adds, is completely bespoke, and the distinctive colour palette was largely inspired by location. “Filming took place at Leeds Beckett University, specifically at their sports centre with its iconic red exterior,” Stuart explains.
“This became the brand colour for Hawx, bringing energy and passion to the team. As we knew most of the brand would be seen through a TV, it also made sense to lead with red for maximum stand out on camera.”
Branding at its best
Seeing the kit in situ was a real high point for the team, says Stuart. “Brands are at their best when they are in their intended environment,” he explains. “Going to watch an episode of the show being filmed and seeing everything come together was a massive moment. The kitted-out training campus, the actors in their full kits, the coffee cups in the cafeteria, the academy signage, the caps on the fans and the painted crest in the middle of the field.”
And he’s proud of Nomad’s designs, which continue a strong tradition for the studio. “Working with the Premier League, WSL, Hackney Laces, and Hope United has given the studio a strong understanding of football culture and design,” he explains.