March 20, 2019

POSTED BY

Rafael Esquer

CATEGORY

The Legend Behind the Football Badge: Club Universidad Nacional

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Club Universidad Nacional was officially founded on August 2, 1954. The club first appeared in the Second Division, and was quickly nicknamed “Los Pumas.” For the initial seven years, the team didn’t have a set logo. It was not until 1961 when the first official badge was introduced which showcased …

new york branding sports graphic design agency

Club Universidad Nacional was officially founded on August 2, 1954. The club first appeared in the Second Division, and was quickly nicknamed “Los Pumas.” For the initial seven years, the team didn’t have a set logo. It was not until 1961 when the first official badge was introduced which showcased a gold slab serif “U” adorned with the three colors of the Mexican flag running diagonally and a simple illustration of a soccer ball. When the team made it to the first division in 1962, it debuted a new badge made up of three elements: An amateur drawing of a puma, a soccer ball, and the National University’s acronym (U. N. A. M.).

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In 1973, Alejandro Cadaval Torres, who was the university’s Sports Director, commissioned Mexican graphic designer Manuel Rodríguez ‘El Pajarito’ to create a new badge. For inspiration, Mr. Rodríguez repeatedly visited the Chapultepec Zoo to draw live pumas. It took him three months and more than 800 sketches to arrive at the current design. The brilliant new design was presented on April 20, 1974.

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One of the original sketches created by Manuel Rodríguez ‘El Pajarito’

What does everything mean in this iconic badge? First of all, without being ‘on your face’ the design seamlessly integrates meaning, history, values, and aesthetics. El Pajarito used a restrained color palette of gold and blue, an elegant rendering of a puma, and a clever use of positive and negative design elements. Let’s examine the elements that make this a winning badge:

  • The triangular shape represents the university’s three fundamental ideals: Education, research, and cultural dissemination
  • The main element is a stylized face of a puma which pay homage to the unoffical name of the team, Los Pumas
  • The gold shape in the center also creates the silhouette of a fist
  • The letter U, formed in the center of the badge, stands for Universidad
  • The negative space between the mouth, nose, and eyes forms the shape of a trophy
  • The blue and gold color palette was inspired by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. In 1927, brothers Alejandro and Leopoldo Noriega, formed an American football team using the Notre Dame colors which were adopted by the soccer team

In 2013, British newspaper The Guardian ranked this badge among the “six weird and wonderful football club crests” of the world. Journalist Josh Ashdown mentions that he included it for purely aesthetic reasons since the logo brings to mind the golden fist of ancient Aztec demigods.

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Manuel Rodríguez ‘El Pajarito,’ creator of the iconic logo, shows his design process

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