Part of our ongoing “Creating Soccer” series spotlighting the workhorses of the American Soccer Marketing and Design. These are the men and women who are called upon to create, market and produce most of the soccer we consume.
Leslie Lopez is a Mexican native who has been a part of the Houston Dynamo organization since 2007. Working her way up from Intern to Design Manager Leslie has been a part of the Dynamo’s transformation into one of Houston’s major sports teams. She has helped usher a new era for the club when it opened its new BBVA Stadium in mid-2012 by creating the identity for the new venue. Still a young and up and coming designer, Leslie has gained valuable experience by adapting and navigating all the challenges that come from working in a young sports team with limited budgets and very little resources.
Name: Leslie Lopez
Hometown: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Current Position: Design Manager
Company: Houston Dynamo
Website: www.leslievlopez.com / www.houstondynamo.com
1. Tell us a little bit about your professional background history.
I went to school at the Art Institute of Houston and basically that’s how I got to meet the Dynamo. We had a Design Team class where one of the projects was to design a mascot for the Houston Dynamo. It would then go to online voting, and they would bring it to life. My partner and I won the contest and that’s basically how I started as an intern for the club.
2. Were you a soccer fan before working in the soccer industry?
Actually, no. I had no interest in soccer … I was really in to the NBA at the time, but once you work in sports, it consumes you and now I really can’t sit through any other sport. I love the beautiful game.
3. How has being at the Dynamo your entire career benefit you as a professional?
It’s completely made my career. I have gotten opportunities that otherwise I wouldn’t have and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.
4. The Dynamo hit the ground running when they moved from San Jose and were quickly accepted by the community, did this make it harder or easier to market the Dynamo?
Luckily I started in 2007 after the Dynamo established themselves with a championship in their first year. Marketing them in 2007 and 2008 was quite easy. We just stuck with the back-to-back champs tag.
5. When designing or creating a campaign what is the sort of the key elements the Dynamo try to hit?
We like to make our players more personable and also play up the fans. They’re the reason we’ve gotten our championships and our stadium.
6. Since you started, has the Dynamo creative strategy changed?
Not really, we have a strong brand and we just like to put that in people’s faces. Forever Orange has been a staple of the Dynamo.
7. What are some of the most difficult challenges about working as a creative person at the Dynamo?
I would say that because we are a young league and team, we don’t have the same budgets as some of the other teams out there. Therefore for most of my tenure at the Dynamo, I was single-handedly creating all the graphics for the club. Luckily, that’s changed and I have a very good designer on my team.
8.With the new stadium has focused shifted from less about selling tickets to more about building a brand?
I think the main purpose of most sports organizations is to sell. We’re building a brand for BBVA Compass Stadium, but we have to do it simultaneously with selling tickets.
9. What has been your favorite project(s) that you have worked on?
BBVA Compass Stadium logo, a 2010 World Cup bracket that we used as a giveaway, and the Houston Chronicle wall in the stadium.
10. What are some of the things you look to change in the future for the Dynamo? I think we have a strong creative and business plan. For now, I think what we’ve done has worked.
11. In terms of MLS what are some of your favorite projects(a logo, campaign, ad, ect) that you’ve seen?
I really liked the Futbol. Football. Soccer. Campaign … I thought it was strong and I understand the concept well.
12. Do you think MLS as a whole is doing a good job in the marketing of league itself? I believe so. There’s still some soccer haters out there, but I believe the league is turning them one by one.
13. What sort of advice would you have for a young designer who may want to get into soccer?
Be prepared for long hours, young and fun co-workers, and at the end of the day just take it all in. It’s hard work, but it pays off.
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