Skip to content

Remembership, Part 12: Creating and Maintaining the Membership Program

[Editor’s Note: Membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner is back with this latest installment of Remembership, his retrospective series about the Uni Watch membership card program. Enjoy. — PL]

By Scott M.X. Turner

We all know by now that a uniform design doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, fully formed. There are preliminary concepts, false starts, prototypes, and more. The finished product often goes through a lot of revisions before it’s ready for prime time.

The same is true of the Uni Watch Membership Program. Paul and I didn’t just create it out of whole cloth — we had to envision what we wanted, I had to create lots of design concepts, and then we had a lot of back and forth between the two of us. Even as the membership project moved forward, we often had to make a lot of adjustments on the fly, mainly because the program grew far bigger than ever envisioned. We originally thought we’d max out at a “full roster” of 100 members, whose cards would be numbered 0 through 99, and that would be that. Seventeen years and more than 3,400 cards later, it’s clear that we underestimated the task ahead of us.

This week’s Remembership peels back the curtain on some of the program’s early design concepts and prototypes.


We’ve had two different front-card designs. The first was used from 2007 to 2019, and the second from 2019 to the present:

As you can see, the card on the left has a “Membership Level” designation. That’s because we originally had different sign-up levels with different pricing. (“Silver Medal” was the highest, because Paul likes silver better than gold.)

For the card on the right, you’ll see the “foil stamping” that we awarded to notable-number members. More on that coming up.

In 2008, we got rid of the different-priced levels and just went with a single price point, so we replaced the “Membership Level” designation with “Member Since,” reflecting the enrollee’s sign-up date. We explored a couple of different approaches to the date:

The version at top left is the one we ended up using.

We wanted the cards to evoke classic membership cards of the past — the kind of card that would make someone proud to say, “I’m a card-carrying member” — so we tinkered with several different fonts for the names and dates:

We ultimately went with option No. 1, a typewriter font called Adler. It’s a good font, but I had to be careful, because Adler’s “1” looks like an capital “I.” Happily, its lowercase “L” looks like a “1.” Happenstance has always looked favorably upon Uni Watch.

For the back of the card, members have always had the option of choosing a design based on a real-life team or going with the “Uni Watch style.” But what would that Uni Watch style look like? I experimented with a few different designs, and we ultimately chose the one shown at the bottom of this next grouping:

As you can see, burgundy was still part of the Uni Watch color scheme at the time (and lives on today, if just barely, as part of the decorative border around every membership card). Meanwhile, why did I add a watermark behind the names and numbers? I have no idea, but that didn’t survive past the prototype stage.

The banner logo on the Uni Watch website underwent several design updates over the years (there was the hanging stirrup and then the magnifying glass, both of which were designed by me, and then the winged stirrup, which was designed by Bryan Molloy), but the front-card design did not. By 2019, we felt like it was finally time to update the front of the card. Here are some concepts I prepared:

The one at bottom left is the one we ultimately chose.

For those foil commemorative seals that I mentioned earlier, Paul wanted to commemorate milestones every 100 enrollments. We did that until the 1,000th member, Brooks Baker, in December 2010, and then did it again for the 2,000th member, Brad Thompson, in January 2019:

For the 1,000th and 2,000th cards, Paul suggested a special commemorative front design. Here are some of the concepts we tried for the 1,000th member:

Ultimately, for reasons I don’t remember, we ended up combining Paul’s least-favorite colors, purple and gold:

For the 2,000th member, we thought about taking a different approach:

We ended up not using any of those concepts and instead just used the standard front-card design with the foil seal.

Even the smallest elements can involve a lot of concept designs. When members started ordering second and third cards, Paul wanted to commemorate “charter members” who’d been with the program since the beginning. [I forget how we defined “from the beginning” — maybe from the program’s first 12 months? — Paul] As with those foil centenaries, we tried different seals for the front of the cards. We settled on a red-white-and-blue design:

All those concepts — and how many members actually got that seal on their cards? Exactly four. Sometimes an idea just doesn’t take root.

Finally: While digging through my old files to find all these prototypes, I came across two designs that are so weird and bizarre that I have to include them here, even though they’re not connected to the Membership Program. The first is based on an old Spalding catalog cover. As for the other … I have no fucking clue:

At the very least, I hope these these two concepts give a sense of the joy I’ve felt designing for Uni Watch for the last 20 years.

Next Week: The final Remembership.

Comments (10)

    The membership card is one of my favorite parts of the Uni Watch experience.

    Great interview on Brodie Brazil’s YouTube channel yesterday, Paul!

    I was sorting through my membership cards the other day and noticed my first card had the Wool Flannel level designation and I tried to remember how that came about. Glad you posted this.

    The design based on the Spaulding logo is incredible. Would absolutely purchase a hat with that.

Comments are closed.