Michael Benford, was hired by the Atlanta Falcons in 2002, becoming the organization’s first in-house designer. His early work centered around designing and producing content for atlantafalcons.com, and the value of having an in-house design professional quickly became apparent; even Benford’s early work conveyed the grander visions of both the Falcons organization and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. His reward was a wave of promotions, beginning with Creative Service Coordinator and growing once again in 2007 to Creative Services Manager.
During this time, Benford’s talents were used to not only design traditional media such as print advertisements, marketing and sales, collateral, and team media guides but also in the field of branding. Benford became involved in the complete rebranding of the team logos and uniforms and worked to infuse the new brand standards across all team communications.
As the organization continued experiencing its own substantial changes, Benford’s experience with branding, coupled with his creative direction and managing skills, helped chart the course. This ever-changing role was strengthened by each challenge and new project he led the Creative Services Group through, and his ability to unite internal, external, and agency talent to get the job done, generated even more opportunities.
Benford and his creative teams excelled at staying ahead of traditional and non-traditional media trends, but in 2011, he took it all a step further by becoming the team’s new game-day photographer. Already deeply-passionate about photography, Benford created this opportunity for himself in order to capture the brand through his images, and he reimagined game-day photography in the process. He recently added the role of managing photography for the Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Atlanta United.
Benford also created the look and feel of the annual Falcons Rise Up campaigns, several team publications, created an immersive fan experience for the teams Super Bowl LI headquarters in Houston, launched various premium seating campaigns and created the team’s first-ever style guide to standardize the brand and the vision it serves. A huge opportunity was seized by Benford and the AMB Sports & Entertainment Group Creative Team in 2015 as they left their indelible imprint on the organization and created the logo that would be used for Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The process included capturing the identity package needed to serve the Mercedes-Benz naming rights deal while introducing the “personality of the building in a clean and modern way.” Today, it is considered one of the 13 best stadium logos in the world.
Like his other work, Benford’s role with stadium went beyond the logo. He directed the creative for way-finding, sponsor integration, food and beverage and environmental graphics as part of his development of the design language of the dazzling $1.5 billion venue, and also oversaw the award-winning creative efforts behind the launch of Arthur Blank’s new MLS franchise, Atlanta United, in 2017.
Benford has served as the Creative Director of AMB Sports + Entertainment since 2016 and continues to lead a team of internal and external design professionals and agency partners to drive visibility and value for the organization and brand.
Prior to coming to the Falcons in 2002, Benford worked for Ignite Sports Media, where he was involved in the design and maintenance of web properties for professional sports teams and Leagues which included 13 NFL clubs including the Falcons as well as the Major League Baseball and NHL sites.
Also, Benford owned and operated Benford Creative, a small design agency that worked with key players in the sports and entertainment industry. Clients included former New York Yankee Alfonso Soriano, entertainment icon Usher and his “New Look Foundation” and Major League Baseball pitcher Ryan Dempster’s “Family Foundation and Generation On.’’
Growing up in Matawan, NJ, Benford’s creativity began at a young age. He started mastering the guitar and attended Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL., an entertainment, media and arts school.
While living in the historic Cabbagetown District of Atlanta, Benford continues to dabble in music, travels to various cities shooting photos and enjoys sharing his experiences and mentoring aspiring creative and sports management professionals.