After months of teases growing to a crescendo the past week, fans were promised a #NewCrew and the team delivered on Wednesday evening with a new badge that respects the past, but further cements the team's ties to the city of Columbus. In front of a packed house at the LC Pavilion, team investor-operator Anthony Precourt lifted the curtain on the first major evolution of the team's identity since the original branding in 1995.
With the old Crew identity about to be swept aside, the team first honored the past. Emcee Brian Dunseth recalled his time in Columbus and the team's Open Cup victory in 2002. MLS Commissioner Don Garber talked about the legacy of Crew Stadium and "Dos-a-Cero". Precourt recounted that the Crew are the first professional sports team to win a championship in Columbus.
As Precourt shifted from the nostalgia of the Crew past he looked to the future and what he wanted the team to stand for going forward. The refrain was consistent, authentically Columbus. He envisioned the city and the team working together to build something great and how the logo reflected that.
The new circular badge incorporates the same black and gold and the team name, but overhauls the visuals. Gone are the anachronistic construction workers and in it's place is something conceptual. The concentric circles containing the Columbus Crew SC wordmark surrounding diagonal lines and the checkerboard pattern.
The team's branding statement talks about the meaning each part of the design on the new badge. Those statements can devolve into marketing speak, but some of the intents were crystal clear. "Columbus" now has a prominent place at the top of the badge, better reflecting the city that the team calls home. The use of the checkerboard motif and the placement of the "96" shield on the badge are clear nods to the fans and the history of the club. The checkerboard is a visual seen in the Nordecke on game days. Now there is a direct tie-in to the club's identity. The "96" shield affirms the team's place as a founding member of MLS. The shape echoes the original logo.
The team's name also changed to better reflect what the team represents. The design team thankfully skipped adding a soccer ball to the badge, but the addition of SC to the team name - and badge - cements that this is a soccer club that represents the city of Columbus and the state of Ohio. The name is handsomely displayed in a timeless athletic themed font.
Interestingly, the Crew chose to keep the project in house as they worked to build the new brand. The design team pulled in inspiration from around the world as they set to build the team's new visual identity. The circular design recall German Bundesliga crests while the inner circle draws inspiration to the "O" in the Ohio state burgee. The full rebranding will take effect for the 2015 season.
Beyond the marketing speak and talk of repositioning in the market, there was one big tangible result at the end of the night; there is an excitement around this team. The crowd roared as if Higuain had just scored a playoff winner as the logo was revealed. The line merchandise table quickly grew quite deep as people lined up to get their new t-shirts and hats. Others stopped to get pictures taken with the giant logo board of the badge outside the hall. That's a good start as the team charts a new path.