The Full 90

MLS unveils new brand identity and crest ahead of 20th season

Next season will mark the 20th season of Major League Soccer. There will be two new teams (New York City FC and Orlando City), big names joining the league (Kaka, David Villa and Frank Lampard) and a really big new TV deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision.*

*There also might be a work stoppage depending on how the collective bargaining agreement discussion goes, but that’s not really a conversation for today.

To go along with what the league is calling its “evolution,” the league has unveiled a new brand identity and crest. The previous logo — a cleat kicking an old-style soccer ball — had been in existence since the league was founded in 1996.

 

Being that we are in the modern age of marketing and re-branding, each element means something.

According to the league’s site, and I quote:

“SLASH: The slash refers to soccer’s speed and energy. The slash begins outside the perimeter and drives upward at a 45-degree angle to illustrate both the nonstop nature of our game and the rising trajectory of our league. It bisects the crest to create a “first half” and “second half.”

STARS: The three stars represent the pillars of our brand: For Club, For Country, For Community.

PERIMETER: The perimeter represents the lines that mark off the field of play.

FIRST HALF AND SECOND HALF: The first half contains MLS and the three stars. The second half is an open white space that brings you in and out of the MLS world.”

*I suppose the kickstand is there to help prop up the logo should it fall over?

“We have etched a new milestone in our future today – a culmination of the many monumental changes that have positioned us for rapid growth,” said Howard Handler, MLS chief marketing officer said in a press release. “In the last 18 months, we have introduced new teams, new soccer-specific stadiums, an eight year, multi-million dollar media rights partnership, and our owners have made significant investments to sign world-class athletes. Together, these elements have led to the realization that our current brand is no longer a proper representation of the league we are and want to become.”

If you want to read more about the logo itself, MLS-scoop master general Brian Strauss at Sports Illustrated has a look behind the re-brand.

There’s also a nifty FIFA 15-assisted promo video.

By itself, the logo is fairly generic. However, when you start thinking abut other logos, a lot of major leagues have sort of generic logos: NFL, English Premier League, Major League Baseball and Spain’s La Liga spring to mind.*

*The gold-standard, in my mind, is the NBA. It’s the perfect logo.

Generic is sort of the point. A league logo is supposed to be the second (or third or lower) most visible element on team merchandise — the team logo, obviously, is supposed to be first. Not many people are on the hunt for league-logo gear.*

*At least I hope not.

One of the interesting features is that the there are club versions of the crest — it’s extremely versatile, color-wise.

 

The logo also looks pretty decent alongside most of the team logos and looks, in my opinion, fairly sharp on the kits.

My two cents: For a logo that, primarily, will appear only on the sleeves of the jerseys, as a tiny speck on your Sporting KC coffee mug or as a small mark on the tag of a team hoody it’s not that bad. I think teams can also, hopefully, explore the white space so to speak.

But, this being the age of Twitter, opinions on the new logo were fairly mixed. Some hated it out right; some felt it underwhelming and too generic.

There were a few voices of optimism amongst the snark.

My favorite takes? People who had takes on everyone else’s takes.

I think this is the line of logic I most agree with:

Also, Seattle Sounders midfield Brad Evans wins Twitter as he usually does.

There have been quite a few funny takes on the logo sprouting up on Twitter too. Open Wide For Some Soccer has a good explainer too.

What do you think? Is it terrible? Unnecessary? Perfectly fine? Or just not important.

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