The coming rebrand for FC Cincinnati’s jump to MLS is going to be here before you realize it. If you take a look at any league in the United States and Canada, you’ll find a wide range of crests from great, to really, really, bad.
FC Cincinnati has apparently hired Interbrand to perform the club’s full rebrand. They announced that colors would remain orange and blue and that the moniker “FC Cincinnati” would not change despite the legal name of Fußball Club Cincinnati replacing Futbol Club Cincinnati. Interbrand is behind many high-profile designs including, most notably to FCC Fans, the highly controversial Juventus rebrand (personally, I think it’s phenomenal, but not best for FCC). Interband is an international design agency with offices all over the world. The Cincinnati office has been responsible for brands such as ExxonMobil, Corona, Häagen-Dazs, Nissan, and P&G.
We started thinking about which crests/logos we like, and decided to put together a vote among the Die Innenstadt Board to determine what our collective favorite crests/logos are from all leagues in the United States and Canada (No Canadian Premier League clubs were included because of the timing of the vote, but you can see some of the new logos at the league's website here). Each board member ranked their top 5 logos from a list we compiled of our favorites. A first place vote from someone gave the logo 5 points, a second place vote gave a logo 4 points, etc. Below are the top five picks, but first, we’ll look at a few honorable mentions that didn’t get the votes, but are still worthy of a shout-out.
Detroit City FC
Whatever your opinions are about Detroit City or its fans, there’s no denying that they have a wonderful crest. Featuring the Spirit of Detroit, this crest is indistinguishably Detroit without going to the tired motifs of The Motor City and Motown Records. Detroit City FC plays in the NPSL.
San Francisco City FC
The club’s crest has its flaws. The excessive number of periods in the title is a bit cumbersome, and the color scheme screams “Germany!” to me. Despite its flaws, identifiable features from the city are prominently displayed including the Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica Pyramid, and Sutro Tower. The club is also 51% supporter owned! This crest is a great example of what lower division soccer crests can be. They currently play in the PDL.
Lowcountry United FC
This is an example of a crest that perfectly fits the region it represents, but isn’t the type of crest you would want in Cincinnati. The Lowcountry is the marshland in South Carolina near the border with Georgia. Like New Orleans and Savannah, time moves slower here and the yellow and orange color scheme really brings out that feature. The crest features the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston and the crescent moon from the South Carolina state flag. Lowcountry United FC plays in the United Premier Soccer League.
Kansas City Comets
An indoor soccer team with a remarkable logo, the Kansas City Comets don’t have a true “crest”, but their logo deserves recognition. They started out as the Detroit Lightning in 1979, but moved to Kansas City in 1981 after a brief stint as the San Francisco Fog. The team was resurrected from 2001-05, but they abandoned their logo for an atrocious design. Luckily, when the team was brought back in 2010, they returned to their early-80s masterpiece. It may not be a crest, but it’s one of the best logos in soccer. The Kansas City Comets compete in the Major Arena Soccer League.
Asheville City SC
Brought to our attention by Bob Brumberg after voting, Asheville City SC has a simple crest that has a look reminiscent of an old Premier League logo. It’s a clean crest with some stretched letters to display an “A” and “C” for Asheville City with the top of the Asheville City Hall in the center. It's also pretty cool that Hi-Wire Brewing sponsors their kits! They host a men’s team in the NPSL and a women’s team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
Top 5 Crests:
#5 – Las Vegas Lights FC - USL (10 Points)
Really? Las Vegas? Yes, Las Vegas. According to our board, this is the fifth best crest in all of US/Canadian soccer. Vegas is a difficult city to create a brand for that feels authentic, without being too gaudy. The crest keeps a very normal shape and a surprisingly simple design by using the shape of the infamous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and rotating it 90 degrees. It utilizes one of the prominent features of Las Vegas – its neon lights – and makes a logo that is unmistakably Vegas. The color palette uses traditional neon colors of blue, yellow, and a splash of pink. It’s a divergent design that manages to stay in the bounds of a traditional crest.
#4 – FC Wichita – NPSL (12 Points)
This club uses elements of the city’s flag for its inspiration. It’s symmetric, clean, simple, and identifiable. Grain on either side represent the major industry in this part of the country, and the Native American symbol is representative of “permanent home,” which is an amazing symbol for a soccer team, that is supposed to be all about where you’re from. This is a high quality crest, and deserves a spot in our top five.
#3 – Tormenta FC – PDL (12 Points)
Like Juventus' rebrand, this is another example of a crest that I wouldn’t want FC Cincinnati’s new look to have, but one that is wildly good at what it does. It takes some confidence to design a lower division crest that doesn’t have the team’s name in it. South Georgia Tormenta FC is the rare example of one that works almost flawlessly. Based in Statesboro Georgia just off the East Coast of the United States, this crest features an American white ibis. According to one of the artists behind the crest: "It’s the last animal in Southern Georgia [that goes] into hiding before a hurricane and the first to come out after,” Klein said. “We love the story and made it the focal point of the crest. It’s really important to incorporate a hometown story into your crest that gets fans talking and has significance."
Once you know who this team is, you’ll never forget the name.
#2 – Brooklyn Italians – NPSL (19 Points)
This team has been a feature in US Soccer since 1949. They’ve won the US Open Cup twice (1979, 1991). The predominant color on the badge is blue, like the Italian national team’s kits. They have green and red accents on the sides to pay homage to the Italian flag. Two stars adorn the US flag at the top of the Brooklyn Bridge – the most recognizable symbol of Brooklyn. The stylized bridge is what makes this crest so good. It’s unfortunate that this crest exists, because it would look great with the (older and more beautiful) Roebling Suspension Bridge and “FC Cincinnati” adorning the crest. The only downside of this crest might be the tiny American flag at the top of the bridge that breaks up this extremely clean design.
#1 – Minnesota United FC – MLS (28 Points)
The clear favorite of all of the logos, Minnesota United racked up 3 first place votes, and got in the top five from 8 of our 9 board members. This features a unique color scheme that emphasizes silver/gray as their primary color, with a secondary light blue representing the Mississippi River. In the loon’s eye is their tertiary color, a bright red that is featured very subtly on their branding. I’m personally not a fan of kits with buttons on them, but they used this red tertiary color in their kits this year, and I was in love.
The crest keeps the vague look of most “shield” type crests, but goes outside the boundaries a little bit with the loon’s feathers, North Star, and unusual shape. The loon features 11 feathers to represent the 11 players on the field. The two halves of gray represent both Minneapolis and St. Paul separated by the Mississippi River. The crest stays within the rules of most good crests, while pushing the boundaries of a traditional crest’s shape, colors, and style. An excellent crest that should be a model for FC Cincinnati moving forward.
Common Themes of Good Logos
Looking back at our choices, there are a couple common themes among these picks, and things that Interbrand should follow to make a timeless design.
1) Soccer balls are nowhere to be seen.
Most logos that utilize a soccer ball in their logo look amateur. We know what sport you play, and don’t need the ball in your logo. It doesn’t help that the prototypical soccer ball is associated with youth soccer in the United States. Thankfully MLS changed their logo, because it looked a little too close to the SAY Soccer logo many in the Tri-state are most likely familiar with.
2) Pride in local identity.
Each one of these is steeped in a local identity. The Brooklyn Bridge, the Las Vegas Sign, the Spirit of Detroit. These are all recognizable symbols of the cities they represent and are very important to getting the city to embrace their identity.
We made a short list of logos/crests and then voted on those. You can see the whole list below and how they ranked.
Minnesota United FC - 28 Points (3 First Place Votes)
Brooklyn Italians - 19 Points (3 First Place Votes)
Tormenta FC - 12 Points (2 Second Place Votes)
FC Wichita - 12 Points (1 Second Place Vote)
Las Vegas Lights FC - 10 Points
Portland Timbers - 9 Points (1 First Place Vote)
Columbus Crew SC - 9 Points (1 First Place Vote)
Indy Eleven - 7 Points
Portland Thorns - 6 Points (1 First Place Vote)
Lowcountry United FC - 6 Points
San Francisco City FC - 5 Points
Sacramento Republic FC - 4 Points
Detroit City FC - 3 Points
DC United - 3 Points
Kansas City Comets - 2 Points
Vancouver Whitecaps - 0 Points
Savannah Clovers - 0 Points
Are there any that are ranked too low? Ranked too high? Any we passed up entirely? Let us know!