Behind the Brand: The Story of #NewCrew (part III of III)

Behind the Brand: The Story of #NewCrew

By Ryan Schwepfinger

You’ve seen the street ads, digital billboards and social teaser campaigns.’s Ryan Schwepfinger is your go-to source for an inside look at the club’s new identity and the process of bringing it to life, with a multi-part series entitled “Behind the Brand.”

Armed with hundreds of photos of Columbus landmarks, comparable club badges from across the world and a blank pallet with which to work, the Crew started to work on the final design and what it wanted the brand evolution to become. The process, however, demanded reason. As part of the Black & Gold’s goal of becoming a brand-centric organization, it was important to carefully lay out exactly what the club stood for, what the brand was to mean and how those ideals could be symbolized in the new badge.

In the end, the club broke this down into two different sectors: brand pillars (the foundation of what the Columbus Crew represented) and logo criteria (goals that the club wanted to incorporate into the new badge)

The brand pillars broke down into three branches:

  • Original/Team of Firsts – “We can own that,” said Mike Malo, the Crew’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “There’s no one else that can say they were the first MLS club. There’s no one else that can say they were the first team to bring a professional championship to Columbus, or the first soccer-specific stadium to MLS. Our origins as a club are distinguishable to our brand, but we also need to continue to be original, innovative and pioneering in our efforts moving forward.”
  • An energetic, youthful spirit – “The energy around MLS and soccer in our country is gaining momentum,” said Malo. “We have a youthful energy among our supporters, our club and our community, and it’s a trait that draws people to our unique experience. It has a contagious nature to it and that’s very powerful in creating an emotional connection to our club.”
  • Authentically Columbus – “Columbus has an emerging, smart, progressive personality,” said Malo. “We want to align our brand with the unique traits of our city, and help shape the future of our sport and our community. Our goal is to become essential to this community by creating a deep civic pride in our club and the authentic experiences at our stadium.”

The Crew set out to design a badge and a brand that embodied these ideals. From these pillars, the Crew set out the criteria for their new badge — carefully called a badge, by the way, and not a crest: “we want people to view this as a badge of honor,” said Malo. The four pieces of criteria were:

  • Identify as Columbus’s team
  • Distinguish as a soccer club
  • Celebrate history
  • Recognize fan culture

These four elements, along with select pieces of symbolism relevant to Columbus, prominently feature into the club’s final badge design.

The amount of thought given to absolutely every element should hopefully give you an idea of the thoroughness and care that went into this crucial evolution in the club’s history.

“We certainly hope people like [the new brand]. Even if someone doesn’t like the new badge at first, we think they will at least appreciate the story behind the design. There’s a lot of meaning with each design element,” said Malo. “We wanted our new identity to be a true representation of what we stand for as a club, and we think people will feel connected to our brand story.”

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