Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Another New Crew on the Way

...and away we go. From Michael Arace and the Columbus Dispatch, this morning:
"Sources close to the Crew's front office have told The Dispatch that the team is thinking seriously about changing its name, colors and logo by the time its new stadium opens in the summer of 2021. Changing to what? The best guess here is they don't know yet and they are using a Frank Luntz focus group to figure it out."
It's not terribly surprising that a new group operating any team wants to make their own mark. The Hunt family brought in the original logo, Anthony Precourt left his mark and now the Haslam's want to have their own identity.

Since the publication of Arace's piece this morning I've seen a couple plugged in folks (namely J.D. Smith and Beau Bishop from 97.1 The Fan) walk back the initial report of changes coming to all aspects of the team identity.

There have been reports since last year that the team registered "" that has made folks a little uneasy, so today's news will not come as a surprise to some.

MLS is littered with teams that take on some of the identity of their NFL Fathers. Seattle, Atlanta, and New England all borrow directly with a good deal of success. It makes sense that owners might want some vertical alignment there. It immediately breeds familiarity and comfort level, especially when a change of colors means you are associated with a rival NFL team. Which is the case with the Crew and the Steelers.

Frank Luntz, the man behind this conversation, is no idiot. He's an experienced pollster (GOP) and has been working in sports for a number of years now. He's intelligent and is able to look past many of the obvious things fans might cling to. If you are interested in more on him and his thoughts on sport's markets, head HERE.

Some of Luntz's thoughts on Cincinnati:
Luntz: Cincinnati and Cleveland may come from the same state, but a very different attitude. Cleveland is defeatist: “We are hoping for next year, but I know we will lose again. I know we will lose again.” Cincinnati is, “I am hoping for next year because I am hoping for a breakthrough.” … Cincinnati is another town that knows its traditions. They won’t just answer me based on what is happening today but what happened 20 years ago, 30 years ago. … Boston fans do that a lot. I feel like a group of Boston fans could be on ESPN, Fox Sports 1 and do as well as the commentators. They know their stuff and they know multiple sports; Cincinnati knows multiple sports."


My own personal thoughts on the badge and branding for the Crew remains the same as it has since this wild rollercoaster got going back in 2012 when rumors of the team being up for sale came up -

Have the team wear blank black uniforms for three years until a brand forms organically. If that means one of the old logos? Okay. It that means NFL Browns colors. Fine. I don't get the hurry. I feel that a transitional period would sell a lotta jerseys. Have the logo be an empty shield with a white and gold outline.

I think have a singular, narrow brand identity is sort of a thing of the past. It comes from challenges in printing and clothing manufacturing. You do want to have a stable brand, but it shouldn't be so sacred that you can't keep it fresh.

Today's news was likely a mini-trial ballon put up by Luntz to measure the impact of a potential branding change. Social media here in Columbus by the regulars was predictable. What's not predictable is the people living in the outer rings of Columbus fandom. There are much more of the latter, than the former. Luntz wants to pry open their brains.

He'll get there.

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