Team rebrands in American soccer have become all the rage and that comes with a risk. Some rebrands have gone well, some took a bit of getting used to but ultimately worked out, and some have been total disasters.
Last Friday, it was leaked that Columbus Crew SC would at some point rebrand as “Columbus SC.” A logo was revealed and that got near universal criticism. It even led to the Nordecke supporters’ group posting their disapproval of the changes and revealed that they were only shown the “completed product with no chance for input.”
Despite all the warnings that this wasn’t a good idea, the team who rebranded as a “soccer club” in 2014, announced Monday that they are going through another rebrand and go by “Columbus SC,” which sounds like something a seventh grader would get wrong in a Geography class trying to guess the capital of South Carolina.
In Columbus, we forge paths for others to follow.
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) May 10, 2021
Columbus is keeping “The Crew” as a nickname but it’ll officially be Columbus SC.
From fans to media to former Crew players to (possibly) other MLS teams, there were plenty of remarks about the rebrand and as expected, they weren’t feeling it.
Crew fans are gathering outside historic Crew stadium to express displeasure with the new look for the team. “We fought to save ‘The Crew’, not ‘Columbus SC’!” says Joey Dinapoli, head of @YellowNatArmy. Stay tuned on @nbc4i pic.twitter.com/mouoBI6y2G
— Allen Henry (@AllenNBC4) May 10, 2021
— Jacob Myers (@_jcmyers) May 10, 2021
This makes 0.0000 sense. The history of the club is what’s most important, not another rebrand. Everyone in Columbus loves the Columbus CREW 👊🏼 🟡⚫️ https://t.co/zsCBJP23sD
— Justin Meram (@JustinMeram) May 9, 2021
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) May 10, 2021
— Houston Dynamo FC (@HoustonDynamo) May 10, 2021
— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) May 10, 2021
Columbus Crew want to be more global? #SaveTheCrew was one of the biggest global movements seen from an MLS club and it came from the fans. Now the club remove "Crew" from its logo/name against those fans' wishes… #Crew96
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) May 10, 2021
. #Crew96 owners: So we've saved the Crew, won an MLS Cup and built a new stadium. What's a good way to burn through that goodwill we've built up with the fans?
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) May 10, 2021
Stay outta your own way.
Listen to the people that support you. #Crew96 Forever.
— Cody Sharrett (@CodySharrett) May 9, 2021
It takes a special kind of incompetence to mess up something that the Precourt administration actually got right #Crew96
— Chris Blain (@CHRlSBLAlN) May 9, 2021
“Tone deaf” has been taken to a different level by the Columbus MLS franchise. You don’t remove “Crew” from your name when a grassroots “Save The Crew” fan movement kept the franchise from relocating. https://t.co/bo0YTPq9Yc #mls #Crew96
— Tom Reed (@treed1919) May 10, 2021
— Free Beer Movement (@FreeBeerMovemnt) May 10, 2021
— Jack Grimse (@JackGrimse) May 10, 2021
Chicago fire: our rebrand was atrocious and there’s no way any MLS club could ever outdo it
Columbus Crew: hold my 🍺 pic.twitter.com/Fy236TucS5
— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) May 9, 2021
Listen, changing the identity of our club without consulting fans and rolling it out like a 5pm Friday news dump hurts. It's a slap in the face for what we all fought so hard for in saving our club.
That hits harder than just changes to letters, logos and names. #Crew96
— The Real Soccer Don (@SaintMurray) May 10, 2021
Here’s the thing. There was no reason for this rebrand. The Crew struck gold seven years ago with their previous rebrand combining American and European team naming elements with a great logo.
This rebrand felt like it happened because Dee and Jimmy Haslam bought the team and wanted their fingerprints on the identity of the club to say that it’s truly theirs. That last rebrand was an Anthony Precourt design and that it was time to embrace a non-Precourt future.
What the Haslam’s don’t get is no one other than them cares about that. Yeah, Precourt added the “SC” to the name and changed the logo but this team is more than who actually owns the franchise. That was the point of the #SaveTheCrew movement; listening to passionate fans who dedicate their lives to the club and getting their input before making a franchise altering decision that you have to know will be criticized from the start.
Yes, the Haslam’s bought the team from Precourt and Crew fans not only still have their team but will get a new stadium as well. At the same time, that doesn’t mean the Haslam’s get to do whatever they want with impunity simply because they kept the Crew in Columbus. The relationship between owner and fanbase is an ongoing relationship and what the Haslam’s did made them beloved in Columbus and in MLS. Are they seriously going to sacrifice that goodwill for this?