New England Revolution

Revs rebrand: The story behind the New England Revolution’s new logo

The crayon flag will be retired after the 2021 season.

Revs new logo
Andrew Farrell wears a tshirt showing the Revolution's new logo. Via New England Revolution

The time has finally come for the New England Revolution to get a new look.

As the last holdout from Major League Soccer’s original 10 teams to get a new logo, the move signifies a commitment to modernization that, while seen by some as past due, will nonetheless be received with a range of emotional responses.

The longstanding “crayon flag” (as the team’s original logo became known) will be retired following the 2021 season. In its place will be a new logo, unveiled on Thursday morning as a part of a wider refresh of the club’s “brand identity.”

Here’s the new logo, as it will be seen on the team crest:

Revs rebrand
The newly unveiled Revolution team crest. – Via New England Revolution

The process of the redesign began internally four years ago, but picked up steam in 2019. It was, not coincidentally, around the time that Bruce Arena (then installed as head coach and sporting director) began reshaping the club’s on-field look.

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“It’s obviously not an undertaking to be taken lightly,” said Cathal Conlon, the Revolution’s Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement. “It’s really important that when you get to changing or altering a club’s identity that you take due care and attention. And it’s not our brand, it’s not our logo, it belongs to the fans as much as anybody else. We’re just stewards of it and we need to make sure that we get it right when we do undertake this kind of process.”

According to Conlon, internal research orchestrated by the Revolution revealed two major takeaways. First, that any changes to the club’s brand should not include a new team name.

“When it came to the identity and what the brand of the club should be,” Conlon explained, “the initial response was ‘Don’t change the name, we don’t want to be an FC, or an SC, or a Real, Sporting, we don’t need that. We like our name, and the name resonates. We’re named after what happened in the American Revolution a couple of hundred years ago, and the birth of a country.’ And that’s really important to the people in this region, and they were adamant that we should not change that.”

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“That was certainly an eye-opener for me,” Conlon admitted. “I would’ve been of the opinion that the names from 1996 were from MLS 1.0 and that should be updated too, and I could not have been more wrong. It’s really important to people.”

Of the 10 original MLS teams dating back to the league’s inaugural season in 1996, several have changed names to reflect a more worldly soccer identity. The league’s Dallas club, for example, was originally the Dallas Burn, but became FC Dallas in 2005.

But as New England fans demonstrated, keeping the Revolution as the team’s name was the most important thing.

“I’d always feared that a rebrand would coincide with some sort of generic ‘Boston FC’ type name,” said Matt Zytka, president of The Midnight Riders (one of the independent supporters groups following the club).

For the Revolution, alleviating that fear of a name change therefore became a major priority.

“That spirit is really important, and you can’t manufacture that,” said Conlon. “It was really important for us to keep [the name] once we heard the feedback.”

The other major point taken from the team’s research was that the crayon flag logo, which had remained unchanged since the club’s founding, was outdated.

Crayon Flag
The Revolution’s crayon flag flying at Gillette Stadium in 2020. – Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

“We heard the exact opposite about the logo, that it needed to go,” Conlon recalled. “It’s dated. It doesn’t really connect. It’s an American flag for a reason obviously and the symbolism behind that, but it felt like there really was no connection there for people.”

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And as Conlon noted, the logo was indicative of a club stuck in time.

“It sort of became a symbol of the progress we weren’t making as a club,” said Conlon. “Every other original club had done something, had changed their brand, had tweaked something or done something different and we hadn’t. That intransigence almost became a symbol that we were not invested, that we don’t care. ‘God, they can’t even change the logo.'”

Having established the two key indicators—keeping the name but ditching the logo—the redesign began.

The end product is a combination of the club’s historical ties to its revolutionary name while also being an attempt to launch New England’s soccer team into a new standing among the region’s vibrant sports scene.

“The strikethrough that binds the R to the red on the exterior is the patriotic bunting,” Conlon said of the new logo. “That forms our seal logo. And the full crest has the team name incorporated, so it sits on a white circle with the team name around it. That’s the basic elements of the strikethrough of the positive defiance, the traditional bunting to make the shape, and the Revolutionary War-type fonts to make the R in the center.”

Revolution logo infographic
– Via NE Revs

Of course, the departure from the crayon flag, the last of the original league logos, will be met with an inevitable element of sadness from some of the club’s supporters.

But as Zytka pointed out, the move was always likely to happen at some point.

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“It was inevitable,” he explained. “I mean we all love the crayon flag, as we call it, but it’s definitely a sort of ironic so-bad-it’s-good love. I’d say even the most staunch crayon flag defenders wouldn’t exactly call it good graphic design. It was the last essentially untouched logo from ‘96, so it has a sentimental value for sure. But I wouldn’t call it good design, so I think most people always knew that it was going to change eventually because it is just so overwhelmingly mid-90s in aesthetic.”

Cory Cloutier, president of The Rebellion (another of the club’s independent supporters groups), acknowledged everyone will have their own opinion on issue, and that there will be those who aren’t happy with the change.

“I think a small group of individuals sounds louder than a larger group of individuals at times,” Cloutier said of those loyal to the crayon flag. “There are definitely people opposing the rebrand right now, without a doubt. There are people that love our history and love that crayon flag, and it represents more to them than just [being] an original logo.

“Change is a challenge, and the logo will grow on people over time for those that do oppose it,” he added. “I do get why they love that crayon flag, with how much history it has behind it. But the only way to move forward is to look towards the future. I think this is one of those steps to do so.”

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What helps the club’s decision to do the rebrand in the current time is that the on-field results have been spectacular. With the arrival of Arena in 2019—a five-time winner of MLS Cup—along with other improvements to the club (including a new training facility and significantly increased investments from ownership in players), the Revolution set a league record for points in a regular season, and won the Supporters’ Shield for the first time in team history.

“The current atmosphere is going to help the process,” agreed Cloutier. “If the team was where we were a few years ago under the old [general manager], I think there would be people screaming for a different change than a logo, because the logo wouldn’t do anything in their opinion. I think there would still be a lot of people speaking about that a rebrand isn’t going to change the product on the field. Right now, the product on the field is so talented and so good, I think this is the moment where the rebrand will be the most welcomed because the team is making a lot of the right choices.”

With the playoffs still to come, New England fans will get one last ride with the crayon flag, which Revolution players will wear on their uniforms through the end of the current season.

But looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, the new era (and new logo) beckons.

“We’re building an identity that we hope will be with us for the long-term. We don’t plan to do this again,” Conlon underscored. “We hope that this sticks with us and it becomes who we are and our fans resonate with it and rally around it.”

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