Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Portland Timbers Rebrand

As an avid soccer fan and illustration student, I've always held great interest in branding identities in sports. The Portland Timbers are an American soccer franchise with a rich history, extending far beyond most of the current clubs of today, back to the old North American Soccer League days of the mid '70s. In those days, the NASL was America's premier league and legends such as Pelé were drawing crowds upward of 70,000 to come watch the world's game. Now, NASL is long gone and the upstart Major League Soccer is our top domestic flight. Portland Timbers were recently granted an expansion spot in the MLS for the 2011 season, and believed now as good a time as ever to re-brand their club's look. To some, the newly designed crest is an obvious upgrade to the previous one, which had remained largely untouched since the golden era of domestic professional soccer. However, the modernization of the classic crest has sparked controversy among Timbers' die hard supporters. In this video of the logo unveiling, we hear large numbers of fans reacting with boos and various expletives. The word among supporters is that the previous crest didn't need changing, that the old one holds all the tradition, and the new one is too cartoon-ish in its modernization. I tend to prefer the old one. Partly because I feel the axe is too large and cartoony for this to be a successful crest. To me, the former crest has a more timeless quality to it. And, most importantly, I think tradition is undervalued in American soccer. When you consider the standard of logos back in the NASL days, perhaps the old crest deserves another shot.

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