September 24, 2014

Rebranding in Professional Sports: Major League Soccer

by Guest Blogger

Mls Logos

You may remember when we wrote about the successful rebranding of the Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Sporting Kansas City. Now, the entire league is undergoing a major rebrand. MLS has dubbed the rebrand "MLS NEXT."

The rebrand comes as MLS heads into its 20th season and demonstrates that the league is maturing. In the league's inaugural season there were ten clubs. Now, there are 19 clubs. It has been announced that two new clubs will be joining the league in 2015 - New York City FC, which has well-known international commodities David Villa and Frank Lampard under contract, and Orlando City SC, which will boast a roster including Kaká. In addition, a club owned by Falcons owner and Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank will be added in Atlanta in 2017, and David Beckham continues to pursue a club in Miami.

Not only is the league expanding, but its improving financial health is readily apparent. For example, the rights for each of the original ten clubs were sold for $5 million. Meanwhile, the expansion rights for New York FC (a co-venture between English Premier League club Manchester City and the New York Yankees) were purchased for $100 million. Need more proof? In 2013, Forbes estimated the least valuable MLS team was worth $64 million and the most valuable team was worth $175 million. It also reported that eight of the 19 teams were worth over $100 million.

Indeed, MLS is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Boosted by additional post-World Cup interest, clubs are being added, multiple teams are developing new stadiums, and the league recently negotiated a new television contract that will significantly increase its revenue.

With the league booming, a rebrand was certainly in order. MLS's original cartoonish logo was registered as a federal trademark on February 18, 1997. As you can see, the original logo has undergone minor changes over the past two decades, but the new logo represents a big shift in how the league wants to present itself to the world. The cartoonish elements are gone. In their place stands a more mature red, white, and blue shield meant to invoke feelings of national pride in both the United States and Canada, where the league's 19 clubs reside. The most interesting element of the new logo is that it can be customized across all MLS clubs with the primary colors of the teams featured on the shield.

Mls Logos

The new logo is only one element of the league's rebrand. For more information about the rebrand, check out the press release posted on Major League Soccer's website.

You can also learn more about the new logo by watching this video:

Or this press conference:

Here's to MLS's continuing growth and prosperity. I still believe that we will win! And an improving MLS can help us do it.

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