D.C. United have unveiled a new logo for only the second time in club history, replacing the redesigned crest that was unveiled after the 1997 season.
United conducted thorough market research two years ago on the current state of the brand. The research pointed to the need for modernization to reflect the growth of the sport and the league in the United States. The current brand did not adequately represent the United community. Maintaining a strong tie to the tradition of the club was a priority, because that same research also spoke to the strong sense of nostalgia and tradition of the community, a tradition that the club is supremely proud of. An evolution seemed to be the best approach to make the brand more broadly appealing, and the timing could not be more appropriate as D.C. United prepare to move forward into a permanent home.
A search was conducted for the right partner that could deliver the vision for the new D.C. United brand. The Red Peak Group was in lock-step with that vision and developed a brand positioning strategy for the club that ultimately steered the logo design process. After working with Element Advertising on the initial logo design, Red Peak Group brought on Peter Horridge to handcraft the final version of the crest. Horridge is based in the UK and also redesigned badges for Liverpool FC and the England Football Association, as well as the Royal Coat of Arms for the Queen of England's Royal Household among other prestigious marks.
The logo features a new shield shape, an updated wordmark, an enlarged eagle and the stars and stripes of the Washington D.C. flag, “is more of a modern evolution than a revolution,” Tom Hunt, United chief operating officer, said.
At the top of the crest, the wordmark is written in a new, handlettered font, bringing contemporary design and greater readability, while also showcasing the confidence of the evolved brand.
The shape of the shield is based on the George Washington family crest as well, which dates back to 1559, and provides a distinct connection between the club and the nation’s capital. This version of the crest still hangs as a stained glass window at Selby Abbey in Yorkshire, England.
The “Stars and Bars” are taken from the D.C. flag, but originate with the Washington family crest, and create an unbreakable bond with the District while instilling a sense of place. The red coloring is intensified to reinforce the club’s passion, while the overall logo presents itself as more black, representing United’s grit and conviction.
The shape of the eagle’s head has not changed since the team’s inception in 1996 maintaining a sense of tradition, but is now turned to the right, confidently looking forward. The wings of the eagle have been enlarged and are escaping out of the shield, reinforcing the core brand value of freedom.
The new brand identity and crest represent nearly two years’ worth of research, planning, and dialogue with the United community. The logo change comes as the Black-and-Red prepare to settle in Buzzard Point. "It’s a transformative time for our brand,” Hunt said.