New England professional sports franchises have always seemed to function on a different register than the rest. Fueled in equal measure by a rebellious history rooted in the Revolutionary War and Dunkin’ iced coffees, the Boston-based sports world embraces grit and ruthlessness that manifests on the field, in their fans, and their branding.
The New England Revolution’s recently released branding system stays true to this tradition. As one of Major League Soccer’s original clubs established in 1996, the Revolution was overdue for an identity and positioning refresh, so the team tapped the folks at Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) to take on the project.
“MLS’s New England Revolution is Proudly Not Another F.C.,” they assert at the top of their press release about the new system. (“F.C.” is short for “Football Club,” a naming convention commonly used by European football teams.) This sentiment and tone ring loudly throughout the new branding, from the thick, all-caps primary typeface inspired by the wave of the Revolutionary Flag to the team’s manifesto, which includes antagonistic verbiage like, “We don’t get pushed around. Ever.” And, “This is no place for the weak-hearted. No place for whiners.”
JKR worked with the Revolution to fulfill a brief demanding a look and feel for the club that would be distinct from others in the MLS, and authentic to New England’s heritage and the franchise’s past. “Our fans deeply connected to the New England Revolution name and did not want to see that changed,” said Revolution Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement, Cathal Conlon, in a press release. “We took that sentiment to heart, and every decision that followed throughout the design process was rooted in that feedback.”
Intimidation dominates the updated identity, starting with the new crest. An “R” depicted in type that takes inspiration from Revolutionary-era lettering and the Boston Tea Party mark is set within a holding shape that harkens to traditional flag drapery. Meanwhile an aggressive red strikethrough pierces diagonally into the heart of the “R,” further instilling a combative tone. “This strikethrough represents defiance in the face of our oppressors, our enemies, our rivals,” their site declares.
Iconography alluding to the region’s history was also developed, including symbols such as a pine tree, fort, the liberty trail, and the six stars of New England. Predominantly black and white photographic elements are incorporated throughout, bearing a style inspired by Revolutionary-era portraiture.
The club’s new battle cry, “Bring the Fight,” is the icing on the hostile cake that is the New England Revolution’s reinvigorated brand ethos.
Truthfully, I’m a bit wary of the Rev faithful taking this call to arms too literally, and the firing muskets in the stands featured in the sizzle reel only adds to my unease.