Brand studio Athletics has just added another professional US soccer heavy hitter to its roster of branding projects. Having previously executed the rebrands for Major League Soccer, Nashville Soccer Club, and the soccer training app Trace, they were ideally suited to head the call when the Seattle Sounders of the MLS came knocking for a new look.
In honor of the Sounders’ 50th anniversary, the franchise sought the expertise of Athletics for a brand refresh in partnership with the Seattle-based design firm Column Studio and ad agency DNA. As locals, Column Studio offered an invaluable perspective and personal investment in the project. Its three co-founders—Matt Fagerness, Tony Ciocca, and Richard Williams—are all Seattle natives who met while attending Western Washington University together. Each is a long-standing Sounders fan in their own right, and, with Column, has a history of collaborating with the club on past projects.
The brand evolution brief aimed to root the Sounders in a clearer sense of place, reconnect it with its 50-year heritage, and embed the club within the broader global soccer culture. In doing so, Athletics developed a guiding theme for the identity: “At the Water’s Edge.” The phrase weaves energy and optimism into a broader story about water, progress, and Seattle’s beloved Puget Sound community.
Central to the rebranding process was a series of interviews, surveys, and focus groups with fans, community members, and stakeholders to hone in on the core of the Seattle Sounders. DNA fielded nearly 10K surveys, with those results synthesized to guide the development of the crest, wordmarks, color palette, iconography, photography, and typography.
Column ultimately took the project over the finish line after Athletics constructed the strategic foundation. The final product is a bright, lively, and fresh brand system, that still nods to design components from various stages of the Sounders’ past. The wave motif from the club’s original NASL crest and APSL logo features in the new wordmark, along with the Space Needle from the previous iteration.
Column even developed a custom typeface for the new identity called “Sound.” The type family is a direct visual extension of the system based on the custom-drawn letterforms they created for the new wordmark. To develop Sound, Column took inspiration from historical club typography dating back to 1974, type on posters advertising the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and lettering found in Seattle’s shipyards and shorelines.
With this fresh brand system, the Seattle Sounders join the ranks of other MLS clubs, such as Austin FC, who understand that you only play as well as you look.