The Athletic reported this week that the Chicago Fire are planning to scrap the current, controversial “crown” logo after the 2021 season. After hoping the new crest would grow on fans, it’s clear the club now recognizes it was a mistake. That’s a good thing.
There are many fans who would love to see the logo gone next season, but adidas requires a lot of lead time on these things, so the “cat’s anus” (as our TJ Zaremba calls it) is around for one more season.
With that in mind, what do you want to see next? What is important for you in a crest? I know many fans, like our Ruben Tisch, would love to see the club go back to the Florian Cross logo. For most of us, that’s the logo that was in place when we all became fans, and it brings back great memories. I get it. But, I feel like the club made the right call to shift away from it. The team’s name already gets drowned out online by the Dick Wolf NBC show. The idea that people were stopping Bastian Schweinsteiger at Midway to “thank him for his service” was just too weird.
Here’s what I’m looking for in the next logo:
It doesn’t have to be as obvious as the Chicago Flag or a Chicago Star (I feel like the Red Stars have that covered), but the logo should have some tangible tie to our city’s history or culture. My favorite of the city’s current sports logos, by far, belongs to the Chicago Bulls. It’s not only simple and iconic, but it draws its history from the Union Stock Yards.
That’s why I feel like the idea of including a lantern in the crest is perfect. It’s the type of thing that seems simple and obvious to Chicagoans, and outsiders who aren’t familiar with the tale of Catherine O’Leary’s cow would learn something. The illustration the club put on jersey patches this season (and subsequently put on the front of a very cool shirt) is a little busy for a crest, but it’s a great starting point. I also like the “C” from the Florian Cross logo, and I think there should be a place for that in the new mark.
I always hear fans griping about the crown and the yellow color as the two worst things about the current logo. For me, I actually think the oval shape, and the barely visible font are worse. It just doesn’t stand out. For me, Inter Miami CF has the best logo in MLS. The art deco flamingo graphic in the center screams Miami, and the lettering and lines in the circle are bold and clear. With the Bavarian flag in the middle of a bold circle, Bayern Munich’s logo gives me the same feeling.
A simpler second mark
Let’s look at Arsenal. The updated shield the team adopted in the early 00s is fairly average, but the cannon itself is outstanding. When any soccer fan in the world sees a cannon, whether it’s the new one or the older, left-facing one, they know it’s The Arsenal. For me, the Fire “crown” works a bit better on its own than it does in the oval, but if you didn’t know, you’d have no idea that’s supposed to be a flame, which is a problem.
I think the best example of this in MLS is the Portland Timbers’ t-shaped axe. You see that axe, you think beards, beers, flannel, and the Timbers. That’s why the next Fire logo needs something simple and recognizable at its heart. A lantern works for this point, too.
The club can’t afford to get this wrong twice. Supporters should have a chance to weigh-in, submit ideas and actually have some voice in the final product. Ultimately, the final decision should fall on Joe Mansueto, but he’s a smart guy, and he knows it makes great business sense that the new crest is one that supporters enjoy and feel is theirs.
It’s important to point out that whatever the club comes up with next, there will be people who hate it. Not everyone will agree, and that’s fine. But, we need to find a new mark that most fans like. If you look around MLS, a lot of logos are boring, but not many are actively bad. A lot of them are just... safe. We should strive to do better than safe.
I like that the Fire tried to do something unique with the new logo. A lot of great people were involved, but it was a big swing, and a big miss. Now, they have a chance to get it right, and we should all be happy with that.