Columbus Crew SC | Brand Refresh

After 20 years, the MLS pro soccer team was ready to cast off its blue-collar image to better reflect its hometown: a growing, vibrant city best known for government, education, tech, logistics, retail, and insurance. After designing the perfect new logo, Columbus Crew SC brought in Whole-Brained to collaborate on an incredible brand redefinition: shifting the brand from marketing to families, to an image and launch campaign that would move the team forward with the city’s Millennials and leaders.

Brand book: Whole-Brained developed brand elements and guidelines after interviews about what the new brand should represent. The brand book redefines what a modern “crew” stands for: a sense of friendship and collaboration, reflecting the city’s new identity—ColumbUS—in a powerful way.

Visual positioning: This document sets the standard for the brand’s look and feel in one page. The brand essence, “Forward Together” adds a big jolt of energy.

The power of video: An action-filled video tied the team’s history to the meaning underlying the new badge design, which helped launch the brand with everyone from disbelievers to diehards.

Big brand wall: Fans hungry for team lore visit this wall in the upper stadium lounge to learn what every element of the logo means, further cementing the “rightness” of the re-brand.


Teaser campaign

Before the super-top-secret badge was revealed, speculation was rampant; fans even held an online logo contest. Whole-Brained suggested a street-level teaser campaign, showing only the basic shape of the new logo—
a giant yellow dot—to keep the community guessing.

Giant yellow dot: On a billboard at a major crossroads…

Associated with the city’s newest transit option…

On the pavement at big intersections…

And graffiti’d around town in water-soluble paint.

Mobile sign: In addition to paid media sites, Whole-Brained suggested a sign that could be “spotted” wherever our target gathered… shown here, on the OSU campus and Columbus Commons.


Reveal event: The team unzipped their old jackets to reveal the new badge on their t-shirts—the first time we’ve seen thousands of people stand up and cheer for a new logo!

Instant image shift: The new logo replaced the yellow dot immediately after the event, as on this crossroads billboard downtown.

Street media: Columbus awoke the next day to a new Columbus Crew.

Mobile sign, full logo: The mobile sign re-appeared around town, creating more “spot the logo” social feedback.

Tribute billboard: An oversized, dimensional soccer scarf celebrated the new identity and spurred new merchandise sales.

Street decals: The yellow dot was filled in with the new logo everywhere it had appeared.

Employee kit: The day after the reveal, employees found new soccer kits on their desks. Nice perk for a job well done, plus added incentive to move the new brand forward.

Logo tagging: The idea of social media “tagging” was the inspiration for free magnetic logos placed on fans’ cars during the event and at games.

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