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The Revolution have unveiled a new logo. Here’s the back story of the process and thinking behind it

The Revolution's new logo was unveiled on a flag in the archway at the Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston Thursday morning.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The Revolution aren’t looking for a fight over their new logo.

But if the rebranding of the region’s Major League Soccer team evokes feelings of feistiness as well as pride, then the franchise has won a battle it knew it had to wage.

“Everyone says that us New Englanders are really great people to have in your corner, but we’re not this always smiley, cheery type; if you mess with us, we’re going to mess with you,” said Revolution president Brian Bilello, who oversaw the nearly three-year-long process.

“Being able to capture that in a way that’s positive, and not confrontational in a negative way, is important to us. The idea of ‘revolution,’ we think, is rooted in something good, rooted in a cause, rooted in a reason.”


The familiar “crayon flag” logo will live on through the end of this season, in which the Revolution will finish as the top team in the regular season, with their best shot at winning their first MLS Cup. It will be replaced by a new seal with a navy blue background and a white retro-styled “R” pierced by a red sash and encircled by red bunting.

The Revolution's original logo (left) is being replaced by a new design (right) after the 2021 season.New England Revolution

Long before each element of the new logo was designed to create the “positive defiance” look and feel, the team had to go through its own process of self-discovery.

“A few years ago, we thought about how the Revolution were going to evolve, the investments we were going to make in the infrastructure and the team and the players, and really felt like we wanted to introduce fans to a brand-new Revolution,” said Bilello. “That was the starting point. To say, ‘We want to understand soccer in this market, what it’s supposed to represent and how we fit in that landscape.’ ”


So they conducted extensive research with focus groups in 2019 to learn what the fans, both casual and hardcore, as well as general soccer and general sports fans liked and disliked about the current look and feel of the team’s name and image.

The focus groups, which included members of the team’s two supporter groups, the Midnight Riders and the Rebellion, made it clear that they did not seek wholesale changes. They liked the red-white-and-blue color scheme and the “Revolution” name, and the spirit of what a revolution means — going against the grain, standing for what’s right, not getting beaten — remained popular.

The negatives were the visuals of the logo itself.

It is known derisively in these parts as the “crayon flag,” with its streaky stripes and worn soccer ball standing in for stars, and the focus groups saw it as the off-field version of an on-field flop.

“It says, ‘I’ve been watching mediocre soccer since the mid ’90s,’ ” said one focus group member.

“Looks like a worn pair of jeans,” said another.

The Revolution mascot, Slyde the Fox, handed out flags with the team's new logo after it was unveiled in the archway at the Boston Harbor Hotel on Thursday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

When the team asked what the new logo should look like, there were calls for a more modern, more progressive look — no stale muskets or clichéd cannons — but one that retained a sense of New England tradition.

And one more ask: Don’t dare add to the name an “FC,” shorthand for “Football Club” used pervasively among European teams and nearly half of the North American MLS franchises.


“A lot of what we didn’t change are some of my favorite things, this understanding of how everyone rallied around this concept of ‘revolution,’ ” said Bilello. “So many MLS teams have ‘FC,’ ‘SC.’

“We didn’t know what people were going to say about that, but it was pretty clear that people didn’t want to be another ‘FC’ and just put your city’s name on it.”

The team turned to a London-based design firm, JKR, to incorporate three main concepts — the American Revolution, the spirit of defiance, and the Boston/Massachusetts region — into a new logo.

The flag was replaced by red bunting, which are the wavy lines making up the border of the primary seal.

The font of the white “R” on a blue background is inspired by American Revolution-era typefaces, including the stamp used on products from the East India Trading Company, whose product was at the heart of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

The red slash that is interwoven through the “R” adds a third dimension and is meant to convey that aura of “defiance.”

Like most MLS logos, the design does not make a specific reference to soccer, unless one squints and decides that the bottom-right serif of the “R” resembles a kicking foot.

The primary crest includes a white circle, with “New England Revolution” and “1996″ (the team’s inaugural season) around the seal.

The design team also came up with six slogans to add to the merchandising mix, including “Bring the Fight”, “Defend the Fort,” and “Liberty.”


The new logo will not be fully incorporated until next season, but players will walk out in jackets bearing it at their final regular-season game Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Despite supply-chain issues, the Revolution will have merchandise on sale in time for the holidays.

That the logo’s rollout coincides with a special season of accomplishment for the Revolution is a happy accident.

“That was the plan,” said Bilello of the team’s on-field success. “And with the rebrand, it’s a whole new Revolution.

“The fact that it’s all come together at the same time is really exciting for us, we know it’s exciting for the fans, and certainly getting it right, right now, is an affirmation of what we’ve been doing the last three years, including this rebrand.”

This graphic shows the explanation of the design elements within the new logo.New England Revolution

Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.