A Crest For All Chicago | How We Got Here Together

crest launch mock - soldier field interior

As an integral part of our project team throughout the entire process, you helped to create a crest that will stand for Chicago for decades to come.

From the project announcement in January to the launch of the new in late June, every update shared along the way can be found below, beginning with our final update - a note of gratitude to all who added their voice.

A Crest For All Chicago | How We Got Here Together -

Project Updates

Friday, June 18

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: Thank you

Today’s the day. We’ve launched the crest and visual identity that you inspired.

The response to this project was remarkable. From the jump, Fire fans and supporters made their voice heard. The passion and love for the Club was immediately apparent.

We entered this project not knowing whether or not clear direction would emerge from the thousands of people who wanted to add their voice. But, as we read all 225,000 words submitted via web submissions, hosted multiple roundtables, read your tweets and Instagram comments, and reviewed survey responses, the direction crystalized.

It became clear what you were asking us to do. The task was connecting to 20+ years of Chicago Fire history while creating a crest that was uniquely Chicago, that would be recognizable as representing Chicago matter where you saw it. We hope we’ve done that.

We were fortunate to have Matt Wolff as our lead designer on the project. There aren’t many who would have been able to go deep into their design process only to be given new direction and information in real time - from the collective voice of thousands. He was open, gracious and enthusiastic throughout.

Most of all, though, we’re grateful to you - to all of you who were so generous to give us your time, your ideas and your feedback. We hope you feel the new crest represents this Club and this city - and that you’ll wear it with pride.

As we prepare for the Club’s 25th season next year, we’re optimistic about what’s ahead, about what we’ll do together.

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Wednesday, April 7

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: We have a front runner

The 2021 season is almost upon us!

It’s been a while since our last update as we’ve been heads down on design work, iterating and refining a number of marks and slowly narrowing down the list to identify the crest that will represent all Chicago.

We shared in a previous update that lead designer Matt Wolff had explored more than a dozen potential crests that incorporated various combinations of the Chicago city flag, the six-pointed star, the letter “C” and the Florian cross - the four items that fans and Chicagoans alike have asked to see included in the new crest.

From the original 12+ designs, we narrowed to five crests. We shared those five options with Club owner Joe Mansueto and a variety of Club constituents to garner feedback. That feedback allowed us to then cull the list to three finalists.

With three crest options, we then widened the circle to include both internal and external voices. Across each session, there was a clear favorite that emerged.

With a consensus front runner, the next step was to get feedback from fans and non-fans alike. We hosted two virtual sessions with previous roundtable participants who are fans of the Club before conducting a third session with a group of “non-fans” who identified themselves through the quantitative survey

Feedback on the leading crest has been consistently positive - we’ve heard across the board that it connects to the Club’s past and also strongly represents Chicago. The commentary has the project team feeling really good about where we are. But we’re continuing to explore and iterate to ensure we achieve what you’ve asked us to do in creating a crest that both pulls through our history and embodies Chicago.

We’re now working through the practical realities of any branding project in today’s world. As we pressure-test design details, use of color, fonts and typefaces, etc., we’re simultaneously navigating both the approval and legal processes that are required on a project like this. In addition to appropriately engaging the League office and adidas in dialogue, there remains a number of stakeholders who need to see and sign off on the mark before we’re able to share it publicly. This process is likely to take some number of months, so we don’t expect to have another update for several weeks. That said, we’ll convey new information as the process evolves behind the scenes.

We’ve said it before, but we can’t thank you enough for the input, dialogue and engagement throughout the entirety of this project.

In the meantime, the 2021 season opener is less than two weeks away and we’re thrilled to be welcoming a limited number of fans to Soldier Field for the first time since announcing our return to the lakefront. We hope you can join us - safely! - as the team looks to bring home a trophy in 2021. Vamos Fire!

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Tuesday, March 2

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: We’ve heard you

It’s been nearly two months since we began this project and we’ve been in ongoing dialogue with Chicago Fire fans, season ticket holders, supporters and Chicagoans at large. The interest and engagement to date has been overwhelming - and appreciated. Thank you to every single one of you that has lent your voice and your time.

We’ve reviewed every one of the more than 15,000 responses we’ve received via web submissions, roundtables, surveys and social media since the project kicked off.

To date, we’ve heard from:

  • All 77 Chicago neighborhoods
  • 150+ cities across Illinois
  • 28 states
  • 10 countries outside the U.S.

Throughout the last two months, our design team has been exploring numerous concepts for potential inclusion in the Club’s new identity - the water tower, the lantern, the city skyline, the Florian cross, axes, fire/flames, the municipal device, the Chicago city flag, the six-pointed star, and many others. The designers have developed identity concepts that range from traditional heraldic crests to minimalist modern icons. They’ve created crests that include our full formal name and others that have no text whatsoever. The teams have done numerous color and typeface studies.

Of course, we’ve received hundreds of ideas for what fans think could (or should!) be included in the new crest, but after more than 15,000 responses, there have consistently been four themes that have emerged time and again as those that fans most want to see reflected in the new identity:

  • The Chicago city flag
  • The six-pointed star
  • The letter “C”
  • The Florian cross

No matter the format or forum, these four have been the most often referenced elements fans and Chicagoans alike have pointed to for inclusion. It is perhaps no surprise that the six-pointed star, the “C,” and Florian cross were incorporated in the Club’s original badge and the Chicago city flag’s colors have been well represented in the Club’s kits, merchandise and branding over the years.

Moving forward, these four elements will be the sole focus for developing a crest for all Chicago. It’s been exciting to see these iconic Chicago visuals rise above the other possibilities by way of your input – it reinforces that this project is about creating something that can both connect to the history of the Club and fully represent Chicago into the future.

At this stage of the project, Matt Wolff has been tasked with creating the final crest. He has already explored more than a dozen concepts that incorporate some combination of the Chicago city flag, six-pointed star, the letter “C,” and Florian cross and now the assignment is to find the solution.

We’re continuing to work closely with both MLS and adidas to ensure the new crest is applied in the best possible way for 2022, the club’s 25th season in MLS. We expect the final crest deadline will fall sometime midway through this season, which will allow for full application to authentic kits and other merchandise next year.

Finally, we’ve linked a visual summary of what we heard from the 4,000+ fans and Chicagoans who completed the identity survey below. In addition to what’s noted above, you’ll find insights on how people view the city and the club, what they’re looking for in kit colors (spoiler alert: you want red home kits) as well as which Fire players best embody the spirit of the Club. The insights serve as a strong reinforcement for many of the themes we heard through other fan touchpoints.

The work continues. More to come.

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Thursday, Feb. 18

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kacey Anderson, Manager of Marketing
Subject: Calling all Chicago kids!

We have received such amazing responses from fans near and far since the announcement of the new crest project. Not only do we want to hear from our adult supporters and fans, but we also want to hear from our younger fans about what they want to see in the Club’s new crest.

Beginning today, kids of all ages have the opportunity to participate in three kid-friendly crest activities. These activities allow our young fans to design their own crest, tell us what they love about the Club and the great city of Chicago, and choose their favorite Chicago icons.

Visit the Crest Project Kids Activities Page here.

We hope your little ones will participate and share their creativity with us. Our team will be reviewing all submissions and sharing some of our favorites with the design team!

You can stay in the loop on all kids related activities by joining the Chicago Fire Kids Club today. Fans 12-and-under will have access to exclusive events, giveaways and match-day activations during the 2021 season.

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Monday, Feb. 8

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: Roundtables, surveys and more

As of last week, we’ve officially conducted 12 roundtables with four more to come this week. By the end of the week, we’ll have talked to season ticket holders, supporters, internal Fire staff, Chicago Fire Rec Soccer players, and a number of fans who submitted thoughtful entries via the web submission form.

From our team’s perspective, the sessions have been thoughtful, interesting and, most importantly, helpful to the project and the creation of the new crest. That said, we knew when we began this endeavor that we would not be able to conduct a roundtable with everyone who wanted to participate. It’s just not possible.

For that reason, we rolled out a three-pronged approach for fans to participate and lend their voice:

  • Web submission form (1,400+ entries)
  • Roundtables (~20 in total)
  • Fan quantitative survey (2,100+ completed so far)

The survey in particular is meant to solicit input from both casual fans and “future fans” (i.e. those who are likely to love the Club and community but don’t just yet). As we look to grow the game, the Club and the fan base (and eventually fill Soldier Field 17 times a year), it’s important that we hear from people who aren’t yet a part of our community to ensure we’re truly creating a crest for all Chicago. For that reason, we’re also putting a small ad spend behind the survey to reach beyond our current base.

Additionally, this week we’ll bring the roundtable experience to life across our primary social channels - Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We encourage you to follow along and share your perspective and opinion in our mentions/replies/comments. Yes, we want you to @ us.

The design team is hard at work and has begun to hone in on a set of core concepts. They’ve explored the lantern, the water tower, the municipal device, the skyline, and flames as well as looks inspired by the Chicago city flag, the six-pointed star, the “C” at the heart of the original badge and a modernized Florian cross (among many, many other sketches). We’ll meet with Joe Mansueto this week to get his initial feedback on the current concepts before the next round of refinement.

More to come soon.

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Tuesday, Jan. 26

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: Web submission

Following last week’s recap from our friends at rEvolution, we’re sharing with you today a visual summary of the more than 1,200 submissions fans and supporters have sent in since the project began. The linked PDF below has been sent to our creative teams and will be used to help inform the work being done to create A Crest for All Chicago.

There are a ton of great excerpts from the submissions, but this from Ryan D. in Lincoln Park was one of my personal favorites:

“Chicago is my heart. It's a blue-collar, pull-up-your-sleeves, no-nonsense kind of town filled with honest, hard-working people who are unapologetically proud to call Chicago home."

Download the visual summary [PDF]

UPDATE (2/28): Now with more water tower! We realized after posting the deck that we missed one of the other recurring themes that has come out of the web submissions - the water tower. You’ll now see it incorporated in both the word cloud on P25 and again on P31.

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Friday, Jan. 22

To: Crest Project Team
From: Brian Quarles, Chief Creative Officer at rEvolution Marketing
Subject: Week 2 updates

It’s now the second week of this collaborative and creative process to arrive at A Crest for All Chicago, and the real fun has begun. As Chicago Fire’s agency partner, we at rEvolution have been working since late last year to help design the process of outreach and fan engagement. To see the outpouring of thoughtful responses in the early going has been inspiring – inspiring for the project, of course, but also inspiring to think at such scale about what this city and this Club means to fans.

To date, we’ve had more than 1,200 fans weigh in on our kick-off questions. Of course, every word (even the four-letter ones) has been read and considered. Overall, the city is stoked. So is the state, the country, and the world. We’ve heard from Fire faithful, from the South Loop to The Netherlands and, so far, we’ve received submissions from: 

  • 65 Chicago neighborhoods
  • 152 cities in Illinois
  • 28 States (and DC!)
  • And 10 countries not including the U.S.

The content of the submissions has been all over the map, as well – from the broad to the personal, to strong opinions against the color yellow. Here’s a tiny sampling from Ben G. in Fulton River District:

  • “Chicago is known around the world not because of one industry or a political capital, we made ourselves known. We redefined architecture. We developed our own dishes people will travel here to eat. We literally rose from the ashes to create something better no one had seen before.”

Next week, we’ll share a visual summary of the submissions so far so be sure to check back! If you haven’t submitted a response yet, we want to hear from you. Use your voice to help influence the design.

Workshop Roundtables: 1 down, many to go.

  • Our first workshop roundtable was held on Tuesday, where we welcomed Supporters Council members to participate in a session that not only gave our design teams incredible insights to incorporate, but will impact the shape of workshops to come. Really open and honest conversations were had.
  • Next up: Season Ticket holders, with a series of workshops scheduled for next week (invites went out today so check your inboxes)
  • We hope that you’ll be able to join us for a session in the next few weeks, and if you haven’t already, sign up here to indicate interest.

That’s it for now. Thank you all for being engaged.

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Friday, Jan. 15

To: Crest Project Team
From: Kyle Sheldon, SVP of Marketing
Subject: Week 1 updates

We officially launched “A Crest for All Chicago” one week ago and, today we’ll begin providing regular updates to the entire project team - and that includes you!

Here’s the latest:

<ul><li>All submissions have been read by either a Chicago Fire or rEvolution team member. Recurring themes are being identified and will be summarized for the design teams by middle of next week.</li></ul></li><li>On Monday, we met with 16 members of the Supporters Council to provide an overview of the project and take questions.
<ul><li>While exact timelines and options for 2022 kits are not yet known, the topic of navy vs. red colorways came up during the meeting. A few council members shared their position that the Club should return to red only when the white strip across the chest could also be added.</li><li>A number of council members expressed they didn’t think the final crest should be decided by a fan vote.</li><li>It was mentioned that Oct. 8 - the anniversary of both the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and of the Club’s founding in 1997 - of this year might be the right date to unveil new elements of the visual identity.</li></ul></li><li>Weekly meetings were held with other members of the project team including rEvolution, Matt Wolff and Studio/lab. The Fire team shared some of the emerging themes from the fans’ submissions and planned for the next series of roundtables, which will be held for Supporters and Season Ticket Holders first.</li><br><li>We connected with the first four members (Drew Conner, Kevin Coval, Sarah Gorden, and Sentrock) of the Stand for Chicago Council with plans coming together for a kickoff meeting next week. We expect to add three additional members to the council and may be able to announce those additions next week.</li><br><li>This morning, we met with Club Owner and Chairman Joe Mansueto to update him on the project. He was excited about the early response from fans and eager to hear about the early themes emerging from the submissions.</li></ul>

The work is just beginning, but the early interest and engagement from fans (thank you all!) has been overwhelmingly positive. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Click here to add your voice to the project
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