The Seattle Sounders introduced their branding on Sept. 26, in hopes of further connecting with the club’s past as well as bringing a more refreshed, modernized look.
An updated look was necessary with the 50th Anniversary and the opening of the club’s state of the art office and training facility on the horizon. But, the Sounders’ main focus of the recent brand launch was to represent and show appreciation to the fans within the new markings.
“We were just steering the ship, but [the community] told us where to stop and where to go along the way,” said Seattle Sounders Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Taylor Graham.
The Sounders worked closely with fans of the club from the very beginning of the process to showcase how important they are to the overall makeup of the brand.
Dating back to two years ago, the Sounders’ internal team met with Alliance Council, an elected body representing the Season Ticket Members of the club, to initiate discussions and receive insight surrounding the ideas of the brand evolution.
“In one way or another, we were included in the process,” said president of Alliance Council Cameron Collins. “From the very first focus groups, they started to ask questions. I've been able to be there every step of the way, either staying updated or giving my feedback.”
The Sounders continued to collect responses and data in February of 2022, through both qualitative and quantitative research. In a series of surveys and workshops, the club sought out different ways to reach a wide variety of fans within the brand evolution.
“We made sure to get it in front of all different types of Sounders audiences, fans of all ages, demographics, length of fandom and representative of our growing multilingual fanbase,” said Graham.
The club also thought it was necessary to gain an outsider's perspective of those who don’t consider themselves fans of the team in order to reach an even broader scope of people.
“We worked really, really hard to try to get this survey in front of individuals who did not self-select as Sounders fans, but are still self-selecting as Pacific Northwest residents,” said Graham.
It was a way the Sounders could “include everyone” in the final product of revitalizing the branding.
“This wasn't just a, ‘Oh let's do the change for the sake of a change,’” said Collins. “It was more like ‘How can we look forward while also honoring the past,’ and that had to incorporate past players from 40, 50 years ago, to little kids, to just being inclusive in our communities and making sure that voices are heard.”
The Sounders eventually narrowed down to two directions in May of 2022, and with the help of staff members, former players, fans, and selected individuals in the art, culture and creative industries, a full breadth of marks were formed, with each marking representing different eras of the club.
Whether it be the Space Needle that served as the main feature of the most recent crest, the Orca that represented the Sounders from the 90’s to the early 2000’s, or the wave motif wordmark from the NASL and APSL days, the organization found a way for all types of fans feel connected to the brand.
“[The Sounders] embraced that 50-year history and took that and built something we can use moving forward,” said Collins. “It's got a little bit of something that everyone can enjoy.”