A couple of weeks ago, we posted about the furor that had broken out in the American northwest, as fans of the Portland Timbers — known collectively as the Timbers Army, and represented formally by the 107ist independent supporters’ trust — threw up their arms in horror at the logo unveiled for the 2011 MLS Portland Timbers expansion team.
And quite rightly. The new look was cartoonish, with unnecessary bonus wings. It supposedly paid homage to the club’s on-and-off history stretching back to 1974, but in reality did it a disservice with such poor treatment. The failure of the front office to get enough fan input before the unveiling was a real disappointment when they have consistently used the club’s history in their marketing of the club. Here’s a reminder of the new logo’s look:
The Timbers Army, or rather the 107ist, took a sensible approach to dealing with what threatened to turn very ugly (after an initial awkward public encounter between owner Merritt Paulson and hardcore Timbers Army fans following the public unveiling). They met with the front office, and came up with modified designs that better matched the traditional look. As another reminder, here is Portland’s current crest:
To their credit, Portland’s front office and ownership listened. Here’s the club’s release on the changes:
“The MLS stable of marks holds true to our root elements while evolving to communicate our historic elevation to MLS,” said Merritt Paulson, president of the Timbers. “We welcomed fan input in the process and feel the final result appropriately honors our traditions and represents the magnitude of the organization’s step to the highest level of soccer in North America.”
Elements of the identity system included both direct fan design and input. The ligature was selected from several submissions from talented local designers who are members of the team’s supporters group – the Timbers Army. The secondary crest is a direct take-down of the primary crest, which has been altered slightly to reduce shading in the axe.
And here are the new logos and the “ligature” (yeah, I had to Google that one).
The changes don’t look radical at first glance. But it is notable that the primary and secondary logos have also been adjusted, with the shading from the axe removed to make it less cartoonish. Let’s compare:
I still think some of the elements of the new primary crest are overdone, but while subtle, the Timbers organisation has clearly seriously listened to fan input: it would be easy to make fun of merely removing the shading on the axe, but it matters they have in terms of it better representing the club’s past identity. And the secondary logo is close to being a classic. I’m not really sure what the “ligature” is all about — but it’s nice they took a fan submission and made it part of their look.
Credit to the Timbers and the 107ist for getting together sensibly and getting this done. It’s an important demonstration of how fans and front offices can work together, compromise and come up with something better for the club as a whole.
Comparison images courtesy of Calimero JackAcid on the TA messageboard.