Snipes: A Complete Breakdown of FC Cincinnati's MLS branding: Unanswered Questions, and What Comes Next.

November 12th, 2018 – Over the Rhine, Cincinnati, OH.

In a jam-packed Woodward Theater, the brass of FC Cincinnati presented the inaugural MLS campaign rebrand to the public on the very stage where Cincinnati came together in an attempt to woo MLS Commissioner,  Don Garber at a town hall almost a year ago at the peak of the #MLS2Cincy campaign.

 

#MLS2Cincy has thankfully been retired, however in true 2018 fashion - there’s a new hashtag that the group gathered for today. #IgniteUnite was started by the club to, well...ignite and unite FC Cincinnati fans over the long awaited crest and branding assets for the inaugural MLS season.

 

Play by play voices, Tom Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey opened up the presentation for FCC President & General Manager Jeff Berding who gave a nice pump up speech and introduced the reveal video.

Jamey Wagner and Ryan Brazelton from the designing firm, Interbrand were on hand to talk through the design.

 

Head coach Alan Koch and Majority Owner & CEO Carl Lidner III were also on hand to share some words with the supporters.

 

The surprise was softened more than a little bit, because like any good top-secret file – it was leaked this past Friday afternoon and the citizens of Cincinnati quickly and collectively put their happy hour drinks down, squinted at the blurry image, and began making their judgment.

 

The initial leak appears to be a piece of merchandise, which would be easily dismissible if it wasn’t linked to the official MLS store. Overall, this poor crest has taken an absolute beating from many on FCC reddit, Facebook, and Twitter –  and much to the chagrin of these folks, today’s presentation has confirmed that this is indeed the crest of our initial MLS campaign, and the foreseeable future.

 

On the surface – it really doesn’t appear to be a gigantic change from the current logo, more of a re-imagination when you see them side by side.

Logos.jpg

Since day one there have been several fan made ideas swirling around the internet and there is a common theme that collectively – FC Cincinnati fans desired something incorporating elements of the city’s flag. This idea may still be alive in future kit designs though.

I do not own or claim these images.

I do not own or claim these images.

Of course in 2018 you’ll quickly find that you cannot please everyone. Visually, it appears to be more of an update than a rebrand, and the changes made to the crest are not as thoughtless as you may believe at first glance. The presentation outlined the rationale behind the design, and the key points are actually quite compelling.

Here’s some of the key items pointed out by Wagner and Brazelton:

I do claim this sloppy image that I threw together asap after the presentation.

I do claim this sloppy image that I threw together asap after the presentation.

 

 

What remains unclear:

 

If “FC” will now stand for Fussball Club, as originally thought. This is opposing the current “Futbol” Club branding – This is something we should all get behind. Cincinnati has a rich German heritage. Nowhere else in the United States is there a city that celebrates Oktoberfest, goetta, or beer quite like us.

It’s perfectly apt for the club to be operating under the Fussball moniker because Cincinnati is likely the only city where it wouldn’t be a complete gimmick, and now if anyone else takes it - we’ll have a very natural rival.

By the way. Fussball is correct, Fußall is outdated per the German Orthography Reform of 1996. Look at the German National team’s logo. Stop with the ß.

 

What comes next:

 

Mercy Health will be the kit sponsor.

This was announced almost to the date last year. It was subtle, in that FCC was not locked in as a MLS team quite yet. Mercy, Ohio’s largest health system preemptively called dibs on the kit, and per the press release – financials will not be made available but also quoted on the same release, this deal is “on-par with Atlanta United’s deal with American Family Insurance” and conveniently enough, the financial terms of that deal are also private - but speculated to be in the $3-4 Million range annually, and this in the upper echelon of kit sponsorship investments across the league.  

 

Soccer is a fitness sport, and it makes all the sense in the world that Mercy would be all over this deal.

 

While some were hoping for something a little more near and dear to the Queen City specifically like Proctor and Gamble, Fifth Third Bank, one of our breweries, or perhaps even a Lidner family owned business like Great American or United Dairy Farmers – it’s likely that Mercy is in this partnership for the long run. The health system has also slapped their assets on FCC’s training facility that will be located in nearby suburb Milford, OH.

 

On trend with the rest of the world, MLS is being reported to be open up the option for teams to have sleeve sponsors in 2019 – so perhaps there’s hope that we’ll see a Rhinegiest skull logo somewhere on the kit.

 

Sleeve sponsors are projected to bring in an additional $500,000 USD, annually. In MLS - this would be a couple of replacement level players’ salary.

 

However - alcohol and health do not harmonize and this is all speculation.

 

Adidas is going to be the kit manufacturer of the MLS for at least the next six years after inking a massive $700 million extension last year. The color palettes for most teams are modern and trendy, but the overall look of the MLS is uniformed across the league. Not too much room for creative license, so expect our kits to be in the same template used by every team in the league.

Fanatics:

The MLS store is powered by Fanatics, who are quickly becoming the only name in online sports retail. This can be good or bad news depending on what you make of the Fanatics branded originals that the NHL has approved for official use.

In an effort to remain objective, this is all I’ll say about that.

 

Prices:

High, for jerseys at least. When perusing the MLS store you’ll see that across the league, price points are the same for all clubs. It doesn’t take too much deep thought to assume that there won’t be a whole lot of on sale or clearance merchandise for FCC since everything will be brand spanking new and they clearanced out nearly all of their USL era gear last week.

Part of my gripe with Fanatics is the NFL price point for merchandise that has a MLS demand.

 

Pre sale, tax, and shipping costs:

Authentic jerseys are being sold for $149.99

Replica jerseys are at $119.99

Youth replica jerseys, $94.99

Shirts range from $19.99 - $69.99 and there are many quality options.

Hats - $19.99-$39.99

 

In conclusion:

 

This is obviously a special day for the club. It is almost a miracle that we are here talking about this exact thing at this exact moment for a team that did not exist four years ago. Enjoy the moment, it isn’t possible to imagine that you’ll ever see a major league team develop in this city again in your lifetime - and you certainly will never see the Reds or Bengals be this accessible to you as a fan, ever.

I hope you’re #ignited and united, this is going to be fun.