A soccer diary from across the pond

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lessons of the Chicago Rhythm

One thing I will recommend is for my reader to subscribe to the Pitch Invasion podcast by Tom Dunmore and Peter Wilt. They get really good interviews and really delve into topics that other parts of the North American bloggosphere doesn't manage to do in the same degree.

On the most recent podcast Peter Wilt talks about the process of starting up the Chicago Fire 15 years ago. How he had to fight against Nike to get the "Fire" name rather than the team name being the "Chicago Rhythm". While some people might dislike the Fire name it is a lot better than the Rhythm. I also like how Wilt made an effort out of going against the trend the late 90ies with cartoonish logos and colours for sports team in North America. This decision seems to have been validated by the fact that most other original MLS teams have rebranded themselves, either with a new logo and colours like the Galaxy and the Rapids or a total change including the name like Sporting KC and FC Dallas.

Some MLS 2.0 fans or Europeans tend to look at the early MLS team names, colours and logos as silly, and while there is merit to this opinion, it is important to understand why. MLS was brand new, wanted to be major league at an instant, and in that situation it can be tempting to just go with current fads and trends, rather than trying to build an identity that can last.

While there have been minor adjustments, the look of the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, and to some extent the Columbus Crew, has been consistant since they joined the league. This shows, that the identity and the symbols to represent it, have been chosen in a manner that has reflected over which community the team is in, and how to resonate with that in the long run.

I think this is a good lesson, no matter if the context in soccer or business in general. Go about your business in a way that reflects your identity. If you let fads and trends control your business plan, you as a business runs the risk of becomming a fad itself.

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