Established in 2010, the United Soccer League (USL) began as a Division III league with 15 teams. In the time since, the USL has strengthened its ties with the MLS, establishing affiliate connections between their teams and last year the U.S. Soccer Federation granted the USL Division II status. Beginning in 2019, as the league continues to grow, it will be introducing a new structure, akin to European leagues, where USL becomes the corporate brand of multiple leagues: USL Championship replaces what we all knew as USL proper and becomes the pinnacle of the USL; the Premier Development League becomes USL League Two, a development soccer league; and USL Division III will become USL League One, targeting cities with a population of 150,000 to one million, mostly in cities currently without a professional team. As part of the restructuring, USL has introduced a new identity system designed by Brooklyn, NY-based Athletics in partnership with USL’s in-house design team.
Athletics was tasked with extending the USL brand across all of the organization’s events and leagues: The USL Championship, USL League 1, and USL League 2. We designed a modular color and logo system to create a flexible look and feel between each league, using a shared visual language to connect the initiatives together and with the USL brand.
The USL’s new corporate logo symbolizes the growth of professional soccer in North America, incorporating 13 stripes to represent the U.S. flag. The blue letters pay homage to the league’s past while the new, modern logo and the white sphere represents a soccer ball in motion - propelling our sport forward into the future.
The pinnacle of competition - the USL Championship features a new gold design and represents the ultimate goal for players, coaches, fans and communities, all of whom aspire for excellence both on and off the field.
The foundation of professional soccer - USL League One makes its mark with a vibrant, colorful identity, as it gears up for its debut in the 2019 season with league leadership and ownership that will forge a unique identity - driven by determination, unity and inspiration.
The #Path2Pro - the PDL will become USL League Two - […] maintaining its heritage with a bold, red logo, League Two will continue to forge the game’s future, delivering the first taste of premier competition in an authentic national soccer environment with a hyper-local focus.
I know there were a lot of images to scroll through before getting to any text but this wasn’t a straightforward logo redesign that showed a simple before/after and I think that the main logo has to be addressed in context of all the new logos, so… In principle, the “USL” logo that was introduced in 2015 and that we’ve come to know well remains as is, which is good, because it’s a good logo. It now serves as the anchor for the new league structure and its logos. First up is the “corporate” logo that, in a way, replaces the 2015 logo. The biggest change here is the addition of a new icon, a speeding ball leaving a trail of 13 stripes (as in the U.S. flag), which I think is pretty fantastic — not for its patriotic-ness per se but for it’s appropriateness and smart use of it. The icon has an old-school feel that goes back to the good age of minimalism and not just minimalism for minimalism’s sake. The icon ties in nicely with the notches in the USL wordmark and it establishes a square element to build on with the rest of the logos.
For the main league, now USL Championship, the square houses a star in a gold background. It’s pretty straightforward and it does convey a sense of being the most important in the system. I get some U.S. Army logo vibes but when this lives in the context of soccer, there is not much confusion. The League One and League Two logos simply have a number in there. Again, very straightforward but also as nicely executed as it gets. All logos are now (or can be) accompanied by a geometric sans serif, Hurme Geometric Sans No.2, that, as unsurprising as it is, works very well in this system and as a complement to the logo elements. The same type family, in its various weights, is used as the brand typography throughout.
Not much in terms of applications as this identity won’t kick in fully until the start of next season but there is some clear potential seen here through bold but simple typographic treatments and some color coding of black and white images. Overall, the system may come across as simple and an obvious approach but the result is remarkably smart, restrained, and crisply executed.