D.C. United is an American professional soccer club that competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer. United States Soccer Federation contributed to its creation. The United States Soccer Federation fulfilled its promise to FIFA by aiding in the foundation of a new professional league. On June 15, 1994, Major League Soccer selected Washington, D.C., out of twenty-two applicants to host one of the first seven teams, with three more added before the league’s launch.
The group, Washington Soccer LP under the leadership of billionaire George Soros, got the club’s rights in 1995. The company took the responsibility to choose the nickname. Some ideas included the “Spies,” “Americans,” and “Eagles.” Eventually, however, the new team’s operators decided simply to name the team “D.C. United”. The name “United” alluded to well-known European club names such as Leeds and Manchester United and reflected the team’s location in the United States’ capital. “D.C.” is a traditional acronym of District of Columbia.
The team’s colors and original logo were announced on October 17, 1995, along with those of the other ten original teams during a presentation in New York City. Black and white are D.C. United’s primary colors, though the team’s nickname is the “Black-and-Red.”
On February 15, 2001, Washington Soccer LP sold the club to Anschutz Entertainment Group. On January 8, 2002, AEG headed by billionaire Philip Anschutz became its sole investor. On January 8, 2007, D.C. United Holdings bought D.C. United from Anschutz Entertainment Group for $33 million. This group consisted of William H.C. Chang, Japanese-American businessman, Victor MacFarlane, developer, Kevin Payne, president of D.C. United, and Christian Laettner and Brian Davis, former basketball players.
On May 21, 2009, previous stakeholder Victor MacFarlane announced the sale of his share of D.C. United Holdings to majority owner William Chang, giving him a 98% stake in the organization. On October 21, 2009, Chang bought out Davis and Laettner, who held the remaining 2%, to fully control 100% of the team. In 2012, Erick Thohir and Jason Levien, co-owners of the club NBA Philadelphia 76ers, purchased the club and its holding company, with Chang remaining a minority investor.
Meaning and History
From 1996 to the present, D.C. United had three logos. They had a common concept (image of a bird with spread wings), color scheme (a combination of black, red, and white) and style (military-themed design). The club was repeatedly accused of the fact that its logos looked like the Nazi eagle. So the club had to change the debut emblem in a year after its approval.
1996 – 1997
The first logo of D.C. United features a Norman shield. The heraldic element is triangular with smoothly curving sides. The red surface has a black outline. There is a framed team nickname on top. Dark letters outstand on the white background. The words are written uppercase without spaces: the dots are the only thing that separates “D.C.United”. The typeface is antique; it looks elegant due to the squiggles and contrast between thin and thick lines.
A bald eagle – the national bird of the USA – takes most of the shield, representing strength and speed. The eagle is facing right, and his wings are wide open. Six schematic feathers (three of each side) point downwards. There are three white stars with a black outline under them. There’s also a soccer ball in the center of each pentagonal figure. They represent the region’s three jurisdictions.
1998 – 2015
Debut DC United logo lasted for only one season. In 1998, the team changed it under public pressure. They kept the bald eagle, which used to be compared to Nazi eagle, and changed some details. The heraldic shield became less well-rounded and angular. The letters extended. Designers added a small space between “D.C.” and “United.”
The color scheme of the DC United logo remained the same; however, designers drew a white line between the red surface and black outline. The same line outlines the eagle. Eagle’s head is disproportionately small and turned to the left. The wings are spread like on the previous logo; only the feathers point sideward. Three pointy triangles in the tail and red eyes speak for aggression.
There is a yellow pentagonal star with a white outline in the center of a bird and a soccer ball inside this star. This soccer ball is a reminder of a club’s triumph in the inaugural season of Major League Soccer in 1996.
2016 – present
In 2013, United conducted thorough market research on the current state of the brand. The research pointed to the need for modernization to reflect the growth of the sport and the league in the United States. The current brand did not adequately represent the United community. The DC United emblem got the new look, but the previous concept didn’t change: it was kept as a D.C. United tradition.
After working with Element Advertising on the initial logo design, Red Peak Group brought on the designer Peter Horridge to handcraft the final version of the logo. Horridge is based in the UK and redesigned the Royal Coat of Arms for the Queen of England’s Royal Household.
On December 10, 2015, D.C. United unveiled an updated logo at Union Market. It features a triangle pointy Old French shield. The nickname is in the black frame above the heraldic symbol. The font is sans serif without squiggles. All letters are uppercase.
The eagle is in the center of the DC United logo. His wings are escaping out of the shield, reinforcing the core brand value of freedom. The shape of the eagle’s head hasn’t changed but is now turned to the right. There are two wide stripes in the bird’s lower part and three pentagonal stars above them in line. These elements are taken from the D.C. flag and George Washington family emblem, dated by 1559.
The color scheme hasn’t changed since 1996, but the shades became darker and deeper. Outline, wordmark, shield, and eagle’s body are black—the background behind “D.C. United” and internal outline are white. Stripes and stars are red.