This morning The Goat Parade broke news that Chivas Guadalajara Licensing LLC has filed trademarks on what appear to be two possible rebrands, either as Los Angeles SC or Los Angeles FC. As grounds mates at the StubHub Center and the sharers of the Los Angeles market, such a rebrand would have an impact on the LA Galaxy. However, I'm more interested in the rebrand itself.
I've written before about rebrands, specifically the one in 2007 which took this club from green to blue. From MLS 96 'til now few clubs have kept their original branding, with the Clash now the second San Jose Earthquakes after the original franchise moved to Houston which considered a year based branding that was deemed potentially offensive. The Burn are now FC Dallas, the MetroStars are now the Red Bulls, the Wiz are now Sporting Kansas City, Miami is taking its second stab at MLS after contraction, the Rapids have taken on new colors.
If anything it has been a league in flux, like a teenager trying to find their identity. The expansion teams of MLS 2.0 have either gone for heritage or for a foreign connection. Chivas were part of the first wave of expansion after the Florida contraction, and would be the first of the expansion teams to undergo a major rebranding.
The possible new identities featured in the Goat Parade article call to mind the Chivas second kit that debuted last season. It's interesting to see the commentary there from just a year ago (where Vegara told reporters it was time to learn Spanish) to these possible changes. Gone is club deportivo, and in its place are two Anglicised names.
Black, red, and gold feature in both the Chivas second kit and the possible rebrand identities. The rebrand choices also features elements from the LA City seal (lion, castle, bear, star) that features in the rebano angelino crest. The four quadrants in the LA seal represent the various governing bodies to impose law over the area.
It's interesting that in the LASC crest Mexico is left out. It borrows two elements from Spain's Coat of Arms, a castle which represents the ancient Kingdom of Castile and a Lion representing the Kingdom of Leon. The bear and star pay tribute to California, so the crest skips the Mexico and USA elements of the LA seal.
It seems the Galaxy could soon face the same issue as the New York Red Bulls. LA has had the second team in their market for nine years, but it's never had a second team using LA as part of its identity. Chivas USA had for a parent one of the most popular teams in Los Angeles, but they could have set up shop anywhere with a sizeable Spanish speaking population.
Jorge Vergara on @ESPNMX: "We are carrying out studies because four years of failures has degraded the name of Chivas in Los Angeles a lot."— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) February 17, 2014
This is what's so fascinating about branding. Here's Vergara essentially saying the name of my team has been degraded in Los Angeles. Yes CD Guadalajara has it's own separate TV contract in LA and has signage in liquor stores all over the city, and is one of the winningest clubs in Mexico, but according to Vegara four years of losing has destroyed all that goodwill.
When Vegara admits that he's considered changing the name because the Chivas brand is degraded in LA, it feels like he's missing the point. Think of it like Coke and Diet Coke. Both are competing with Pepsi, but Diet Coke is more specifically competing with Diet Pepsi. It has to be good on its own or it's not going to sell in the Diet Soda market, no matter how good Coke may be.
I have to imagine any rebranding would be done in conjunction with a move. It could be that in a year or two the LA Galaxy are competing with a team using the City of LA as its branding playing within the city limits. Whether LA2 succeeds in the future will come through success on the pitch, no matter how many ancient kingdoms they reference in their crest.