🎉 2022 Shortlist

A Crest for All Chicago

Entrant: Chicago Fire FC

Winner 🏆
  • Best Use of Fan-Generated Content



After it became clear the Chicago Fire's initial brand redesign in 2019 was not successful, the Club began the process to start again from scratch, but this time including its fans, supporters, and city every step of the way. The months-long, fan-focused project saw more than 20,000 Chicagoans add their voice to the creation of the new identity. Once completed, the Fire creative team then was responsible for a rollout fitting of the new crest, one that fans had poured 225,000 words of written words and 500 hours of dedicated roundtable time into.

How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

Never before has an MLS club brought in its supporters from the very beginning to help create its visual identity, one that would go on jerseys, merchandise, broadcasts, video games, and so on. Ultimately, the new crest’s primary elements - a six-pointed star contained within the letter “C,” surrounded by a modernized Florian cross incorporating the Chicago city flag colors - were the most commonly requested items across all fan touchpoints. Over the course of the project, the Club heard from all 77 Chicago community areas, 152 cities across Illinois, 28 states, and 10 countries outside of the U.S. This project should inspire more organizations to be more inclusive and transparent when undergoing major transformations to ensure they get it right by those most invested and passionate about the team.

Objective: Our Club was in the unique position of recognizing its missteps, and publicly vowing to take the correct steps to remedy them. Our ultimate goal was to open up the process and be transparent in every step to allow fans and Chicagoans everywhere to dictate how the Club could honor its history and represent the city in a modern crest that would stand for all Chicago for decades to come. As our owner, Joe Mansueto, said, "I told our fans if the existing badge wasn’t working for them that we’d fix it - and that’s what we are going to do."

Strategy & Execution: The strategy of the project itself, the initial reveal, and the ultimate launch all focused on enticing both fans and non-fans to slow their scroll with eye-catching animation, visual effects, and imagery so they would be enticed into participating and eventually see themselves represented in the Club's new crest. Additionally, the Club strived to storytell well enough so participants could see a direct line from the start of the project to the end, and the launch would be less of an unveil and more of a confirmation. The modern sports fan, and moreover the modern soccer fan, takes great pride in the word "Club." Supporters should feel some amount of ownership and stake in how the team represents itself, so we provided fans of all levels the platform to participate in the discussion no matter how much or how little time they could dedicate. We did this by hosting virtual roundtables for those who wanted to voice their opinions face to face, a written submission portal for those who preferred to write down their thoughts, and posted easy and simple social media prompts to create a low barrier of entry for anyone to participate.

Results: More than 20,000 Chicagoans added their voice to the creation of the new identity. Fans penned 225,000 words of written words, 500 hours of dedicated roundtable time, and 10,000+ responses via social media. Through all of these efforts, the Club received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the fanbase and city not only on the project and resulting crest, but also for how the crest came to life through content. Fans have since embraced the crest as their own, and proudly wear the mark across their chest. Quantitatively, the crest launch generated 3.5 million impressions and 485k video views, while the yearlong project produced more than 9 million impressions and over a million video views. The Club now enters the 2022 season, its 25th season in Major League Soccer, with renewed energy and support from its supporters, and with an eye on growing to embrace more and more Chicagoans everywhere.


  • Chicago Fire FC
  • rEvolution Sports Marketing
  • Matthew Wolff Design


Justin Hubler
Director of Video & Creative Services
Chicago Fire FC

Tyler Emerick
Senior Director of Content & Creative
Chicago Fire FC

Grant Apgar
Director of Brand and Creative
Chicago Fire FC

Megan Cantwell
Vice President, Integrated Marketing
Chicago Fire FC

Ted Bryant
Senior Manager of Content
Chicago Fire FC

Alex Mueller
Manager of Video and Creative Services
Chicago Fire FC

Rafael Alvarez
Senior Graphic Designer
Chicago Fire FC

Erika Mariscal
Senior Coordinator of Content
Chicago Fire FC

Jeremy Whitmore
ideo and Creative Services Coordinator
Chicago Fire FC

Matthew Wolff
Crest Designer
Chicago Fire FC

Kyle Sheldon
Vice President, Marketing
Chicago Fire FC

Maggie Wierzchucki
Graphic Designer
Chicago Fire FC

Connor Nichols
Video and Creative Services Coordinator
Chicago Fire FC

Celebrate in Las Vegas

Join us for the 4th Hashtag Sports Awards™ presented by Budweiser on the evening of July 12, 2022 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.