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This insignia is pretty common and recognizeable, but I'm not sure I have any idea what it represents. It looks sort of like the shape of a ship, but the Rebellion doesn't have any ships of this shape that I can recall.

Rebel Alliance insignia

So, what is it?

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17  
It represents the Rebel Alliance. – Valorum Jan 4 at 18:49
2  
It's a Ferengi ship. Duh. – iMerchant Jan 5 at 15:02
    
@iMerchant holy crap! – Dpeif Jan 6 at 6:47
up vote 40 down vote accepted

In Disney Canon its origin is currently unconfirmed. But it's likely based on Sabine Wren's personal Starbird graffiti tag and/or the Jedi Crest.

logos

In Star Wars: Rebels, Mandalorian weapons expert and painter Sabine Wren uses a stylized Starbird (based on a mythological bird similar to the Phoenix, which can never die and renews itself in a nova) to tag Imperial ships and propaganda on Lothal.

enter image description here

Sabine later joins the similarly-named Phoenix cell lead by Commander Jun Sato, part of the fledgeling Rebel Alliance lead by Bail Organa and

Ashoka Tano

However, by Season 2 the show hasn't reached the point in history where the familiar crest comes into general Rebel use, but the design of Sabine's Starbird is clearly intended as an origin of the cleaner crest we know so well.

The visually-similar Jedi Crest obviously predates Sabine's logo, and was worn by Jedi generals on the shoulders of their armor during the Clone Wars.

enter image description here

We can therefore speculate that the final Rebel design may be a combination of these two - evoking both the rebirth and rebellious spirit of Sabine's Starbird, and the history and hope of the Jedi Order.

(The Legends canon explanation is based on the Marek Family Crest, but the Marek Family is no longer part of canon.)

Out of Universe:

The Rebels version of the Starbird logo was designed by concept artist Chris Glen.

"I'm probably most proud of the Rebels' phoenix logo. I made it one day on a whim while working on really early versions of the Ghost ship, and it's remained unchanged all the way through marketing. It's meant to hint at the Rebel Alliance symbol that will appear in the later films." ―Chris Glenn, Star Wars Insider 154

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1  
It's also very reminiscent of the Jedi Crest, which predates Sabine's logo by... a lot. – phantom42 Jan 4 at 17:13
    
I'm having trouble finding a clear shot of it on an official item/screencap (at work right now, so I can't dig too much), but it's on Obi-Wan's armor during the Clone Wars. – phantom42 Jan 4 at 17:34
    
    
1  
I'd be tempted to go with this photo or this if you want an actual screen capture from the Clone Wars. – user12183 Jan 5 at 3:04

It is the crest of the Marek family. At the end of The Force Unleased videogame,

The Rebel Alliance adopts it after Galen Marek's sacrifice.

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I'd add that the red starbird, being a phoenix, is a symbol of renewal, resurrection etc. According to wikipedia, Princess Leia declared it a "symbol of hope". – David Banner Jan 4 at 16:43
7  
The Force Unleashed is currently Legends, though, right? – Plutor Jan 4 at 17:29
    
@DavidBanner - does Wikipedia have a cite? – DVK-in-exile Jan 4 at 17:39
    
@DKN No, unfortunately it doesn't, but starwars.wikia provides a quote from the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: "We need a flag to rally behind. A symbol. A symbol of hope." -- Leia Organa. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Alliance_Starbird – David Banner Jan 4 at 18:01
    
@DavidBanner If you can track down the novelization, I think I remember that having more background as well. – Milo Price Jan 4 at 20:44

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