The image compares 4 emblems; in the top row are the Rebel Alliance's bird-like emblem and the nearly identical emblem of the Resistance from "The Force Awakens."  The second row contrasts the circular emblem of the Empire, with its gear-like notched pattern, with the very different First Order emblem, which is a black hexagon with an outer border and an inner white ring with inward-pointed spikes, like the mouth of the Sarlacc

From Wookieepedia:

The Rebel Alliance starbird was a symbol of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The flight helmets of the Rebel X-wing pilots were adorned with the starbird logo. Nearly thirty years after the Battle of Endor, the Resistance adopted the same emblem. Many pilots, including Poe Dameron, wore helmets featuring the logo.

This is really strange to me as the First Order openly seeks to emulate the Empire in its mission to dominate the Galaxy. Yes, the Resistance is made up of a lot of former Rebel Alliance supporters, but the Resistance was only created in order to stop the First Order. The Resistance's similarity to the Rebel Alliance is more coincidental; that's just how it played out. The First Order is intentionally emulating the Empire, both in mission and look. Give how much the First order mirrors the Empire, why didn't they use the Imperial Symbol?

Why did the Resistance use the Rebel symbol while the First Order didn't use the Empire's?

In or out-of-universe answers are fine. If there's no canon info, I'll welcome some speculation.

  • 15
    Speculation and common sense: The Rebel Alliance was successful, so its logo was a badge of honor. The Empire got pwned by a bunch of teddy bears, so its logo was a badge of humiliation and incompetence.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jan 14, 2016 at 4:51
  • 4
    Actually, that's not how it works in the real world: A faction seeking to restore an overthrown regime, a fallen nation or anything of the sort would have used the same insignia or a modified but still identifiable version of the old. It serves as a connection to the old cause you fight for, as a rallying call to old loyalists yearning for a return to the old days. It's more peculiar that the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the Order to Restore the Empire did not use the symbol of the Old Republic/Empire. That, or it is indeed a derivation I cannot see. Jan 14, 2016 at 5:04
  • @RedCaio it was to Wad Jan 14, 2016 at 5:45
  • 3
    The Resistance had no procurement budget for paints and decals and simply inherited a bunch of uniforms and equipment from the Alliance?
    – HorusKol
    Jan 14, 2016 at 6:02
  • 1
    @CearonO'Flynn ah, I had forgotten what the Galactic Republic's symbol look like. I guess that's the reason. As for the New Republic, it's visible on the Wookiepedia article. It's a modification of the Alliance symbol, similar in style to how it was done in Legends Jan 14, 2016 at 11:17

8 Answers 8


Possibly because the Imperial Crest itself

The crest is formed from a series of concentric circles of alternating black and white with a white centre from which six tall, evenly-spaced wedges extend into the black.  Two wedges align to the vertical axis and the others are spaced 60 degrees apart.  From the surrounding black ring, six blunt notches, aligned with each white wedge, extend into the narrow outer white ring, which is divided into six sectors by lines connecting the black notches to the outer black line.

was modeled on the logo of the Old Republic, known as the Galactic Roundel:

This logo has a black centre and a white background with eight black lines, aligned to cardinal directions, extending halfway to the outer border.  Midway between the end of the lines and the border are eight circular arcs forming a broken circle; the breaks in the circle align to the radial lines.

Combined with the symbol of the old Republic's Navy:

This emblem is a bluish-grey circle inscribed with a black circular line that has nine evenly-spaced square notches like a gear

Since the New Republic was the clear heir to the Republican throne, and the First Order despised the Republic and everything associated with it, it would make sense for them to distance themselves from the Imperial logo and its Republic origins.

Furthermore, the Rebel Alliance was victorious, and their achievements were something to be proud of. The Empire, on the other hand, had been crushed by a ragtag group of insurgents and a handful of primitive teddy bears. Again, this is a very good reason for the Order to distance itself from the embarrassing historical record of the Empire, to whatever degree was possible.

Finally, the Imperial Crest brought up a lot of very bad memories for much of the galaxy - this also may have played a role convincing the First Order to consider a change of aesthetics.

On a side note, the Resistance adopted the symbol of the Alliance to Restore the Old Republic, but so did the New Republic:

The New Republic crest contains the bird-like Rebel Alliance emblem in blue set on a yellow field that extends upward and to the sides in 13 broad spikes, almost like half of a compass rose.

On their torsos sit carbon-lace armor, the shoulders marked with the sigil of the New Republic: the Alliance starbird, now inside a sunburst. The symbol of a changed day, a new dawn. The phoenix, truly reborn.

  • Star Wars - Journey to the Force Awakens: Aftermath
  • 4
    Good answer, +1. The only part that confuses me is if the First Order wanted to "distance itself from the embarrassing historical record of the Empire, to whatever degree was possible" then why mirror it in every other way possible? They have star destroyers, stormtroopers, darksiders with lightsaber(s), tie fighters etc. Doesn't seem like they're all that embarrassed to be compared to the Empire.
    – RedCaio
    Jan 17, 2016 at 6:28
  • @RedCaio - They seem to be marginalized and making do with what they have - they clearly don't have the political and financial resources that were available to the Empire, so they probably consider themselves lucky to have even a few scraps of Imperial matériel. Changing a logo costs next to nothing; building a Star Destroyer costs hundreds of millions (or billions) of credits.
    – Wad Cheber
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:10

This is just speculation on my part, but I believe the reason the First Order wants to create an obvious, yet deniable, connection to the Empire.

It is sensible to assume that after Palpatine's defeat, the newly formed New Republic banned all symbols of the old regime so the galaxy could overcome its dark past - similarly to how Nazi symbols are banned in many European countries. The First Order wanted to be recognised as a legitimate political entity, and at least de jure adhered to the Galactic Concordance before Force Awakens. It could not claim to be the Empire's legal successor, or use any of its (banned) iconography, but it also needed to show that they followed Palpatine's vision, at least in spirit.

Thus, as a compromise, they created that fanged mouth symbol. It was similar enough to the Empire's emblem to attract its old supporters, but was technically not the Empire's emblem, and Snoke could always deny the similarity as coincidental.

You see something like this with modern-day far-right groups: they cannot show Hitler's swastika, and instead substitute similar, but distinct symbols, like the Celtic cross, Norse runes, or a swastika-like Greek meander. That, for example, is the flag of the Golden Dawn.

Similar to the Nazi flag, but not exactly like the Nazi flag - same as the First Order.


Let's first look at the Opening Crawl:


Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.

With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.

Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts…

"From the ashes" is our first clue. The Empire has fallen. Past tense.

The second is the rebel insignia itself - it's an abstraction that is quite reminiscent of the Jedi Order insignia during the Clone Wars: An elongated star arising between wings displayed sans bird.

The Resistance is, judging from the persons present, and the insignias, both rank and squadron, essentially New Republic Detached Forces. This has a number of historical precedents in the real world. The US has generated several such "volunteer groups" over the years... the most famous being the American Volunteer Group, under Gen. Chennault, which fought in China against the Japanese more than a year before the US officially joined the war. Likewise, the "Polish Air Force" was a mixture of US and UK citizens, Polish refugees, and some cadre and planes that escaped German bombing, which served the "Polish Government in Exile." The AVG, or Flying Tigers, used US uniforms, but without the usual patches. The PAF used Polish uniform patterns manufactured in the UK (when they bothered to wear uniforms, according to a former member). The PAF and the Flying Tigers both retained the insignia of their parent services for the duration of their "irregular status" during WW II.

The Resistance has the same kind of look as the AVG: uniforms with slightly differentiated insignia, the same symbols of allegiance, and same rank structures and equipment. (The Resistance uses bars on the rank plate, where the Rebellion used dots... but it really does look like they just "connected the dots".)

Meanwhile, looking to some of the chatter about the current canon novels, it generally seems that the Empire as a whole fell (just like in the SWEU), and like the SWEU, it appears several portions of the Empire continued to exist after the New Republic. Some of which apparently sued for peace with the New Republic.

Snoke's stated goals, as elucidated by his mouthpiece officer, General Hux, include conquering not just the New Republic, but also the other Former Imperials. Since they are, essentially, at war with the rest of the galaxy, having unique insignia is of utility. It's a practical matter to keep themselves from identifying with "lesser remnants"...

We can see that the First Order is strong; surprisingly so given the hype about it being a remnant. It's professional. It needs a logo for both morale and intimidation value. The old Imperial logo lacks a certain credibility... both with fans ("You got beaten by a bunch of Teddy Bears") and the residents of the Galaxy ("You no longer have clear superiority"). It also is quite likely that the other remnants of the Empire are reverted to somewhat less militaristic states.

Also, there is historical use to think about... Many a nation has fallen, and/or split... The Bosnians, Serbians, and Croatians continue to use the Uniforms and Equipment of Yugoslavia... but use different national symbols. Likewise, the Russian Federation uniforms are much like the Soviet ones - same ranks, same insignia of grade, but the double eagle replaces the hammer and sickle, and RFR replaces SSSR. Japanese Self Defense Forces uniforms are not much different from the Imperial Japanese Navy uniforms.

So, essentially, The First Order needs to distinguish between themselves and other "Imperial Remnants" for both political and practical reasons, and wants to retain compatibility with extant gear (and possibly gear captured from other remnants). The Resistance wants to show it's ties to the New Republic for propaganda reasons, and makes minimal changes so as to not break the treaties with other factions of the old Empire.

Now, out-of-universe, it is a marketing ploy. All the really cool toys are First Order... because we only see the T-70A X-Wing II for the Resistance, but we see the Landers, Ties, at least one other starcraft... And by different branding, there's less confusion for the end purchase over who the good guys are (by retaining a familiar symbol), and more freedom to play the "Impies vs Firsties" with your collection of figures and toys.

  • Has fallen, actually present perfect tense, not past tense. ;-) Feb 17, 2016 at 3:34

First off, I'm not sure how one choice should affect the other. Going by the Aftermath books, the ongoing Marvel comic series and the novel 'Bloodline', the First Order appears to have been around in one form or another for decades prior to TFA. Leia only formed The Resistance within the last 5 or 6 years and it was when she'd only just started to hear whispers and hints that the First Order was out there.

Leia's choice (assuming it was her's) to reclaim the old phoenix/star bird symbol is a bit of a no-brainer. It's been the symbol of rebellion and resistance in the galaxy since before the Galactic Civil War. It should be obvious why she'd want to start waving that flag, not least because most of the senior Resistance leaders are old Rebel Alliance veterans.

The First Order on the other hand is meant to be something new. While details are still scant, the general impression is that it was founded by the last surviving remnants of the Imperial fleet. The hard core Imperials and true believers who refused to surrender to the New Republic, choosing instead to flee into the Unknown Regions after the Battle of Jakku. They don't seem to see themselves as continuation of Palpatine's Empire but a purified version of it's ideals, freed of the petty corruption that plagued it.

So they've come up with a symbol to reflect that. Evoking the old Imperial crest, but still it's own thing. Leaner and meaner.


Possibly because the Rebel Alliance never really went away, whereas the Galactic Empire was crushed and the First Order (a new organization), rose from its ashes.

  • Do you have any sources to provide support for your answer? Did any characters stick around besides Leia?
    – Edlothiad
    May 16, 2017 at 13:05

Actually the First Order symbol is based on the Galactic Empire's symbol. Before that it was used by the Republic, but even earlier, it was a crest of the Sith Empire:

This emblem is a black central hexagon with a black wedge-shaped arrow extending outward from each corner the same distance as the central hexagon.  Each arrow ends in a broad arrowhead formed by two lines paralleling the sides of the hexagon, hence shaping another larger hexagon.
A white band surrounds this, outside of which is another series of black lines forming a broken outer hexagon.

The Sith Empire based it's crest on the Galactic Roundel of the Bendu Order.

This is the Old Republic's crest:

A complex asymmetric figure drawn in black against a dark grey background.  The central figure, connected by arcs to a black perimeter, is gourd-shaped with a round top and a narrower stem.  The figure is divided by a line that appears line an abstract hand holding aloft a stylized star.


The original Empire symbol (gear in circle) reminded First Order of the Death Star main blaster. I know the blast was converging on one point, then a big blast. The symbol, which might be the business end of the Planet Killer, is used to show the galaxy their power.

  • Do you have any citations to back up these claims, or is this just your opinion/interpretation?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:05

Let's face it. The resistance may have chosen to use a symbol that has significant meaning to anyone anywhere. It was a beacon of hope and therefore continued to carry that torch as the remaining factions of the empire still remained. Also with the first order... to my knowledge they are not a separate entity, but an extension of the overthrown empire. They could have possibly been a separate force in itself like other military forces in history. Napoleon had his Old guard, the nazis had the SS, and even the aztecs had the jaguar warriors. Could be the first order is the same thing... and since they would have been off the Death Star had a chance to survive and thrive... there fore they may have kept their symbol as the surviving force.

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