The Crusaders will keep its name going forward, but will be attempting to "evolve their identity" with a new logo.
The Crusaders and NZ Rugby today announced the outcome of its brand review, which will see the Christchurch-based Super Rugby franchise retain its name and "reclaim its meaning through a new brand".
The controversy around the 'Crusaders' name began shortly after the Christchurch mosque attacks in 15 March, where many felt that the name was inappropriate since it comes from 'the Crusades' - a series of religious wars in the Middle Ages between Christians and Muslims.
The Crusaders today attempted to distance itself from that meaning as the franchise presented its "unique brand story" to key stakeholders, which includes the introduction of a new logo, inspired by the region and the whakataukī 'mā pango, mā whero, ka oti te mahi.'
Crusaders chairman Grant Jarrold said: "This brand review represents a significant body of work, that has looked into all aspects of our club's identity, and has given us a much clearer picture of who we are, what we stand for, and how we are seen by others. This has helped to inform some important decisions about our brand going forward."
A full review was confirmed back in June and brand agency, Designworks, was commissioned to complete the work, including an audit of the club, understanding and development of the club's story, the development of name and identity options, and refinement of the brand.
Led by the Crusaders and NZR Boards, and following significant consultation, Designworks helped the club develop an identity story – a description of who we are and what we represent. It reaffirmed that:
o We are here to do good for each other and for our community.
o We are inclusive; we welcome others into our whānau, building a sense of
belonging in something that is more than rugby.
o We have a culture that enables people to enjoy themselves, to be themselves,
and to believe in themselves.
o Our people are true to themselves, and selfless for others. They are proud
individuals, connected to a common cause.
o We are leaders in our sport, and in our community.
o We represent our legacy with pride; we represent the collective strength of our six
unions; and we reflect the passion and pride of our fans, gaining strength from
their support and giving it back.
o We are for each other. Winning rugby is just the result.
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: "Once we had a clear identity story, we needed to ensure we have a brand that accurately and authentically reflects that moving forward. The research showed us that the brand element people most strongly connected with was our colours – red and black. The whakataukī, 'mā pango, mā whero, ka oti te mahi' which speaks to the concept of 'With black and with red we will achieve' has become an inspiring proverb for us because of its relevance to what we stand for, and that is reflected in the new branding."
The Tohu (symbol) is shaped by our natural landscape which stretches from the top of the Southern Alps to the depths of our moana.
Taking the form of the letter 'C' but expressed in a way that is unique to us. It nods to our legacy while moving us forward.
Brought together through the substance of our colours, mā pango (the colour of infinite potential) and mā whero (the colour of true leadership). It is the combination of these rich ingredients that defines the Crusaders and our evolved identity.
"When we took a thorough and honest look into who we are, the imagery we were using, with its nod to Christchurch's English heritage, did not effectively portray the region we represent or who we are as a team. For example, we represent the top of the South Island, not just from Ōtautahi or Canterbury, and our team is diverse and multi-cultural. We believe that the logo we have launched today is a much more fitting representation of this team, organisation and its supporters," Mr Mansbridge said.
The Crusaders will introduce the new logo in its marketing and at-game collateral in 2020, as much as is practically possible.
While the main focus of the brand review was not the club's name, it did consider whether alternative name options would more accurately reflect the club's identity and story.
Ultimately, it was decided that no name better represented the club's commitment to living its values - crusading for social improvement and inclusiveness, and crusading with heart for our community and for each other - than 'Crusaders' did. Mr Mansbridge also reaffirmed the importance of celebrating the club's history moving forward:
"The brand review was future-focused, but we were clear from the beginning of this process that our past is an integral part of who we are. This club has an incredibly proud history, and celebrating that history is always going to be a vital part of our brand story. We will continue to tell that story with immense pride, but that does not prevent us from evolving and taking an exciting step forward."
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson added: "When you're a leader you've got to know where you've come from to know where you're going, and the legacy of this club is a big part of who we are. This process has been invaluable in helping us to reaffirm where we've come from and to find a clear direction going forward. We look forward to taking this brand into the future with the people of the Crusaders region alongside us."
NZR Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum added: "A brand review of this nature is both a challenge and a huge opportunity so, alongside the Crusaders Board, we sought out some of the top research and brand agencies in New Zealand to help ensure that we got this right. Thank you to Research First and Allen + Clark for their initial research, and to Designworks for undertaking such a comprehensive brand review. I'd also like to thank everyone who has taken part in this process, for their honest and heartfelt input.
"A brand is much more than a name or a logo and going through this brand review has shown us that it is the values and legacy of this club that really resonates with fans. Those are the things that we need to value and retain, even as the Crusaders brand evolves."
Mr Mansbridge concluded: "We have consulted widely and had many, many conversations with a range of people throughout this process. This has set us on a path to form new relationships that we didn't previously have, and build on existing relationships to take them to a deeper level of understanding and appreciation. What we have learned from this process is that more kōrero equals more understanding and we look forward to continuing to engage with our stakeholders – from our staff and players, to commercial partners, provincial unions and fans - as we embark on this brand evolution together."