The one to beat.
All Blacks: Brand Evolution
IP Creation, Brand Engagement + Management Systems
The prestige of the All Blacks has shifted significantly in recent years - from national icon to a truly international brand. The challenge laid down for DNA was to help secure and protect core NZRU intellectual property internationally, to organise a constellation of assets in to a family of brands and to extend the whole brand portfolio's articulation and expression both nationally and internationally.
For the NZRU when reviewing its most famous visual icon and most valuable commercial property, it faced a unique challenge. Few other brands command such attention and inspire such extraordinary pride among the New Zealand public, and the global rugby community as the All Blacks. Faced with revising one of the most famous marques in world rugby, the NZRU and DNA needed to reconcile three different imperatives; Strengthen and modernise the visual expression of the All Blacks brand mark, so it would continue to hold its own in the international arena; carry forward the unique heritage value it enjoyed; and be distinct enough for the NZRU to trademark and protect in all global markets.
DNA reviewed all national team identity’s, workshopped the options for evolution across core factors; heritage, values, brand distinction and modernisation. In depth evaluation and research on emerging Rugby markets and commercial opportunity was mapped against the brand territories and assessed for an IP value or risk. It was only at this stage that we presented the NZRU Board with options and detailed discussion surrounding the implications of each option, the robustness of protection from each approach, the complexities inherent in rollout and the other avenues available. After significant discussion and debate, DNA was able to achieve changes to the name, architecture, mark that gave it the protections the NZRU was looking for – and created a family of brands that were distinct, aligned and resoundingly like no other property in Global rugby.
The silver fern – a potent symbol of national pride that is unable to be trademarked – was retained but modified. Removing the words ‘New Zealand’ from the team’s name was highly controversial but it allowed the marque to give more emphasis to the mana and power in the name All Blacks – and be protected globally. A unique typeface was developed for the name, creating a brand device that can be protected by trademark and is able to be used stand alone when necessary. This bespoke font is central to the NZRU family of brands.
DNA worked closely with the NZRU to evolve a brand that honoured the All Blacks' proud heritage, while at the same time allowing the All Blacks' brand to move up in the world of truly global sports brands.
The All Blacks brand is a global property. Clear strategy and marketing is essential to transcend the peaks and troughs of on-field performance. The brand and the team will always be the ones to beat – this directs the thinking and approach to the essence and delivery of the brand ‘on and off’ the field.
The brand system is thoroughly documented and works robustly across the multitude of applications in which it is seen – from the jersey to billboards, collateral and merchandise through to broadcast and online. The new brand was quickly adopted throughout the rugby and commercial communities before the RWC. Vitally, the brand is now protected without impinging on other organisation’s right to use the silver fern.
Changes to the All Blacks brand have not only made the logotype itself stronger, they have also protected the marque as an invaluable piece of intellectual property. That in turn has increased the protection of sponsor and licensee rights. The All Blacks are definitely always 'the ones to beat' - on and off the field.
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