The recent storyline couldn’t be better for the Black Caps. A dream run at the World Cup including winning in the last few balls against South Africa, record beating scores and packed grounds to experience the big occasions. So how has the Black Caps brand fared through this process?
If we break the Black Caps brand down to its critical elements it is clear the brand has covered significant ground over the last six weeks.
A great brand has a story of the tension of opposites. The Black Caps certainly have their share of tensions. Historically the team has mixed results, the captaincy debate had a country torn between Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum and many other sports just seem easier to follow and understand. Amidst this backdrop the recent success and obvious shift in team culture creates an interesting tension to what people have previously heard or read about.
It seems a new brand essence of ‘Kiwi excellence’ has surfaced over the last six weeks. The team has a quiet confidence that has endeared it to New Zealand public. It relates well to our kiwi psyches of understated achievement. "We think we can post a pretty big score," says McCullum ahead of whacking 393 against the West Indies in the quarter final.
The values of the Black Caps brand have become very visible in the tournament. In many ways these values seem new. A humble approach to every match. A determination to do the very best for yourself, your team mate and your country. A belief in those around you and the ability to go with your gut instinct. The idea of leaving a legacy but enjoying the time of your life through the process.
The Black Caps brand has moved from loyalty to love. From the Beige Brigade who have supported the brand through average performances to a nation that has fallen in love with its humbleness through success. In a country that has loved a different team with a fern on the chest rather than the cap, the Black Caps have positioned themselves in the hearts and minds of Kiwis as the team that ‘can do’.
So where to from here?
Should the Black Caps win the final on Sunday, it will be a significant milestone for the brand and catapult them to a new level of engagement and interest globally. The key, win or lose, is building on the success. The All Blacks successfully partnered with AIG post the last Rugby World Cup and have built on their brand culture and winning formula. While winning is an important quality we look for in our sports brands, being humble in victory and defeat and being authentic are more important to us. These are the qualities the Black Caps need to take forward to continue the positive brand momentum with the New Zealand public.
- Julian Smith is partner and brand strategist at Richards Partners