Innovation & Design

All Blacks - Solid


If you ever thought that American football was a sport for the brave, you have never watched (or played) rugby. Unlike American football, rugby rules engage all players to run miles, tackle at full speed, and limit their padding to little more than wrapping their ears. At this manly game, one of the smallest nations in the world is also one of the fiercest: New Zealand.

With little more than four million inhabitants, all seemingly fans of the old English sport, New Zealand might actually have one of the largest pools of rugby talent in the world. Even New Zealand babies fiercely perform the Maori's haka -- or a dance to approximate it -- and might very well be able to teach some attitude to European rugby stars.

All that enthusiasm and tradition cannot be better expressed than in the national NZ rugby team, the All Blacks. Historians tell us that rugby rules took ground in New Zealand as early as 1870. By 1905, the All Blacks were organized and touring in Europe, bringing with them an unusual style and culture grown in the isolation of distant colonies. Still today, the speed, focus and precision of All Blacks rugby remain distinctive and much-admired characteristics of their game.

With its dark, monochromatic representative color scheme, the brand is as powerful as the team. A visit to www.AllBlacks.com reveals a website dominated by black. With white accents on a black background, there are very few gray shades aside from the photographs of the players and the games. The site is a sports portal catering to fans; it provides videos, ringtones, and desktop wallpapers, etc., as well as support in the community through, for instance, Small Blacks, a youth rugby league. Surfing through the pages will confirm that the site follows a focused brand positioning.

A main source of revenue appears to be through sales of ad banners, from sporting goods and credit card companies, among others. Although highly visible, these advertisements are mostly designed in black and white and do not intrude on the browsing experience.

Professional sport has become a global phenomenon, and sports teams increasingly pay more attention to managing their brand. The All Blacks is not only a powerful brand, but a visit to its website also confirms that it is a managed one. Now, if you want to learn the ka mate dance, spread your feet, bend your knees, cross your arms in the air, stick out your tongue, and hmm, maybe just click here


Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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