ByÂ Rashi Kakkar:
19th May 2013 at Hyderabad – the Sunrisers were taking on KKR in what was the last league game of IPL 6. The game was critical and the broadcasters were constantly flashing the points table (Sunrisers needed a win to go through to the playoffs). My friends and I sitting in Delhi didn’t feel great watching that game. It was less to do with the on field action and more to do with the constant reminder from the broadcasters that our home team sat at the bottom with just 6 points coming from only 3 wins! We realized that the Delhi Daredevils had reached the nadir and we were hoping that when the IPL tamasha starts next year they would be a “new refreshed team”.
The team owners probably shared our sentiments as no players were retained before the Feb 12th auction and Eric Simons stepped down to become assistant coach to Gary Kirsten. While these changes were there for all to see (and endlessly debate) what got my attention was the subtle changes that the owners made – Amrit Mathur making way for Hemant Dua as the new CEO and the rebranding exercise undertaken by the Double Ds. I have no real expertise to analyze CEO changes but being a fan and therefore “a consumer” for the team I was pretty curious to check out the new logo.
“A Logo is an important piece of the branding strategy. It is a graphical mark of representation that can provide consumers with an instant and powerful brand recognition. A logo must portray the values and goals of the company.” These (or something similar) were the words my marketing professor used in college to help us understand the importance of those swiggly lines and brush strokes that usually accompany a firm’s name. So, armed with all the knowledge I have acquired (subject to the limitation of knowledge and insight one acquires from a B.com (H) at Delhi University!) here is my take on the rebranding exercise undertaken by the Delhi Daredevils.
For those who may have forgotten – the old logo was horizontally placed with the words Delhi Daredevils engulfed quite literally in a “ball of fire”. Using differentiated font sizes, the old logo clearly emphasized the word Daredevils more than the name of the franchise city. It appeared that the team management was creating an identity for the team around the “style of play” rather than franchise city’s name. The spectators thus associated the team more with “Daredevilry” rather than “Delhi” and the use of a swashbuckling colour like red only reinforced the daredevil identity. The intention of the team management to create this identity were pretty explicit and clear when they signed on Bollywood’s own daredevil Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador of the team in 2008. This was followed by releasing the team anthem – “Khel Front Foot Pe” (“Play on the front foot” or “play with aggression“). For the first few sessions the players reciprocated this identity brilliantly, by playing fearless Cricket.
When the good times are rolling, no one wants to make any changes. But in the commercialized world of pro sports when your “product” starts failing (the runs had dried up and wickets were not being snapped) heads start rolling. On 12th March 2014 Delhi daredevils launched version 2.0.
And around the same time I remember being greeted by a full page advertisement in the sports section of the newspaper, introducing me to the “new” Delhi daredevils “The spirit rises again. This time, in new colors.” The background was light blue (which was in complete contrast to the previously used black) dotted with kites and a silhouette of the Red fort on the side. This was a clear attempt to reinforce the Delhi identity. Besides retaining the color red (though a much less aggressive shade of red) the logo had completely changed. The new logo guided the eye, by the virtue of its orientation, vertically, giving a sense of ascent and speed, like a kite, but still retaining a certain softness and grace. Unlike the previous logo, the new one used identical font sizes for the 2 words Delhi and Daredevils, ensuring that one aspect of the team does not overshadow the other. The management is going all out to try and make the average Dilliwala feel that this is “their” team. The official press release stated “The new logo depicts a ‘Flying Kite’. It is inspired by the art of kite flying, a celebrated pastime for the people of Delhi….The new logo embodies the spirit of our fans, the city of Delhi and our team. When our boys play, we believe that sky is the limit.”
What I did find interesting was that the new logo did not have any obvious association with a particular sport. Could it be that GMR has ambitious plans to forge into other sports under the Daredevils brand? If nothing else, the new brand identity definitely gives them the flexibility to do so.
In sports, you support a team because of a sense of belonging you feel towards them. The team becomes an extension of yourself and represents you. Each win brings a feeling of ecstasy while each loss brings in pain that you mourn. At the primary level it is easiest to create this sense of belonging through tangible identities such as the city. And maybe that is what the daredevils are trying to do – encourage Delhiites to come forward and support this “new relaunched team”.
Was the rebranding exercise a good idea? Possibly. It wipes out the bad memories of last year. To make people forget that you lost badly is always a good idea because at the end of the day we all love a winner.