Last week South Africa Rugby announced that they would cut the use of the Springbok logo from the National Rugby team – full story here.
The issue is divided along racial lines as most blacks saw the use of the Springbok on the uniform as a symbol of a time when they were not allowed to wear the jersey.
The Nov 8-9 issue of the Sydney Morning Herald carried quiet a lengthy piece on the matter and even submitted question to South African Rugby. The response, from Andy Marinos, acting head of SA Rugby, was that the union supported the use of the Springbok emblem and in fact stood to lose a significant amount of marketing money it they were forced to remove it.
Marinos also said “Commercially, it would have a significant impact, and given the fact that the springbok has been placed as one of the super brands in SA’s basket and has a worldwide appeal …”
Now that day has come and the Springboks will now use the Protea logo - something that all other national teams have done since the first democratic election in 1994.
The use of the Springbok has not been completely removed but it must not compromise the use of the Protea. The design and positioning is still to be finalised.
But the bigger question is - what will they be called?
No doubt there will be a lingering resistance for some time from those that opposed the change. I personally do not support the change because I think that it serves as an important reminder of how far South Africa, and Rugby, has come since those dark times. Erasing those things that remind us of it takes us down the path of not remembering them – forgetting them doesn’t mean it never happened.
At the end of the day a brand is what people perceive it to be in their mind. Those that fought so hard to make the change should have instead spent their time changing people’s perception of the Springbok brand. They should have spent their time changing the Springbok brand into a positive thing that all South Africans can aspire to.
Additionally, I also think it unfair that SA Rugby is now going to lose significant brand equity despite them using a logo that was never illegal!
Regardless, it has now been changed. Maybe South African Rugby can employ some of the tools and techniques brands in other industries have used to successfully change brand names.
South Africa are a proud and passionate country of Rugby supporters with a long history.
Other brands boast the same types of proud and passionate followers … which brand or brands do you think would elicit the most resistance if the government legislated against the use of their current brand name? What about the brand you work for?