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A Rose By Any Other Name Won’t Smell As Sweet!

A year ago, we looked at Brand Snakes and Ladders. Today the only branding topic is Crusaders! The GRWP is in a ferment over a prospective brand change upon their champion Crusaders Rugby franchise, forced by the Christchurch 15/3 massacre. Current polling is 76 to 14 in favour of No Change!

The word Crusaders carries such emotive power. It speaks of 1,400 years of holy war between the Christian West and Islam. (To delve deeper into fundamental beliefs, relative aggression and pivotal battles, you might read Sword and Scimitar.) Wars were ignited and blessed periodically by religious leaders of both faiths in their incessant territory/conversion/power struggle. So the use of the word Crusaders today, intensified by medieval military imagery, is seen by some Muslims as inflammatory and repugnant. Not helpful in a world where tolerance is everywhere receding.

The power of words!

Over the centuries, Christianity used these names for their mortal rival – Moors, Saracens, Turks, Golden Horde, Tartars, Barbary Corsairs, Ottomans, Arabs, Mohammedans, Jihadis, Caliphate.

Islam had numerous names for their infidel adversary – Visigoths, Greeks, Franks, Romans, Rum, Byzantines, Iberians, Austrians – but never Crusaders.

Interestingly, the words Crusade and Crusader did not appear in any Western language until after the nine Holy Land campaigns (now called Crusades) ended in 1272, with a clear-cut 7-2 victory for Islam. This defeat was inevitable – insuperable difficulties in logistics and manning would always doom these European attempts to garrison and provide pilgrim protection in Outremer.

Reverting to the current branding debate, the Purpose of a professional sports franchise is to make its fans proud. Also, to drop any beloved and iconic brand is seen as marketing madness. Expensive and futile. There is so much emotion, loyalty and tradition invested in a hero brand that to abandon such Intellectual Property is massively self -harming – in fan and player retention and in financial sustainability.

My bet is that the political need to “do something” will overcome logic, calmness and perspective, and the Crusaders brand will be suppressed by Government command.  After all, this Government and Leader are now on a world stage, espousing love, inclusion, security and no oil.

However, suppression will be futile. The Crusaders will live on in the voices of its fans. Its banning will send it underground and make it even more popular.

A replacement brand, say Pilgrims or Lambs, would not smell as sweet!

A Sixth Generation Cantabrian