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Q&A with Kris Radlinski

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The decision. The process. The badge.

Why have Wigan Warriors chosen to take the bold and ambitious move of changing the Club badge?

Following Sunday’s unveil of the new badge, executive director Kris Radlinski answers the questions and explains the reasons behind the change.


Why change the badge?

As part of Super League’s adoption of a broadcast-first digital strategy in 2019, they did an individual audit of Super League clubs – to inform clubs where they thought they were at. The main feedback we got was that our crest was outdated, old fashioned and probably not recognisable. This reaffirmed what we had been thinking for a while – that we needed to do something with our badge. Our original crest was adapted by the town in 1922 and the rugby club starting using this in the 1960s when teams started having badges on the jersey. We’ve never really owned the crest; it’s been a town crest. The look and feel that Super League was going for was similar to the NFL, the NBA and the NRL where the brands are so recognisable throughout the sports. 

We’ve made no secret over the past few years that we need to attract a younger crowd. We do have an ageing fanbase, so we need to look at different ways in which we can engage and inspire the next generation in this hyper-connected world we are now living in. The business strategy of Super League is being led by industry leaders and industry experts, who have got great creditability and designed the Premier League badge, for example, in Nomad. You listen to their advice and you analyse your own business needs. If we look at our retail department, for example, our badge just isn’t workable. It’s not scalable. When we shrink it, colours blend into each other and it costs £3.20 to embroider 21,000 threads onto a garment. It also limits our range – we have companies who say they can’t work with us because the crest is too complicated. 

So, when you take everything into consideration and you look at the business aspirations, the brand aspirations and the limitations that are being put on the company – the only thing stopping us is the emotional connection to the crest, which I appreciate and understand, probably more than anyone.My chairman, Ian Lenagan, and I, who between us, have got around 120 years’ worth of invested commitment and emotion in the Club, feel as though now is the right time to do it. We know that fans are consuming sports differently, so we took a look at the current sporting landscape to see what’s working for some of the biggest clubs in the world and fed that into the process. 

Others follow. We lead.

Introducing our new badge…#NeverGonnaStop 🍒⚪#WWRL pic.twitter.com/8zKYA7jEiW

— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪ (@WiganWarriorsRL) November 1, 2020

How did the process start?

The whole process has taken just over a year, from the initial brainstorming meetings, through the design process and then ultimate sign off. It started with an initial consultation. Nick Payne, who works for Robin Brand Consultants in London, had interviews with me, the Chairman and his family, our marketeers, our commercial department and our sales department. With a project of this size, consultation from all stakeholders has to be an important consideration, which is why speaking to a cross-section of fans was critical in this process. Nick sat down with a fan panel that we created of young and old, male and female, and he talked about the history of the crest and what it meant to people, what elements we needed to retain and how we wanted it to look and feel to everybody. He then went away and designed a creative brief, before coming back for us to sign it off. 

Kris-Radlinski3-1024x683.jpgExecutive director, Kris Radlinski.

What are the elements of the badge?

One of the key people involved in this process wasn’t from Wigan, but was taking a look into the eyes of the initial draft of our Warrior and said that he had always seen a steely glare in the eyes of people from Wigan; something forged deep within them that showed real passion and determination. That really got us thinking and we set about ensuring that the Brigante warrior on the badge, representing the very early history of our town, had exactly that intense look about him.  We’ve retained some of the other non-negotiables like the Ancient and Loyal motto and of course our name, as well as bringing in other elements of our identity for the first time with the inclusion of 1872 and the Cherry and White hoops within a Northern Soul-inspired circle, which provides another very contemporary reference to our town’s proud history. 

The more and more I’ve worked on this badge and design and looked at it every single day for the last five months – it comes to life. And I want people to understand that the badge and eyes of this particular Warrior are the eyes of every single Wiganer. It’s defiance, it’s that determination to succeed, to prove people wrong. The eyes of a Wiganer – that’s a really important narrative to the badge. I really think it reflects Wiganers well. We hope people understand it is more than a badge – it’s about being part of this town. It’s about being that rebellious soul, this defiant character who’s going to succeed. Because that’s what Wiganers do, we succeed. When you bring all of these things together and all these different elements – it builds a story. 

SO, how did we create our new badge? 🤔

Here’s our step-by-step guide… 👇#NeverGonnaStop #WWRL pic.twitter.com/b2q1MyUA2j

— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪ (@WiganWarriorsRL) November 1, 2020

What would you say to fans who might be against the change of badge?

The single worry, fear and apprehension is ‘will people like it?’ – there’s no doubt about that. We are very, very traditional town. We are a very humble town – we respect where we’ve come from, we respect where we’re going. I guess the fear is you’re going to get criticism. But let’s be clear. We are doing this to try and make us better. We are trying to make the Club better. You have to be bold; you have to be brave and you have to be confident. The key thing in all that is telling the story and having the clear narrative behind it of why we’re doing it, which is so important. We have gone through this process with a fine-tooth comb, ensuring we have ticked every single box to make sure we are answering every question.

This has been going on behind-the-scenes when we’ve been trying to keep the business and the sport alive, so we’ve put ourselves under an extreme amount of pressure to try and create something which takes us forward post-Covid. I’m not feared, I’m not scared – people are entitled to an opinion. I’m going in with my eyes wide open, the Club is going in with its eyes wide open. People are emotionally connected to the badge – they have it on tattoos, they have it on gravestones, and it will never go away. The old crest will always be there in our heritage and will be visible in relevant circumstances, helping to lead us into the brave new world by reminding us of where we come from and where we want to be heading.

We’ve had so many players who have worn that crest and we respect that, and we have to never ever forget that. I know people in Wigan – I live here – I get the criticism when we don’t win, I get the pats on the back when we do win. You’re not going to please everybody – I am confident we are doing this for the right reasons, which is to make this Rugby League Club a better Club. This is us looking forward and saying this has to happen to keep us up to speed with the modern world, modern sport and modern broadcast and digital strategy. 

🗣 NEW BADGE | "We feel as though now is the right time to do it."

🎥 Executive director Kris Radlinski explains the reasons behind the Club's new badge.

Watch 👇 #NeverGonnaStop 🍒⚪ #WWRL pic.twitter.com/y0mmyElbNP

— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪ (@WiganWarriorsRL) November 1, 2020

What does this new badge symbolise?

The badge is one thing, but it’s part of a wider movement where we are making this cultural shift – to come out of Covid and look forward with great optimism and to the Club and sport forward. We will be enforcing a new working culture, in which our workplace will bring us in line with all leading companies in the world. Using staff picked values and standards, we will drive quality in everything we do to provide a superior product on and off the field. 

I like to think there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we are coming out the other side. I almost see this as a beacon of hope. We are going to come out on the other side of this strong and this badge is going to guide us. We all know just how important 2021 is from a broadcast perspective and we would like to think that this modern way of working will show that we are not remaining static. We are proactively looking at ways to improve. 

All we ask is that fans approach this with an open mind and understand that we are doing it to make us better and improve everything we offer to them.I am confident we are doing this for the right reasons, which is to make this Rugby League Club a better club. This year has made us all review our life goals and priorities. The challenges that the world is facing are the most difficult in many of our lifetimes. Regardless of people’s initial reactions, this has to be viewed as a positive. We are making a bold and brave statement to look forward with optimism and hope. We don’t want to just exist. Come with us on this journey.

Wigan Warriors badge

To experience a full interactive display of exciting content that helps to bring the new badge and its story to life, visit our badge microsite now.

Be among the first fans to get your hands on the new look by checking out our new 2021 hummel training kit and travel wear in our online store.

1900X490-TRAINING-KIT-1024x264.jpg 2021 Travel Wear

The post Q&A with Kris Radlinski appeared first on Wigan Warriors Blog.

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