IN THIS DIGITAL AGE WITH ITS SPEED OF CHANGE, ANY BRAND THAT REFUSES TO INNOVATE WILL DIE
Bernard Kelvin Clive
The Carolinas website (carolinasrugby.com) had been hosted through SportLomo for some time now. While it had severe limitations, it was convenient as this was the chosen application by USAR Rugby for multiple tasks. There were also quite a few other priorities ahead of any changes to the website.
The general opinion at all levels was that SportLomo had fallen short of expectations. As the CGRU admin for the past 18 months, I can attest that it was a struggle after numerous calls with SportLomo staff in Ireland, particularly with the USAR scores reporting process, website capabilities and just general functionality. In the summer of ’22, USAR made the decision to cancel the remaining year of the SportLomo contract after evaluating multiple other platforms, including Rugby Xplorer.
The rollout was extremely aggressive with the goal of hosting registration of clubs and players by the start of the 2022-2023 season in September. It also had multiple delays coupled with an overwhelmed staff trying to keep up with too many questions from all unions. The abrupt process left the Carolinas in a jam as we lost our ability to make any edits to Carolinasrugby.com through the SportLomo admin site. We also were unable to determine who owned the domain rights to be able to take the site down. Unfortunately, many still referred to the outdated and inaccurate site throughout the fall season, but we had no way of taking the site down. SportLomo did not respond to our requests to remove the site.
Much earlier in the fall of 2022, we had purchased “CGRU.rugby” and had integrated it into a Google business account to centralize emails and create better collaboration of documentation. With the successful application as a non-profit, the net cost has been minimal while reaping the benefits of communication and organization.
The intent had been to transition the SportLomo website from Carolinas.com to CGRU.rugby once we had the volunteer resources to make this successful. This USAR transition made this the opportunity to make a rebranding move.
The CGRU has changed...
Over the past 2 years, the CGRU has seen multiple changes with the addition of a collegiate D1 conference along with multiple Georgia-based clubs reaching out to us to join. With a mission of promoting the game and increasing participation, we gladly welcomed many clubs. We’re now at the point where we have more members in Georgia than in South Carolina. With that, we had heard from many that the pine and palmetto in the current logo were not representative of our demographics. We also noted that as graphic tools improved, our logo was slowly becoming outdated. When gathering feedback, we heard some common themes: Many felt underrepresented, that there was some north-south animosity, that the college structure was a mess, and that no one cared about women’s rugby.
Outside of the rebranding, we approached the Blue Ridge Conference, a CRAA D1 conference of six collegiate women’s programs. Despite being highly competitive on the national scene, it lacked administrative support. Meanwhile, we realized that our D2 division was not well supported (didn’t even have a matrix schedule) so we needed to give it some attention. The integration has given us a solid footing in the CRAA including representation on the CRAA women’s executive board as well as becoming the host for the D1/D2 East Regional in '23.
Researching what we could do...
The idea of a rebranding started over the summer. After tossing around multiple suggestions, it was decided by the board that a name change was not in the cards as our bylaws would require a member vote. However, a change in logo and color scheme seemed appropriate as we needed something to better represent the clubs now located across five states.
Working with a marketing group as well as former ACC staff who had worked on their logo revisions, we landed on a mountain background and the outline of the states. The one common theme is the Blue Ridge Mountains across all of the states. The forest green of the pines in the mountains combined with the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean looked good. Then we added a gold accent to represent our national champions.
Meanwhile, the website was being built from the ground up. Rugby Xplorer has a website option but they were unable to give a timeline as to when it would be available to US-based organizations, forcing us to use a different platform. We are also in a unique position in that we manage 3 instances of Rugby Xplorer due to USAR’s structure.
Using volunteers and offshore resources, CGRU.rugby has recently launched in time for the spring season. There is still much to do including optimization and additional content, but we are in a usable state that does what we need: allow for increased communication and sharing of valuable information.
True leaders will always push things forward for the betterment of the organization. We must continue to move forward and grow the game of rugby. The board is composed of volunteer leaders who are all stepped up and are trying to do the right thing. We all want others to feel that same feeling after we first stepped onto the pitch…Anxiety & adrenaline while covered in mud, blood, sweat and tears. Just like on the pitch, we make mistakes, but we pick each other up and move on without tearing another down. We’re committed to representing our members without personal agendas, and are focused upon providing pathways towards being successful.
At the end of the day, marketing is a subjective medium, guaranteed to not please everyone. However, nothing about the rebranding affects play on the pitch. It's time for the new board to get to work and focus growing the game…although I might take some time to paint the logo on the pitch at the playoffs.