Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Rapids Branding Set To Be Extended After Successful First Year In T20 Blast

Rapids Branding Set To Be Extended After Successful First Year In T20 Blast

Worcestershire are set to extend their 'Rapids' branding to embrace all white ball cricket in 2015 after a successful first campaign under the insignia in the NatWest T20 Blast.

 The county's business director Jon Graham says that "on and off the pitch the whole purpose and philosophy behind the brand has worked" and that the days of the county "floundering and not having an identity" have gone.  

And on the pitch the team responded to their new name with some enthralling cricket, most notably in the wins over Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire at New Road in reaching the quarter-finals for only the fourth time.

 Graham said: "I think "The Rapids" for T20 is absolutely right but I think there is probably an argument to extend it across all shorter format cricket, including the Royal London One-Day Cup.

 "People can associate with the quicker cricket and certainly for the target audience it is a brand which is more appropriate.

"We are looking to extend that going into the 2015 season.  

"We've had one year at it. If it was just another nickname, that wasn't that creative with not a lot of thought gone into it, then I think it would have got lost in the fog a bit. 

"Some of the other counties have come up with interesting nicknames and there is probably more than one reason why they have changed their identity.

"With us, it was about embracing something that was perceived to be negative – ie the floods – and turn it into something positive."

Evidence of supporters buying into the new brand is there for all to see around the city with the number of people proudly wearing Rapids shirts.

Graham, a lifelong supporter of Worcestershire, said: "You are seeing a lot of Rapids merchandise around the city. That was the first objective.

"Everyone has done a really good job getting the brand out there. People understand what we are about.

"When we talked about it in the winter and the brand name being associated with the flooding, it was a bit tongue in cheek and a bit self deprecating.

"But we said when we got to game time then it was a serious brand and some of the performances, like Warwickshire here….that was serious, serious cricket. 

"Northants was the same and Derbyshire, when the pressure was on to qualify for the quarter-finals, the players responded.  

"I think on and off the pitch, the whole purpose and philosophy behind the brand, has worked.

"With the retail operation, considering it was the first year, we've done some really good numbers.

"It's also great when people phone up and say they want two tickets for the Rapids on Friday night.  

"Going back six months, that's what I said I wanted to happen – and it's happened." 

The Watershed Bar in the main marquee has also proved popular with supporters during T20 Blast matches.

Graham said: "We created the Watershed and it had nearly 1200 people go through it for the seven games and the year before we probably had about only 300 people go through the marquee. 

"We've changed our pricing structure and it needs to be relevant to the target audience.

"The days of going into a marquee for three hours and asking for £70 is just not there anymore.

"Although the economy is on the turn in a positive way, everyone has now had such a long period of watching every single penny, it’s unlikely that mind-set will change.

"People now expect value for money and we offer that, £35 for a drink, some food, private bar, great view and free admission to Bushwackers and Sin and they've done really well, hopefully that relationship is going to go from strength to strength. 

"A lot of sponsors have bought into it. When you come up to the View and the members area in the elite suite, it's rammed and rammed with all the key players in the city because this is the hottest ticket in town on a Friday night when we've got a game on.

"There have been some memorable moments, whether it be the RAF Band, or the Spitfire, or the flames, fireworks, steel bands. We've done a lot. 

"There are a few things that have come out of some research we've had done through the ECB that I think are fair with regards to the operational and structural changes at New Road.

"But when you get constructive feedback you can take this and make the necessary changes to improve the customer experience which is an ongoing commitment at Worcestershire CCC 

"That's why the Rapids brand was created because we listened to the customers. We were floundering and didn't have an identity. One thing we have got now is an identity.

"The Rapids was created to become a brand in its own right to try and encourage people to buy into it, almost like a franchise with its own tribal following.

“Everyone who comes to the New Road is equally important, whether they are coming to watch T20, 50 over or 4 day cricket. We just need to make sure the product and branding on show is relevant to the target audience. Our members remain and will always be the life blood of this great club.”