Is it time for a Titans rebrand?

Robert Burgin Columnist

By Robert Burgin, Robert Burgin is a Roar Expert

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    Like the vexillum of a Roman legion, the logo, colours, name and reputation of a rugby league club are intended to embody the culture and identity of the group which marches behind them.

    Even when the North Queensland Cowboys were getting roasted like a Christmas dinner, you had no doubt who they were.

    They were boys from the bush, salt of the earth, ready to roll their sleeves up and be in the fight, without pretensions that it would ever come easily.

    The Cowboys moniker fitted perfectly, and even with a few tweaks to their marketing over the years, footy followers were never in doubt who they were; what they stood for.

    It became legend that foundation players dripped sweat while landscaping the very hill on which fans parked their derrieres.

    A similar case can be built around the Warriors. They’ve certainly seen some lean seasons, but they have branding which is culturally apt, distinctive, aspirational.

    Of course, part of their brand recognition comes with longevity, and now both the Cowboys and Warriors have passed the 20-year mark, there is tangible goodwill embedded in their insignias.

    This is the dilemma with the argument about to be presented.

    Gold Coast Titans player Ryan James

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    Should the Gold Coast Titans undergo a rebranding, or will they be better served by sticking with what they have and forging an identity on perseverance alone?

    The problem with the visage of the Titans is that it has always felt like the product of a spin lab, concocted from a test tube.

    The colours were market-tested, designed to shift the maximum number of merchandise units, or as the common person might call them, jerseys.

    The name evolved from a confusing, cynical compromise intended to capitalise on existing intellectual property, embody past incarnations of Gold Coast franchises, and avoid a well-documented clash around the mooted ‘Dolphins’ emblem.

    In the end, through trying to achieve the middle ground in all these things, it seemed to reflect and inspire nothing.

    Have you ever been to a park, BBQ, child’s birthday or fancy-dress party and witnessed someone dressed up as a Gold Coast Titan, running around in a metal suit and face mask?

    The whole image – the boutique stadium, the Titanium Bar, the silky-smooth aesthetics – gave off an unmistakably synthetic feel from the start that was difficult to connect with.

    Which, some wags might be quick to add, perfectly encapsulates the Gold Coast.

    That’s where the real shame in this can be found.

    Go to a game at a local club like the Southport Tigers, or the Burleigh Bears, the Tweed Heads Seagulls or Tugun Seahawks and you quickly forget the idea that interest in footy is only skin-deep on the coast.

    The passion from the stands and on the field is spine-tingling.

    This is footy that is gritty, meaningful, heated, built on history and reflective of a community underbelly that rarely gets publicity.

    Attending a Gold Coast Rugby League grand final is a euphoric, gripping experience, with a heady mix between good-natured banter and expectation for success hanging thick in the air.

    I doubt any of these clubs sought input from marketing whizzes when they settled on the colours, names and emblems which are now synonymous with the neighbourhoods they represent.

    Instead, their uniforms look like a mix between butchers, prisoners and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

    Beefa, the Burleigh mascot, looks like an ’80s relic from a similar genus as Humphrey B Bear, but he is arguably more iconic and lovable than the Titans mascot will ever be.

    Sure, there is a scarcity of bears in Burleigh (save aside from Grindr), and even fewer tigers in Southport (far more cougars there), but what they embody is the sacrifice and hardship endured by those who built their clubs and communities over decades.

    Even at the lower levels, you immediately gain an appreciation – if not an affinity – for what it means to be a member of the Tamborine Bushrats, the Ormeau Shearers or the Mudgeeraba Redbacks.

    Part of me thinks that footy clubs are meant to be garish, no matter the code. I doubt there are many interior decorators or fashion designers out there recommending colour schemes based on Balmain or Hawthorn or West Ham.

    But they work, and they endure, even in cases where the team itself has seen better days.

    Rugby league – and most sport for that matter – is not pretty. Indeed, the essence of its appeal is the very opposite.

    It’s about sportspeople doing things we would not, cannot. They are perspiring, bleeding, crying in a public arena in a way our sheltered, sterilised lives have become unaccustomed to.

    We want that connection; to be put in touch with a primordial spirit; to taste something genuine, raw and unfiltered.

    The entire Titans branding, all plastic and whitewash, misses that mark.

    Instead the only thing it captures accurately is 21st century NRL trying to be something it is not, turning away from the brutality and working-class ethos that is at the heart and soul of the game.

    It’s the meticulously curated Instagram account of an unhappy teen, beautiful but lacking any substance or sense of purpose. Sure, they might have a few likes, but are they someone others feel they could trust and form a lasting relationship with?

    The question here is do the Titans bite the bullet and decide to reinvent themselves, reflecting their true spirit and where they really come from?

    Or do they keep collecting likes over time and bargain on enough people sticking around that they’ll eventually come to be loved under the disguise they’ve chosen to adopt?

    Robert Burgin
    Robert Burgin

    Robert Burgin is a sports writer of 20 years with a particular appetite for Rugby League's exotic and bizarre tales. Find him on Twitter @RobBurginWriter.

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    The Crowd Says (78)

    • January 16th 2018 @ 6:30am
      PGNEWC said | January 16th 2018 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      Ahem — When Gold Coast Joined The NRL equivalent in ’88 they were the Giants colours Silver and Black, Then they became the Seagulls under the Wally Lewis era Red White and black then when they were privately owned they became the Gladiators colours purple and as sort of bluish green colour — mustn’t have been any good as the team folded — now they are the Titans blue and gold. – I somehow dont think “Rebranding “is their problem — I have heard that GC main problem is their fickle Fan Base

    • January 16th 2018 @ 6:48am
      Fraser said | January 16th 2018 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      “The colours were market-tested, designed to shift the maximum number of merchandise units, or as the common person might call them, jerseys.

      The name evolved from a confusing, cynical compromise intended to capitalise on existing intellectual property, embody past incarnations of Gold Coast franchises, and avoid a well-documented clash around the mooted ‘Dolphins’ emblem.”

      This doesn’t seem entirely true. From my memory of the process, after Redcliffe threatened legal action over the Dolphins moniker, the naming of the Gold Coast team was entirely community driven. SeaFM launched a naming contest which resulted in a shortlist and ultimately resulted in the Titans name winning the vote. Even the jersey was chosen by the community after an online poll. The blue and gold design was favoured as it evoked memories of the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast.

      I find this article disingenuous in suggesting that the Titans problem in attracting and keeping fans is somehow to do with the original Titans concept and everything else that came with it being driven by corporates and marketing, when the reality is it was community driven and chosen by the people of the Gold Coast.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 16th 2018 @ 9:37am
        Don said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        If the author was to have polled the average BRL fan in 1988 many would have said that they didn’t like the confected, soulless, plastic, Americanised team named the Brisbane Broncos. But the rusted on club fan wasn’t their initial target market.

        It has nothing to do with how the team came about.
        Ultimately the success of the Titans will come down to how they perform on the park, how they connect with the community and the profile of their key players.

        They need to become far more meaningful to firstly, the average club supporter from Ballina up to Ormeau. To date their connection to clubs in Northern Rivers up to North GC has been poor.
        The Titans should be seen as the ultimate and logical side for local kids to strive to play for. They need to actively support these regions and teams.

        They also need to be more aware of how continually signing second tier, disgruntled or unwanted Broncos players impacts on their brand. To date they have been the destination for Broncos cast offs and this needs to stop.

        Don’t forget the baggage that the club has also carried in its infancy.
        Searle’s folly and failure to fund the centre of excellence leaving massive debt and bad will among the corporate sector. It was reminiscent of the Gore, Skase, Ariadne days and happened while developers on the Coast were going bust and leaving contractors hanging.
        Financial bailouts by first, the Chairman then the NRL.
        A bunch of players being charged for illegal substance possession and use.
        Then the signing and failure of the Hayne plane.

        There is hope.
        But they have some serious remedial work to do to reconnect with fans and to be seen as more than the Broncos poorer cousins down the road.

        • Roar Guru

          January 16th 2018 @ 11:20am
          Nat said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Agree with 95% although GC scored some players Broncos would’ve loved to keep. Bennett released Ash Taylor early, not because he didn’t want him but it wasn’t right to hold him back. Wallace was one of Brisbane’s best forwards. Aside from JT13 and Gallen his stats are as good as any prop and that got him into a maroon jumper. Expect to hear the name Jai Arrow in years to come. Tough as nails and all the skills.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 3:00pm
          Larry1950 said | January 17th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          Yeah, not sure if the Broncos castoffs is an accurate description, a lot of these recent guys went to Palm Beach Currumbin High School & were drafted into the Broncos because of better recruitment. Maybe they’re now choosing to go home? As a bronco fan, I’d welcome Wallace & Taylor back in a heartbeat but you can’t keep them all under the cap unless your the roosters. Strategic signings such as loyalty to Alex Glenn probably cost the Broncos Jai Arrow but that’s life, one door closes & another opens.
          Have said before, give us James under Bennett & we win a premiership, now it’s up to Brennan to get the best out of who the Titans have.

      • January 16th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Oingo Boingo said | January 16th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Some Journalists appears to be more focused on creativity, rather than accuracy.

        • Roar Guru

          January 16th 2018 @ 11:10am
          Nat said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Agreed, but he has an intimate knowledge of the region which, I suspect, was a pretty good attempt at tongue-in-cheek humour at the finer points of GC league club culture.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 6:50am
      mushi said | January 16th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      So we’re saying the way to build a lasting connection with the community is to go with brand #5? They’ve already had four cracks at picking an emblem, colours etc what on god’s green earth gives the impression that this time will be some kind magical alignment of brand and community soul not yet ever experienced south of the Hyperdome.

      There’s also probably an argument that the Balmain, Hawks etal’s connection wasn’t because of the colours (I think the Hawks wanted different ones but their first choice was taken and their name wasn’t even the hawks – not an AFL guy but vague memory of that discussion) but because they had the luxury of organically becoming the community symbols over many many decades, rather than being forced to meet mass media requirements on day one.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 16th 2018 @ 6:55am
      Hard Yards said | January 16th 2018 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      My mate Spiv, who lives at Surfers Paradise, reckons that the problem with the Titans is that they’re not located on the Gold Coast. He says that GC residents don’t consider Robina to be on the Coast.

      • January 16th 2018 @ 7:42am
        WTFR96 said | January 16th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        You will probably find a lot of animosity from Gold Coast locals with the Titans comes from Michael Searle screwing over plenty of local contractors with the failed Centre of Excellence.

        I don’t think there needs to be any changes tho. They probably need a better and more consistent jersey, but if they continue to make strides like they have this off season, they should be able continue into being successful.

        • January 16th 2018 @ 11:09am
          PJ said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

          and also all the staff members that Searle screwed over with his late salary payments

      • January 16th 2018 @ 8:27am
        KingCowboy said | January 16th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        I really hope this is meant to be a joke.

        • Roar Guru

          January 16th 2018 @ 11:22am
          Nat said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

          Yeah, Robina is the geographical and economic centre of the GC.

      • January 16th 2018 @ 8:57am
        Greg Ambrose said | January 16th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        Everyone’s got a mate called Spiv on the Gold Coast.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 7:02am
      Paul Nicholls said | January 16th 2018 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      It’s better than Giants/Seagulls/Chargers. Is the Titans any worse than Broncos/Raiders/Storm? I think their colours are much better than the old ones. It would be even more plastic to change the name.

      • January 16th 2018 @ 7:30am
        PGNEWC said | January 16th 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        Thanks Paul forgot the Chargers thats 5 different names I agree stick with what you’ve got

    • January 16th 2018 @ 7:30am
      JohnnoMcJohnno said | January 16th 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Not again! You will never build anything if you keep chopping and changing. Give it time. In my experience the local school kids mostly support the Titans. They will grow up being Titans supporters. Change now and you are starting from ground zero – again.

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