Basketball New Zealand were launching their world-leading, equal-pay Women’s National Basketball League and they needed a name and brand identity that reflected this uplifting, aspirational pathway for female athletes. This also included brand identities for the five franchises that are competing for the league title.
Starting from the ground up, in partnership with cultural design specialists SixOneNine, we created an uplifting, aspirational, brand identity for the league and its five franchises. One that expressed the essence of basketball, an international sport, rooted in a modern Aotearoa. One that our elite athletes could wear with pride. That would inspire support across the nation. And that girls could identify with and feel they belonged to.
From our research with the leading lights of women’s basketball in Aotearoa – managers, coaches, youth development officers, Olympians, current professionals and up and coming stars in NZ and in the NCAA – We came to our core narrative for the league, centered on the concept of “soar”.
Working with BBNZ’s kaumatua, Dr Taku Parai (Ngāti Toa) we landed on a te reo expression “Tauihi” (to soar, to glide in the air). And rooted the origins of our league in the origins of Aotearoa by linking our narrative back to Kuramarotini, wife of Kupe the navigator who was first to lift her gaze to see the mass of white cloud signalling land and cry out “He ao! He aotea! He Aotearoa!”.
Following on from this, our league logo is a representation of a basketball swishing through the net. The top half shows the ball just before it disappears through the hoop. Below this, the net is made up of a simple taniko/tukutuku triangle pattern – a combination of Niho Taniwha and Aronui designs. These symbolise determination, tenacity, striving for excellence, and the pursuit of knowledge. Look closely and you can see an arrow design within the taniko pattern, which symbolises our name Tauihi...to soar.
In collaboration with franchise tikanga Māori partners, we developed team names and logos that combined our masterbrand narrative with their own regional identities. This led to all five teams having te reo Māori monikers – a national first for a sporting competition.
Partnering with local artist Stevei Houkamau, we extended the story of the league right through into the trophy development. Carved and fired in black clay, the disc represents Tauihi and all the attributes it holds at its core, the carvings represent elements of each team's logo and also incorporate elements that are held dear by tangata whenua. This disc demonstrates the mauri of Tauihi in a visual language.