Swedish esports organisation Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) has unveiled a new visual identity for the team as part of an official rebranding.
According to a press release, the rebranding was ‘crucial to the company’s continued development and purpose,’ which includes the creation of experiences which entertain, inspire, and connect fans across the world.
The brand update introduces a new colourway, forgoing the team’s signature black, gold, and brown palette for a brighter, neon look. The shuriken emblem has additionally been revamped to take on a more modernised look. Together, the alterations are said to reflect inspiration from ancient Japanese traditional art and symbolise ‘a futuristic, powerful, and mysterious brand.’
NiP’s revitalised look is unveiled alongside many other prominent teams and leagues which have opted to rebrand themselves in the last several months, including Rogue, LCK, Panda Global, Dignitas, and more. For the Swedish organisation, however, the touch-up is said to have been in the works for more than a year, tapping into several agencies to ensure the brand experience is delivered ‘to its utmost potential.’
Esports Insider sat down with Ninjas in Pyjamas’ Chief Executive Officer Hicham Chahine to discuss the rebranding in greater detail. Below is an edited transcript of our interview.
Esports Insider: Ninjas in Pyjamas has been around for over 20 years, and its brand is linked to a collection of timeless moments in esports – why did you feel this rebrand was something you needed?
Hicham Chahine: We have been around for two decades and have grown organically over time; there was no brand focus up until a few years ago. The iconic logo, which today is widely known and recognised, was created at a time where esports was different from today and a brand overhaul is overdue eight years after the initial launch.
The brand was originally created around a funky name, but with no brand story, no brand strategy, no brand archetype which resulted in it stagnating as esports grew. In addition, our business has grown from being solely a competitive esports team, into a media and production company. When we started the rebranding process one and a half years ago, we revisited it with a large focus on the name Ninjas in Pyjamas and how we could take inspiration and amplify what is unique to us.
ESI: Esports is far different than it was 20 years ago — has the development of the industry and its landscape influenced the direction or decision for the rebrand in any way, and if so how?
HC: Esports is indeed different from what it was 20 years ago. However, what influenced the most in our process was the 20 years of NIP history. We approached the process extremely cautiously as we had to respect 20 years of NIP history and the emotional connection our fans, community and partners have to the brand. The process was centred around alignment and amplification of the name, building on what has been created over 20 years, setting us up for the next 20 years.
“Today we are not only a competitive esports CS:GO team, but a significantly larger organisation competing in a wide variety of esports titles catering to different communities. We have transitioned into an esports, media and production company and it was important our brand would be able to carry that transformation into the future.
ESI: The new colourway is a far cry from the organisation’s iconic colour palette, what else can you share on the motivation behind opting for a brighter, neon look?
HC: The name Ninjas in Pyjamas was something we wanted to explore and dig into, it is unique to us and something only we can own. Ninjas originated in Japan so it was natural for us to draw a lot of inspiration from the Japanese culture digging into the original ninjas and their culture.
The inspiration found in the brand strategy has that clear line of inspiration merged with our Swedish heritage going into the visual identity; Neon is inspired by the beautiful neon lights of Tokyo, the primary colour neon yellow and neon blue is inspired by Sweden. It is a true Japanese-Swedish fusion with a digital touch.
ESI: There has been an influx of rebranding efforts from prominent organisations across the industry throughout the last several months — why reveal Ninjas in Pyjamas’ updated look now while the landscape is so crowded?
HC: The rebranding process has been long overdue and something we have been working on for a long time. The process overall is created for the long-term so the launch date for us was never important, thus a crowded rebranding period is not something we thought about avoiding.
What was important is that we revealed the re-invented brand when we felt we had done our best to deliver an epic brand experience to our fans, players, communities and partners. The brand upgrade was overdue, and we are building for the next 20 years, and we are finally feeling confident in the direction we are taking and are excited to share it with the world and build on it for many years to come.
ESI: How has the Ninjas in Pyjamas brand — what it means, stands for, and general philosophy to competition and being a fan of the organisation — changed in the last 20 years, and how do you see it evolving from this point on with this revitalised look?
HC: The early days of Ninjas in Pyjamas was connected to one word: domination. Over the last four years we have rebuilt the organisation from scratch under new ownership and management. We saw a decline in esports performance and the esports ecosystem today is very different to what it was back in 2015. As we rebuilt the organisation and started scaling, esports performance and brand have been our two key focus areas. It is where we have invested the most in everything from recruitment, facilities and infrastructure to brand, content creation, production and platform.
The industry has changed and our business has changed with it. What has not changed around here is the uncontested desire to win and create epic brand experiences to a wide audience all around the world.
Esports Insider says: It may be a tough time to get excited about a team taking on a new visual identity, given how many rebrands have occurred in recent months. However, Ninjas in Pyjamas’ is one we can most certainly back. While somewhat of a far cry from the signature look and feel of its original branding, the new logotype is a reflection of the current industry style with a more sharp, digital, and modern appearance.