ninjas in pyjamas rebrand with motto

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Rebranding the #1 esports team in the world.

Legendary esports organization Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP) worked with Motto to lead its 2021 global rebranding effort. After 20 years of existence, NIP’s rebrand is crucial to the company’s continued development and radical growth goals.

The rebranding of NIP was much more than a logo redesign. It was a 360° makeover that affected culture, operations, and of course visual identity. While the visual updates were a big part of Motto’s work, the logo was only one spoke in a larger wheel. More importantly, it was a rediscovery process, a shedding of old baggage. When Motto looked at the old brand, we knew it needed to change. Not just visually, but the spirit of the organization needed to be re-defined and brought forward into the branding.

➔ Leadership Workshops
➔ Brand Strategy
➔ Brand Motto
➔ Brand Story
➔ Brand Messaging
➔ Verbal Identity
➔ Visual Identity
➔ Merch

Case Study

— Ninjas in Pyjamas

Founded in 2000, Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP) is considered one of the most influential and legendary professional esports organizations in the world with a fanbase in the millions. It is most known for its history in the game of Counter-Strike where NIP’s first roster in CS:GO dominated in the game’s early stages. Today, NIP boasts world-class teams and players in the biggest titles in competitive gaming: CS:GO, Rainbow Six, VALORANT, and FIFA.

Motto led NIP’s 2021 global rebranding effort to support change management, drive ambitious growth goals, and inspire new fans. Motto’s rebrand made global headlines with the new visual identity and narrative-rich strategy. Called “One of the greatest rebrands in esports history,” the new NIP brand helped support groundbreaking growth including acquisitions, a partnership with Samsung, and so much more.

What We Did:

Leadership Workshops
Culture Analysis
Brand Strategy
Messaging
Verbal Identity
Visual Identity
Art Direction
Merch Design

Read the Press:

Forbes
ESports Observer
Dote Sports
NIP Global

Challenge

Rebrand the most recognized e-sports teams in history

As NIP approached its 20th anniversary, it reached an important milestone: the organization needed to reflect and redefine its future. NIP approached Motto with several ambitious goals including rebranding a historic identity that no longer served the brand (but still held sentimental value). The primary goal was to navigate a global team through arguably one of the most important and controversial rebrands in esports during a pandemic. Secondary goals included a need to build a consolidated and consistent image, deliver relevance, remain on-trend, achieve sustainability, differentiate, and most notably, champion the NIP brand as it regained its foothold after a series of organizational and perceptive challenges.

Vision

A vision to take over the e-sports industry

Our collective vision was to take NIP from a fragmented brand that had blind spots and was showing its age to a brand with a clear identity, voice, and renewed sense of self. We worked closely with the leadership team, across different countries, different time zones, people who had strong minds and different points of view, to align that diversity of thought around what NIP was and what it should become. And, we had to do this virtually and during a pandemic. The vision for this brand included a radical brand transformation that spanned leadership, culture, comms, audience, brand partnerships, and positioned NIP as the industry leader.

Strategy

Foundational brand building blocks

Motto began with three foundational branding blocks—Brand Insight / Brand Development / Brand Presence. Through Qualitative research, we uncovered trends in thought and opinions. This allowed Motto to uncover even deeper problems that existed and address those problems with more effective strategies. We studied legions of fans including social listening, tapping into the emotions, perceptions, and motivations of their core audience. We exhaustively explored the competitive landscape including teams within and outside e-sports to gather valuable information. These crucial insights led us to ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Through months of deep, global work, we arrived at a big idea around how to redefine the NIP positioning.

Idea Worth Ralling Around™

Expect the unexpected

“Expect the Unexpected” is our multi-dimensional and multi-directional rally cry — a key message that encapsulates the essence of the Ninja. It’s about having the energy and vision to be ready for anything — anytime, anywhere. It is both inspiring and humble, and a challenge we lay down to everyone in our clan.

The Name

Ninjas in Pyjamas

The way of the Ninja exists for survival. Ninjas endure very hard times — even ridicule and punishment — waiting for the right time to strike, wasting no energy or resources. Motto believed the mysterious Ninja theme was THE most powerful, untapped force in the business. However, until working with Motto, the brand had paid little attention to the Ninja theme. We believed no other team could come close to replicating the inherent value within the brand’s name. By amplifying the essence of the Ninja in all facets of the brand, we latched onto a theme to create transformational experiences, mesmerizing entertainment, and an aspirational identity that the fans could live into.

Visual Identity

“Nin” means to apply ego and heart to the edge of the sword

Modernizing the logo, Motto updated the Shuriken (a ninja weapon), with the old japanese word Nin, which is the beginning of Ninja and means to apply ego and heart to the edge of the sword. By replacing the original team colors (black/white/gold) with neon yellow, black and grey, (inspired by the Tokyo drifters to Norens) visually, the identity reinforces NIP as a futuristic, powerful and mysterious brand. Intricate details like this were instrumental in the fans’ embracing of the new look.

Verbal Identity

The mysterious persona of the Ninja

We refer to our brand voice as “Hattori,” named after the legendary 16th century ninja, Hattori Hanzo. With an air of mystery that exudes confidence and calm, Hattori entertains while he informs. He chooses his words carefully, and they’re always powerful and impactful. He takes his work seriously but knows that a little irreverence peppered with emojis keeps the fans charmed. Hattori is punchy and concise with quick-hit sentences, but also inspirational because he contributes opinions, lessons, and thoughts to conversations. His very essence encourages the audience to improve, excel, achieve, and transform from within. 

Results

Press in Forbes, E-Sports Insider, The Verge, Global partnerships and more

  • Partnered with Samsung, one of the largest brands in the world.
  • Partnered with Razer Inc. team on gaming peripherals, an integral part of an esports team’s success.
  • Won The Six Invitational, one of the biggest trophies in esports.
  • Completed arguably the most marquee transfer in CS:GO history Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz.
  • Built an academy set up and almost broke into the top 30 in the world within 3 months.
  • Co-founded the new WePlay Academy League, a first of its kind.
  • Rebranded the whole company, refocused, and rekindled people.
  • Welcomed new colleagues and players from all corners of the world.
  • Grew overall engagement by 50%.
  • All during COVID19. The ultimate test.

Work With Motto

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