Have you ever wondered why the name Crusaders? Why not the Cardinals, the Crimsons or the Conquerors?

Crusaders Jersey Logo 2010When the first year of Super 12 kicked off in 1996, the Crusaders title was chosen for the side representing the provincial unions from the top half of the South Island - Nelson, Marlborough, Buller, West Coast, Canterbury, Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury.

Among others in the mix of potential names were the Plainsmen but the powers that be at the time chose Crusaders based on the English nature of the city of Christchurch.

They believed the name Crusaders not only connected with Christchurch's British heritage but it defined the crusading spirit of Canterbury rugby.

And it had huge marketing potential. Those involved in developing the concept could never have imagined how successful the Crusaders brand would become.

From the spine-tingling atmosphere when the Crusaders horsemen enter AMI Stadium to the theme song "Conquest of Paradise" (by recording artist Vangelis), to the flames on the Crusaders castle - the Crusaders have been a huge marketing success.

Watching the Crusaders at AMI Stadium has become the biggest show in town with the additional live entertainment around the Crusaders brand making a visit to AMI Stadium a must for all rugby fans.

So how did the Crusaders concept evolve from its first inception?

The logo featuring the knightsman and the sword was developed by graphic design company Clark & Associates.

Then to the all-important music. Many tunes were considered but it was John Foley, who was working for one of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union's longest serving sponsors DB Draught, who put forward the idea of using the "Conquest of Paradise" music.

And it's now commonly recognised as the anthem of Canterbury. You'll frequently hear it on the radio and as a ringtone on mobile phones. But the spine-tingling atmosphere it creates as the Crusaders horsemen enter AMI Stadium is undeniable. No other franchise has anything like it.

Over the years the Crusaders brand has evolved from just the Crusaders horsemen and the music to the advent of the castle and more recently the addition of the Crusaders sword as an imposing centre-piece on the field. All these pieces of the Crusaders jigsaw have made the Crusaders concept widely recognised and so intimidating for visiting teams.

So that's the journey of the Crusaders from its inception in 1996 to today.

Clark & Associates did the logos for all five New Zealand Super 12 franchises.