Although the team has gained immense popularity due to its association with celebrity owners, it was surrounded with controversy and poor on-field performance through the first three years of the tournament. The team's performance, however, improved from the fourth season as it qualified for the IPL playoffs as well as the now defunct Champions League Twenty20. They eventually became the IPL champions for the first time in 2012, by defeating Chennai Super Kings in the final and repeated the feat in 2014, defeating Kings XI Punjab. The Knight Riders hold the record for the longest winning streak by any Indian team in T20s (14).
The leading run-scorer of the side is Gautam Gambhir, while the leading wicket-taker is Sunil Narine. The official theme of the team is Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re (we will act, fight and win!) and the official colours are purple and gold. The brand value of the Knight Riders was estimated at $86 million in 2015, the highest valuation amongst all eight teams by a margin.
Initially, when Kolkata Knight Riders were first introduced in 2008, the logo of the team consisted of a blazing golden Viking helmet against a black background with the name of the team written in gold next to it. However, the black background was changed to purple in the third season. It was in 2012 that the current logo, which has a blazing purple Corinthian helmet trimmed with gold, with Kolkata Knight Riders written within a shield was introduced.
The tagline of the team was "All the King's Men" during the first four seasons. However, in the fifth it was replaced by "New Dawn, New Knights". The team's official colours were black and gold during the first two seasons. At the time, Khan said that "golden symbolizes spirit of life and black presents the Goddess Kali." It was later changed to purple and gold during the third season and was kept so. The jersey was created by Bollywood fashion designer Manish Malhotra.
The main theme of the team Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re (we will act, fight and win!) was scored by Vishal-Shekhar duo. A Knight Riders album featuring several singers and music composers including Usha Uthup and Bappi Lahiri was also created.
The home venue of the Knight Riders is the iconic Eden Gardens (with the two ends of the crease called the High Court End and the Pavilion End). Owned by the Cricket Association of Bengal, it is the largest cricket stadium in India and had a seating capacity of over 90,000. In 2011, the stadium was renovated to meet the standards set by the ICC for the 2011 Cricket World Cup; reducing its capacity to around 68,000. The renovated stadium includes a new clubhouse and players' facilities, upgrading the exterior wall, cladding the existing roof structure with a new metal skin, and general infrastructure improvements. In 2013, two of the team's home matches were hosted by the JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi.
At the 2009 auction the team bought Bangladeshi all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza. Due to the unavailability of Pakistani players starting 2009, KKR had to suspend the contract of Umar Gul, who was a key performer from the 2008 season. On 26 April 2009, KKR administration sent back two of its players Akash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar on the premises of poor performance.Shane Bond was acquired after releasing Ricky Ponting, Morne van Wyk and the Pakistani players Umar Gul, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Akhtar before the third season. Moises Henriques was traded to Delhi in return for Owais Shah and Manoj Tiwary. Thus, their overseas roster for the 2010 season consisted of Shane Bond, Mashrafe Mortaza, Brendon McCullum, Charl Langeveldt, Ajantha Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Owais Shah and Chris Gayle.
Before the February 2014 auction, the team had only retained their key performers Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine. From the auctions that took place, the team brought back Jacques Kallis and Yusuf Pathan with their right-to-match (RTM) card. Also keeping their place in the squad was Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hasan. New international players were Morne Morkel, Patrick Cummins and Chris Lynn. Prominent Indian players bought included Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav and Piyush Chawla.
KKR's impressive additions in the 2015 auction were veteran Australian bowler Brad Hogg and wicket-keeper Sheldon Jackson. Before the auction in February 2016, they released Ryan ten Doeschate who was a part of their team for five consecutive seasons along with pace bowler Pat Cummins. The Knight Riders were particularly noted for their change in approach from the previous auctions where they had concentrated on spinners. For the 2016 edition, however, they acquired as many as six pacers in the form of all-rounders John Hastings, Colin Munro, Jason Holder and Rajagopal Sathish as well as bowlers Ankit Rajpoot and Jaydev Unadkat, with the latter being a former player of the squad. They signed one spinner in Manan Sharma. Before the 2017 auctions, they released nine players in total including six out of their ten overseas players from previous season. The players released from the squad were Morne Morkel, Brad Hogg, Jason Holder, Colin Munro, John Hastings, Jaydev Unadkat, Rajagopal Sathish, Manan Sharma and replacement signing Shaun Tait.
The Knight Riders qualified for the Champions League Twenty20 in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The latter was the last edition of the tournament before it being permanently called off. The team was eliminated in the group stage in 2011 and 2012, but finished as runners-up in the ultimate season.