[Cache - #149]
It is a myth that Canadians like winter. A country that likes winter would not seek to escape it at every possible opportunity, as Canucks are doing on the busiest travel day of the year, today, by swarming our airports and border crossings in the hundreds of thousands.
For Canadians, leaving Canada is as Canadian as it gets.
As a proud holder of the Canadian passport, it was therefore my patriotic duty to report at Pearson International Airport two weeks ago, beating the rush and flying to Phoenix, Arizona.
The first thing one notices about Phoenix is that it shines. Not just the sun, which shines almost always, but also the cars and buildings. And the streets, being free of sludge in comparison to my home of Toronto, although in its defence, Toronto must wait for Fall to get rid of Rob Ford.
A second thing very much on the mind in Phoenix was their NHL hockey team, the Coyotes, just saved by a new ownership group that I am proud to say includes a family connection. So it was an honour to attend a game last week against the St. Louis Blues. Doing my best to keep my family bias aside, I was still genuinely impressed by the job the Coyotes have done on branding.
It all revolves around and leverages a name rich with meaning in the Arizona desert, Coyotes. The concepts conjured up by this name have been leveraged into a fun and exciting fan experience that forges a strong bond between the team and their fans (who have, as they must continue to do, grown in number since the new ownership). For example, in addition to cheering the old fashioned way, Coyotes fans howl, which I must admit is alot of fun to do with 15,000 other people.
The concepts of howling and the coyote are iterated everywhere not just in the Coyotes’ official marketing (the Den apparel store, a Happy “Howl-O-Ween” video from the team captain, the Paw Patrol cheerleading team, and the kids’ fan club, Howler’s Heroes, are but four examples) but are also perpetuated by fans – as in the fan blog Five For Howling, for example.
Compare the leverage you get from a great name like Coyotes with that bestowed by a meaningless name like TFC. As in Toronto FC (Football Club), the name of Toronto’s Major League Soccer Franchise. Visit their website and try to find any marketing program that leverages the team name in a way that expresses the team’s values.
The Coyotes’ name gives rise to unique ways of supporting the team that perpetuate brand values: ferocity, tenacity, pack mentality, hunger to win. As in this seasons’ slogan, Hungrier than Ever, an acknowledgement that having been given a rebirth, the team must work harder than ever to win games, fan support and corporate support to survive.
The TFC name, being purely descriptive, raises no ideas whatsoever in the mind and is very difficult to work with in ways that express brand values and create bonds with fans. You might as well call them Team X. (I thought I was just kidding there, but that might actually be an improvement, as teams like the X-Men will tell you)
So what advice do I have for my Uncle Bill Dutton, a man almost twice my age and with ten times my experience? Steam Whistle would be nice in the owner’s box.