Iconic Game, Iconic Name

[Cache – #120]

I was in Ottawa last weekend and was struck by something I didn’t see anyone wearing:  an Ottawa RedBlacks shirt.  Not a single one.  Even though the shirts were clearly available for sale at retail.

I lived in Ottawa in 1990 when the city was awarded the Senators hockey team – and in the days after, every second person was wearing a Senators shirt.  Granted, Ottawans care alot more about hockey than they do about football, but that no one has bothered to buy a RedBlacks shirt is truly stunning – and the name, which has created absolutely no excitement about the team and means almost nothing to the people of our capital city, is a significant contributing factor.

It is fair to recall that many people hated the Senators name when it was announced, because of its instant association with an institution mocked as ineffective, and its members as entitled and not of the highest competence.  But the hockey team did a masterful job of focusing on another side of the name’s meaning – its association with Roman warriors – to position the team not as a bunch of talkers and takers, but as disciplined, powerful and aggressive.

And now another brand naming story emanates from Ottawa:  the renaming of the Senators’ home, Scotiabank Place, to the Canadian Tire Centre.  Aside from the Palladium, which was the building’s original name, Canadian Tire Centre is the most appropriate to adorn the building – the other name being the Corel Centre.

While Corel and Scotiabank saw naming the venue as a tool of brand awareness, and Scotiabank in particular as aligned with its positioning as a supporter of community events, those two brands had very little to do with hockey or its culture.  Canadian Tire, on the other hand, is a national icon that happens to be strongly associated with sport and all things Canadian – and nothing is more Canadian, of course, than hockey.  So the fit in terms of brand is very snug.

The name itself, Canadian Tire Centre, takes the logical and standard approach of simply using the brand name as the venue name.  The only question – and it is a very significant one – is what abbreviation and nickname the public will use instead of saying the full, very long name.

canadian tire centre

As the Air Canada Centre became the ACC, the Ottawa arena will in all likelihood be abbreviated to CTC.  But the ACC is also sometimes called by its nickname, The Hangar, an aviation reference supported by the shape of the building.  This same possibility exists with the Canadian Tire Centre.

What nickname do you think will take hold?  Supported by the round shape of the CTC, my bet is on The Tire.


Brand: It Ain’t the Logo is now available at all TARGET stores in Canada.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

In case you missed it:  my short interview on CBC Radio One about IKEA’s horse meat problem.
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Also in case you missed it:  My BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).

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