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Toronto Football Club Branding

Toronto Football Club

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For anyone living outside of North America, football is as much the fabric of everyday life as death and taxes. But while it enjoys a long history of success globally, repeated attempts to bring “the world’s game” to North America had been unsuccessful.

In early 2006, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced their intention to bring a soccer franchise to Toronto. Later that year, we were asked to develop the team’s name, logo, positioning, identity system, a brand sell line and brand standards and to apply it across advertising materials (print, transit, radio, out-of-home), sales materials (website, season’s tickets package) event and promotional collateral and merchandise.

We conducted exhaustive research on the category and the consumer to understand how to best position a Toronto team and realized that unlike other cities in North America, bringing a franchise to Toronto posed a unique challenge as a result of the unusual fan base that exists.

Toronto soccer fans are one of the most ethnically diverse group of fans anywhere in the world, each bringing cultural predispositions to the game. Toronto fans also bring with them long-standing loyalty and allegiance to other teams, passed on to them from their parents and grandparents. The Toronto fan base is an incredibly informed one, with strong radar for anything presented to them that isn’t presented authentically.

It became clear that efforts would need to be both authentic and inclusive in their approach and as a result, we determined that we would appeal to this group’s universal love of the sport as a way to sell the Toronto team.

The first element that fell out of this approach was the “All for One” brand positioning and tagline, which acted as a rallying cry to set aside differences and unite in a collective love of soccer. “All for One” directed all areas of the launch – print, radio and transit advertising, website and event, season tickets and other collateral.

In season one, ticket sales exceeded projections by 25% with an average at home attendance reaching over 20,000 fans and demand for Toronto FC merchandise 3 times greater than anticipated. Additionally, Toronto FC won Strategy Magazine’s “Brand of the Year”.

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