The Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has been synonymous with misfortune, loss, and limited hope has had MLSE’s marketing department jumping through hoops in recent years to get fans excited. Being a Leafs fan isn’t easy. For those who aren’t as familiar with Hockey, Toronto has spent most of its time swimming around the bottom of the standings in the NHL for years. With their last playoff appearance being 3 years ago (a 5-4 overtime loss against the Boston Bruins in game 7 of round 1-heartbreaking might I add), the Toronto Maple Leafs, for once haven’t been the focus of sports in Toronto. With the Raptors and Blue Jays making consecutive playoff appearances in recent years, the Leafs have had to revamp a few things to get fans back filling seats. Marketing has played a large role in that. With a new logo, new players, and a new approach, MLSE is looking to get back into the hearts of their beloved following. Let’s dive in shall we?
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ logo has been pretty simplistic and consistent since they became a team in the early 1900’s. Blue Jersey, maple leaf in the middle. Pretty simple right? This year the club has revamped jerseys that while even though they possess the exact same elements as any jersey they’ve ever had, it can’t be ignored that these feel new. Rebranding a logo that has existed is a very challenging task. For any of you graphic designers out there, you probably know what I’m talking about here. The design team behind the rebranding of the jersey has brought a modern approach to a classic logo which in combination looks stunning. A+.
It’s the team’s centennial season. Not many other teams have existed as long as the Leafs, so this has been an important part in the team’s branding this year. On the opening night of their season at home, the Maple Leafs had honored past players by raising their banners in the arena and providing a ceremony that any Leafs’ fan-young or old- could engage in. I thought this was a great way to get all fans on the same page on where the team has been, but also where the team is going. One of the biggest challenges that this overhaul did was understanding the different demographics of the Toronto Maple Leafs. MLSE was faced with the challenge of understanding how they could engage new fans, the future generation of Maple Leafs fans, as well as the older fans-and they did just that.
For the first time in decades, the Toronto Maple Leafs were fortunate enough to draft the first overall pick in this offseason. While it’s no news that they selected top prospect Auston Matthews, this pick revamped the average fan’s interest in what’s been a dull team for a long time. In his first game, he scored 5 goals (that’s insane by the way). On top of that, the team has been building a solid core of coaching staff, and a strong management group. While any team can rebrand their logo, it’s obvious that it takes more than just that switch to get fans back into seats.
For the first time in a while, hope and excitement has been installed back into their fan base. The team overall has a long way to go before they can contend for the Stanley Cup, but fans can’t help to feel a sense of promise with the way this rebrand is going. MLSE has done their part. They’ve built their management group, they’ve drafted their superstar, and they’ve changed their logo. Now it’s time to see if the players can follow through on their end of the deal. With a start of 1-1-3, it’s obvious that they still have a little bit to go.
Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in Toronto and is looking forward to how he can leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.