Case Study

Overview

Partner: Sport Manitoba

Our Role: Brand campaign and experience

With new revenue-generating services, Sport Manitoba was looking to build value and attract people to their new facility, the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre located in downtown Winnipeg. Due to many competing brand names, messages and priorities within Sport Manitoba, it was challenging for the organization to connect with Manitobans in a meaningful way.

We worked with Sport Manitoba in 2018 to develop a brand that would build the foundation for their marketing environment and future growth by building their relationship with their audience. Our work included a brand strategy, visual identity system and website that ultimately worked to close the gap between the non-profit and their provincial audience.

The Problem

Sport Manitoba was looking to promote its new services and facility. Over the years, this organization established itself as the leader of amateur sports in Manitoba through its connection with over 60 partner organizations, but Sport Manitoba itself never directly connected with Manitobans. This created a gap between Sport Manitoba and sports happening across the Province of Manitoba. And, this gap was widening. 

The Sport Manitoba brand would need to build a meaningful connection with Manitobans while also better advocating for their own  organization and its services.

Sport Manitoba

Sport Manitoba is a non-profit organization that leads the planning, programming and funding for the development of amateur sport in the Province of Manitoba. The primary focus of Sport Manitoba is to develop athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers.

Analysis

To get to the bottom of why there was a gap between Sport Manitoba and their audiences, we interviewed internal stakeholders, consumers and the general public.

Understanding what the community values

Insight #1: Active living is important to people

Forty percent of people ranked sport and active living important to the health and prosperity of Manitoba as nine or higher out of ten (ten symbolizing very important). This showed that a large percentage of Manitobans were aligned with Sport Manitoba’s mandate and that they also. valued sport and active living. This understanding confirmed that Sport Manitoba could be transformed into a purpose-driven champion of amateur sport and active living in Manitoba because their audience shared the same goal.

How important do you think sport and active living to the overall health and prosperity to the Province of Manitoba?

223 respondents (Reference: Google consumer survey conducted by Brandish)

 

Build brand recognition

Insight #2: Public perception and awareness was low

Sixty percent of people said they didn’t know what Sport Manitoba does or what the organization even offered to Manitobans and only eight percent of the people we surveyed said they knew about Sport Manitoba and what they did. This signaled that Sport Manitoba was not effectively communicating to their audience and when they did, it wasn’t working.

Do you know what kinds of things Sport Manitoba does and the services they offer?

284 respondents (Reference: Google consumer survey conducted by Brandish)

 

New initiatives weren’t actively being communicated to Manitobans

With the opening of the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre, Sport Manitoba was looking to expand their presence through a physical space. Unfortunately, Manitobans didn’t recognize the centre or its connection to Sport Manitoba. The public couldn’t identify where the centre was located despite Sport Manitoba’s efforts to publicize the opening of this new space. Although it was a crowning achievement and ushered in the next era of the organization, the public didn’t share the same sentiment.

 

Do you know where the Canada Sport for Life Centre is located and what they do there?

242 respondents (Reference: Google consumer survey conducted by Brandish)

 

Create the opportunity to build a clear perception

Insight #3: Visibility is the first stage to understanding

Visuals make an impact. It’s the first stage to understanding what an organization does. The name Canada Games Sport for Life, Qualico Training Centre didn’t tie the new facility with Sport Manitoba. It also didn’t clearly communicate what patrons could do there or if the general public was even welcome there. Although Sport Manitoba had obligations to sponsors and therefore could not change the name, Sport Manitoba still needed to find ways to cultivate a clear perception about what the centre offered, who the centre was for and that it was Sport Manitoba’s. 

Creating this brand experience and perception extended beyond just the physical centre. Sport Manitoba needed to cultivate a brand experience through all of their communication touchpoints including expanding their brand into their physical space, the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre.

Brand is bigger than a logo

Insight #4: A brand must be knowable and tangible

We can’t rely on a logo to build brand equity or define what the organization does for people. Our data showed that Manitobans had wide-ranging questions about what Sport Manitoba did and what the centre offered. This pinpointed that no one knew or could anticipate the experience Sport Manitoba was offering.

“Is the Sports Medicine Clinic for Sport MB athletes only?”- Interview subject #3
“What’s the difference between the performance centre and the fitness centre?”- Interview subject #1
“Is the Qualico Training Centre the gym?”- Interview subject #2
“Is the Sports Medicine Clinic for Sport MB athletes only?”- Interview subject #3
“What’s the difference between the performance centre and the fitness centre?”- Interview subject #1

 

Audience Insights:

Understand who’s shaping your perception

Insight #1: Staff are ambassadors for the Sport Manitoba

How the Sport Manitoba internal team speaks about their organization to family, friends, clients and indirect audience impacts both internal and public perception of the brand and its mandate. There was brand fragmentation and Sport Manitoba’s individual departments didn’t align with another and did not align or contribute to the overall larger organizational mandate.

Determine what your audience values

Insight #2: Manitobans were in favour of Sport Manitoba’s mandate (even if they didn’t know the organization)

Through our surveys and interview, we saw that Manitobans cared about Sport Manitoba’s mandate and thought that initiatives to achieve this mandate were important.


Here’s what we heard:

  • “People who know Sport Manitoba, trust it.”
  • “Sport Manitoba’s brand impacts tens of thousands of Manitobans, even if they don’t know it.”
  • “Canada Games Sport for Life Centre building has the potential to be an essential part of Downtown Winnipeg’s community.”

The problem was that Manitobans and even Sport Manitoba’s internal team couldn’t clearly identify the good work Sport Manitoba was doing in the province to encourage, support and champion amateur sport. Everyone was confused about the organization’s overall focus and direction.

Here’s what we heard:

  • “We’re confused about brand hierarchy, and don’t know what to call ourselves.”
  • “Every department has a different mandate.”
  • “People get lost when they come see us.”
  • “Public Perception for Sport Manitoba is low.” 

From these insights, we determined the organization was hidden behind layers making it nearly invisible. There was a gap in communication that was separating Sport Manitoba from its audience and from the organizations that Sport Manitoba supported and oversaw.

On the plus side, there was a compelling and bold brand story waiting to be told. Our strategy work started by clearly identifying the challenge facing Sport Manitoba.

Opportunities

To position Sport Manitoba as the leader of sport and active living in Manitoba and build recognition and connection with Manitobans.

To do this, our strategy needed to:

To build a cohesive messaging for the brand, we needed a theme. Sport Manitoba’s best marketing strategy was to own the “Manitoba sport experience” and the way to do this was through brand.

Develop an intuitive brand architecture for Sport Manitoba and its properties to ensure it was meaningful to their audiences

Sport Manitoba is a large organization with a complex network of relationships. Simplification is desirable when it makes sense, however, simplification alone wouldn’t lead to greater understanding of how Sport Manitoba operates. We needed to develop an architecture system that both simplified and scaled in order to address both existing and future needs. This meant addressing naming and sponsor obstacles.

The Sport for Life, Qualico Training Centre & Sport Manitoba

It was clear that the current facility and structure naming has created both perceptual and organizational obstacles. Internal stakeholders are unsure of how to refer to themselves and external stakeholders struggle to orientate and understand the complexity of overlapping functions.

Create a visual identity and brand messaging systems that express relevance and vitality to support the changing mandate of Sport Manitoba

With an expanding mandate and a prescient need to bring cohesion to a fragmented organization, it was important that Sport Manitoba use visual communication to its fullest advantage to support its strategic goals. 

A visual identity system would help create a consistent brand experience across the organization and help communicate its size, scale and reach. A properly executed identity will act as a signal across stakeholder groups by clarifying  distinct but connected entities.  

Create an understanding at an organizational level

Before going to market with the new brand or investing in any major awareness initiatives, we need to ensure all Sport Manitoba stakeholders understand the brand and are dedicated to living it. Any brand activation needs to start with the people charged with creating a consistent brand experience: your stakeholders.

Starting at the highest level of the organization, knowledge of the brand should be implemented in phases to ensure that each management level is fully engaged before moving on to the next level in the organization.

Stakeholders should be given the tools to communicate the brand to other stakeholders as well as people and partners outside the organization. This is where brand guidelines and training are effective.

Exploit every opportunity for visibility

In the absence of strong brand awareness, it’s critical that Sport Manitoba leverages all opportunities to increase brand visibility through Manitoba.

Recognition alone increases the number of opportunities external audiences have to build a relationship with Sport Manitoba and see them as the leaders of Sport within the province. These opportunities include, but aren’t limited to: campaigning, signage, sponsorship and infrastructure way-finding.

Direction

Building an identifiable experience

To build a cohesive messaging for the brand, we needed a theme. Sport Manitoba’s best marketing strategy was to own the “Manitoba sport experience” and the way to do this was through brand.

Developing a theme

But first, our brand needed a theme. To get to a theme, we needed to understand sport’s essential value.

Sport is:

  • A call to adventure
  • It’s taking on a challenge
  • It’s transformation
  • It’s growth with helpers
  • It’s growth with mentors
  • It’s a journey

 

The Sport Hero’s Journey

Reference: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey

 

 

Brand theme: The Hero’s Journey

Why?

  • Simple enough to be interpreted and adopted across the entire organization
  • It’s an empowering message to inspire individual and group action
  • It coalesces the value of Sport Manitoba to individuals and the community
  • Provides vast opportunity for brand expression
  • It distills the positive essence of sport in a way that can be experienced by everyone

Speaks to the heroic potential in every individual as they:

 

Brand Attributes:

This is how we derive the themes to build Sport Manitoba’s brand experience.

Hero’s Journey

Speaks to the heroic potential in every individual as they:

 

Evaluating the organization’s definition:

The previous vision: Sport Manitoba envisions creating the best sport community through initiative and leadership and by establishing a highly supportive environment that will enhance the abilities of all Manitobans in their pursuit of excellence and in their joy of effort in amateur sport. Our analysis: This is wordy and hard to grasp and lacks punch. We need to state exactly what we want in simple terms so people can easily understand our purpose. The previous mission: An athlete-centered Sport Manitoba leads and supports sport for life through access, participation, and achievement in sport by all Manitobans. Our analysis: This is more of a statement than a description of specific action. A mission should tell us what will actually be done repeatedly in order to manifest the vision.
The new vision: For every Manitoban to play and be active with the opportunity to compete at the highest level of their ability so they can become the hero of their own journey. The new mission: full athletic potential.
The previous vision: Sport Manitoba envisions creating the best sport community through initiative and leadership and by establishing a highly supportive environment that will enhance the abilities of all Manitobans in their pursuit of excellence and in their joy of effort in amateur sport. Our analysis: This is wordy and hard to grasp and lacks punch. We need to state exactly what we want in simple terms so people can easily understand our purpose. The previous mission: An athlete-centered Sport Manitoba leads and supports sport for life through access, participation, and achievement in sport by all Manitobans. Our analysis: This is more of a statement than a description of specific action. A mission should tell us what will actually be done repeatedly in order to manifest the vision.
The new vision: For every Manitoban to play and be active with the opportunity to compete at the highest level of their ability so they can become the hero of their own journey. The new mission: full athletic potential.
Create a positioning statement:
Create a positioning statement:

 

 

Brand Identity

Before we could make recommendations for a new logo or refinements, we analyzed the current logo.

Logomark analysis:

We broke down the colour and colour associations. The Sport Manitoba blue and red are not typically associated with health in consumerism and pop culture.

Sport Manitoba had been relying on its logo to do all of its brand work and logos alone are not enough to create brand equity.

 

Creating a visual identity system:

Part of creating a dynamic and recognizable brand experience is visually communicating this experience. A bold and eye-catching visual identity system would start to shape the audiences’ expectations.

Colour: Gold

Gold is bold and has a rich history to build off. From ancient Greece, gold is associated with winning, champions in combination with metaphorical and literal richness. Gold is also historically interconnected with sport. When you win, you win gold. It’s also tangibly tied to and emblematic of the Province of Manitoba —golden wheat fields and the famous Golden Boy statue. These colour associations would interconnect the Sport Manitoba brand to history, victory, tradition and geographic locations both provincially and internationally.  

Movement:

One thing that all sports have in common is movement. There is always a direction an athlete is moving in. This affects the physical state but also the emotional state. It can be seen as the drive within an athlete to perform. It can also be seen as the persistence to achieve a goal (literally and metaphorically). Athletes, after the whistle blows, are in constant motion and moving in a specific direction.

Sport is direction and movement.

An arrow is a simple way to communicate movement. But this shape is limiting. In its simplest form, the arrow is essentially a triangle.

The triangle:

Triangles have three sides and three points. The number three has been tied to many visual communications representing growth, energy, expansion, skill, encouragement, and the universal symbol for play.  

We want people to play sports, and we want them to know that Sport Manitoba is making that possible for them.

Putting it all together:

Graphic elements live on a Z axis. They have the ability to overlap and/or bump into each other. When they interact with an image this helps to add depth. On their own, it creates a mosaic of colour.

The triangles were chosen as a graphic element to represent the fast and focused movement of sport. Triangles can also be seen as arrows. Which represent direction, motive, movement, purpose, precision, flow and an invitation to play.

 

Colour Palette:When the triangles are paired with a photo or video, the shape of them emphasizes the shape of the athlete they are paired with. When the athlete is in action, the triangles are racing to keep up with them. This frames the action by highlighting motion and movement which is fundamental to sport and performance.

 

Brand Architecture Design:

We focused on simplifying Sport Manitoba’s brand architecture by providing a roadmap for how visual elements apply to the organization’s offerings and sub-brands. It was important that we draw a visual connection between Sport Manitoba and their sub-brands to reduce brand fragmentation and connect Sport Manitoba to those specific audiences.

Tier 1: Sub-brands

Sport Manitoba Divisions

The Fitness Centre, Medical Clinic, Performance and Coaching are departments within Sport Manitoba who work alongside each other to fulfill the larger brand mandate — to position Sport Manitoba as the leader in sport and athletic excellence while supporting lifelong activity. 

All working together, this structure communicates the relevancy and strength of the Sport Manitoba brand to Manitobans. When audiences visit Sport Manitoba, they will experience a consistency across departments. The connection is clear and the message is strong.  

Tier 2: Endorsements

Sport Manitoba Sponsors

Based on a number of factors including financial investment, equity, recent brand refinement and legacy awareness, it makes sense organizationally for Tier Two Brands to use the Sport Manitoba identity as an affiliation mark. 

This alliance tactic informs audiences of the brand connection without losing the significance of the sub-brand’s equity. Tier Two Brands are initiatives directed by Sport Manitoba but maintain a degree of autonomy.

Tier 3: Stand-alone

Independent Initiatives

As a national initiative, the KidSport brand has strong equity amongst most Canadians. While event and wayfinding opportunities allow for co-sponsored visibility material, the brand is stronger standing alone.

Brand Roll-out

We mapped out our approach into three phases.

Phase 1: Create clear understanding

  • Brand Architecture 
  • Brand Strategy 
  • Brand Platform 
  • Messaging Hierarchy
  • Brand Identity

Our brand strategy and visual identity system completed Phase 1. Now, we needed to roll-out the brand strategy and new visual identity by educating Sport Manitoba’s ambassadors, their internal stakeholders and staff team.

Phase 2: Reinforce the foundation

  • Internal Brand Training 
  • Finalize Brand Guidelines  
  • Create Guidelines for Naming Usage 
  • Re-conceptualize the Sport Manitoba Website
  • Redesign Core Assets

Our brand strategy and identity work created a roadmap for how to deliver clear messaging to Sport Manitoba’s audience. Now, internal stakeholders and partners needed to adopt the new brand in order to drive awareness and connect with Sport Manitoba’s desired audiences. Our approach started by hosting multiple sessions across the organizations to develop messaging structures, identify gaps based on internal stakeholders experiences and then address how the brand could fill in these gaps and create shared understanding.

Re-conceptualize the Sport Manitoba Website & Asset 

The website became the foundational marketing tool for Sport Manitoba’s sub-brands. After launch, the website has driven engagement and growth across key revenue generating initiatives like the medical clinic, fitness centre, and performance training programs.

Phase 3: Grow and maintain visibility

  • Brand Campaign 
  • Awareness Initiatives
  • Marketing

To drive visibility and extend the brands reach, we created templates to be used by sub-brands and partner organizations. This was a grassroots initiative for Sport Manitoba that leveraged our identity and linked their brand to the larger community they served. We developed a large scale wayfinding and visibility plan to be rolled out across the entire Canada Games Sport for Life Centre. While renaming the facility was not possible, we wanted to ensure that anyone that entered the building would receive a “Sport Manitoba experience.”

Brand integration across partners:

We solidified Sport Manitoba’s vital role in supporting organizations across the province by creating a framework and a suite of shareable assets for partner programs to create co-branded marketing materials. 

Brand rollout into the physical space:

The Canada Games Sport for Life Centre brings together Manitoban athletes, families and spectators from over 95 amateur sports. It is a central hub for supporting the organizations that administer those sports. We identified branding opportunities, as well as developed and implemented a large scale way-finding strategy throughout the whole building. 

The launch

We positioned Sport Manitoba as the leader of sport and active living in Manitoba by:

Creating a knowable and intuitive experience

We delivered a clear and knowable for Sport Manitoba to focus on their target audience. Manitobans already supported Sport Manitoba’s mandate, they just didn’t know an organization was already championing this initiative. We raised Sport Manitoba’s recognition through clear messaging and creating high-impact visibility. This was the first-step to build Manitoban’s association with sport and active living with Sport Manitoba.

Building perceptive brand architecture

An intuitive structure that helped manage, communicate and grow the organization through consistent and unified design strategy.

Cultivating definition & Organization

We created a clear relationship between Sport Manitoba and its sub-brands. Manitobans were already impacted by Sport Manitoba’s work because they were already interacting with its sub-brands, but they weren’t aware that Sport Manitoba oversaw these organizations. We created a visible connection so Manitobans would start to see Sport Manitoba’s presence in their lives and community.


Engaging audiences through informative brand experiences

A new website platform

Sport Manitoba’s redesigned website provided a new platform and brand experience for the organization to connect with their audience and share their offerings in an informative way.

Delivering direction for future growth

The design toolkit

We created a toolkit to effectively market all aspects of the organization. This set-up the organization to further build brand equity through consistent, deliberate and clear messaging across departments and offerings.

Our toolkit included the brand guidelines and templated brand assets including signage, promotional items including ads, email newsletter templates, posters designs (print and digital) and more. This allowed us to create a core set of asset templates that the organization could update and ensure their messaging was always cohesive and on brand.

This tool kit also included processes, marketing materials and strategies to continue to create scale within the established resources of the organization.

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