Friday, February 9, 2007

The Branding of the Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Logo: 2004-- The Toronto Blue Jays have competed in Major League Baseball for 30 years (winning two World Championships) and they have undergone four logo changes in their brief history.

In contrast, the team's main rivals, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, recent World Series winners, have maintained their current look for more than 50 years.

So in 2003, the Blue Jays unveiled a new logo and color scheme. The logo is a styled Blue Jay extending to the left from the word Jays working from a color palette of blue, metallic silver and metallic graphite---a departure from the teams more conservative designs.

During the Blue Jays logo and uniform unveiling in September 2003, General Manager J.P. Ricciardi said the change would attract younger fans to support the team through merchandise sales.

"When you're in a market like ours, it's important to take advantage of a lot of the young kids that buy this stuff. The Blue Jays have only been around for 26 years -- we're not like the Yankees or Red Sox. This is something we have to delve in to get people interested in our look."

Canadian residents including myself were peeved the team and its creative consultants chose to drop the distinctive Maple Leaf from the emblem of Canada's only remaining Major League team. The team countered the new logo sought to connect with its community.

"We wanted the brand to stand more on its own," said Lisa Novak, the Blue Jays' senior vice president of business affairs. "People know we're a Canadian club. We want to appeal to our fans from western New York, and we no longer wanted to be thought of exclusively Canadian."

Branding the Toronto Blue Jays: The Message

Pitcher Roy Halladay

With its sleek look and a more aggressive bird design, the Blue Jays management wanted to convey a fresh start for the team.

"If you took a snapshot of this team three years ago and then took a snapshot of it now, from a business point of view it's changed dramatically," Team President and CEO Paul Godfrey said in 2003. "We're now seeking, through our marketing and through this logo, a whole new approach to the game. This logo, in my opinion, symbolized energy, enthusiasm, confidence and determination. That's what we were looking for, both on the field and off the field."

The logo and uniform change fit into the law of quality, mentioned in Al and Luara Ries’ book, 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. Team officials want the play on the field to match the characteristics of its logo as described by Godfrey. The Blue Jays branding can be found on its uniform and can be found on its Web site and all forms of memorabilia from baseball cards to bats to signs around its home stadium, the Rogers Centre.

The brand is reinforced through the play of its star players including pitcher Roy Halladay, outfielder Vernon Wells and closer B.J. Ryan during televised games.

Branding the Toronto Blue Jays: Culture

The Rogers Centere

The Blue Jays brand, while not as recognizable as the Yankees and Red Sox, is designed to appeal to its baseball fans worldwide.

A prime example of niche marketing, the Blue Jays invoke strong feelings of loyalty among its fans in Canada and in northern portion of the United States. The brand will ultimately grow in popularity, though, when it returns to the post-season---a feat last accomplished during its glory years of the early 1990s.