Canada Games Council wants to spark greatness

A rebrand is meant to inspire more than just the athletes and includes the organization's first-ever ecommerce play.

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The Canada Games Council (CGC) launched its new visual identity and brand positioning this week, supported by creative and merch that’s aimed at raising awareness and inspiring more than just athletes.

The CGC was founded in 1967 with a mission to to strengthen the fabric of Canada through the power of sport. It’s new logo is a more straight-lined take on the maple leaf and its revamped website gives users a taste of the brand’s new look (developed by agency partner Will) and is also host to its first-ever ecommerce shop (merch was previously only sold on-premise).

The “We see thee rise, and we all rise with you” launch spot showcases various sports and participating regions where games are held, and is voiced by speedskating champ Catriona Le May Doan, who is Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. 

Erin Mathany, VP of communications at the CGC, tells strategy that the new messaging has a more youthful and invigorating tone that is meant to inspire athletes, friends, family and supporters in advance of the Niagara 2022 Games. The organization, she says, previously held more of a bureaucratic tone from its time living under the federal program, Sport Canada.

The organization was borne out of the government, Mathany admits. “One of the coolest things we’ve done with Will…is that we developed a tone of voice, specific to us,” she says, one that is more “chirpy” and reflective of how its stakeholders engage on social.

The new positioning, two years in the making and built on the notion of “sparking greatness,” emerged from a Toronto workshop held with sponsors, teams and athletes in which attendees had a difficult time deciding what the Games actually meant.

What came from the meeting, she says, was that sparking greatness transcended sport beyond famous alum like Sidney Crosby or Lennox Lewis or athletes following in their footsteps, but also next generation business leaders like Duncan Fulton, a Games alum and COO at Restaurant Brands International, as well as volunteers and Games staff.

PEI-Games

“We are more than just next gen high performance athletes,” Mathany says.

The CGC team and Will also worked closely with athletes and partners to ensure the new identity had the flexibility to be adapted to the unique personalities of current and future host communities, while maintaining a strong, coherent and consistent connection to the overarching mission of the Games.

“We took an idea from the FIFA World Cup and X-Games, which have trophy outline [logos] and each individual fills it in,” she says. Hosts can represent their communities by incorporating their own elements, like PEI does by incorporating green and blue colour schemes (image above).

The new brand was unveiled earlier this week and was followed by the brand’s first major campaign for the launch of the official countdown to the 2023 PEI Winter Games yesterday. The creative integrated elements like the Confederation Bridge, a PEI-inspired colour palette, and a brand video voiced by singer-songwriter and PEI native, Lennie Gallant.

Merch sales are doing well so far, Mathany says. “Blood, Sweat & Maple Syrup” hoodies were a great investment from a marketing perspective, she says, as its athletes are its greatest ambassadors on social media. She reports that it’s had sales from as far away as the U.K. and Japan.

In 2017, the Canada Games Council launched a campaign celebrating its 50th anniversary, also developed by Will, highlighting the “Untold Story” of the athletes who work to make it to the event. 

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