Three Things To Embrace From The @Raptors

The Raptors have a strong identity in social. Ever since they unveiled their “We The North” campaign in 2014, they have burst on the scene with a solid presence that stands out. They’re a team that understands their brand through and through and aren’t afraid to push the boundaries. In honor of the Raptors’ great work, here are three things to embrace from their approach.


Embrace your identity.

The Raptors are a team that have gone through the exercise of branding. They have laid a foundation for what their brand stands for and it shine through online.

The core of their branding starts with the idea of “We The North”. It’s the embrace of everything uniquely Canadian. It taps into what makes their team different – the only NBA team outside of the US – and makes it a proud point of differentiation. The video below sets the whole tone:

The idea of the North has a bit of an edge. It’s about embracing being an outsider. It’s about something only the Raptors can own. And, it’s worked. The North has turned into a rallying cry, a passion, maybe even a bit of a cult following.

What strikes me most is the team has brought to life their identity by firing on all cylinders. North is about more than a slogan. Their brand comes together through strong messaging, a visual identity, a tone, strong creative / content, values, an emotional connection. They’ve built an identity and a culture for their fans.



All too often we talk about brand in a one dimensional way. For some teams, it’s about a strong understanding of their values. For others, it’s simply about words or a strong visual identity. It’s hard work to be deliberate about everything that defines a team’s identity. The Raptors are an example of the total package.

How does your team want to be perceived? Do the work and execute on it.


Embrace access.

The Raptors have invested in a strong identity alone. They have invested in a strong content strategy that allows fans to connect with the team and brings their brand to life.

One of the things that stands out about their approach is their commitment to giving fans access. Through their series Open Gym, they give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the journey of the team on and off the court. Episodes highlight everything from overcoming injuries to personal moments. Below are a few snippets, including one of a player becoming a father for the first time.

S6E12 – Choices. #OGSeasonVI Open Gym pres by Bell now live on YouTube.

A post shared by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Open Gym is a reality series that helps fans build an emotional connection with the team and leaves them coming back for more. It’s this all access and the raw emotion that is key to its success. Watch the full series here.

Another strong example of access from the Raptors is their new series The Spot, where ball meets food culture. The series gives fans a personal look at players’ favorite restaurants.

People and personalities help build a strong connection to teams. In this crowded sports space, intimate access is something unique only teams can provide. Take this page from the Raptors and you’ll build a deeper connection with your fan base.


Embrace partners to elevate content.

Sponsored content is an opportunity to elevate your presence. When teams move beyond slapping a logo on a score graphic and focus on finding the common themes with their brand and partners, magical things happen. Content gets created that is valuable for the team, the sponsor and the fans.

The Raptors are a great example of a team that has leveraged partners to elevate their content. Their sponsored content is anything but ad-like; it’s entertaining and often puts players in a fun and different light. Below are a few highlights.

Who wouldn't want a cake from a 3-time All-Star! Coach is lucky.

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It’s important to push partners, internally and externally, to hold sponsored content to a high standard. It should enhance the team’s social presence. The content should be something the team wants to push out; not something they want to bury. Creating content that is elevated like this comes with a price tag and a commitment to doing it right. Know the value of your channels and push back or walk away when something is not right for the brand.

From their strong identity to their intimate access, the Raptors set the bar high. What stands out to you about their presence?

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