Elks Rebrand

Edmonton Elks


How do you retire a beloved football team’s controversial name?

It was time for the CFL’s most win­ning team to retire a name now con­sid­ered offen­sive. Even though this was the right thing to do, it didn’t stop a fierce debate that pit­ted fan against fan—those who want­ed to keep the name and those that didn’t. Boy­cotts were threat­ened. This was a do or die moment. The new brand had to be met with not just accep­tance, but enthu­si­asm. And lead the way in CFL team brand­ing.


Always put the fans first

For the launch to be suc­cess­ful, we knew fans had to be part of the jour­ney. We also knew it was impor­tant to hon­our the her­itage of the club by select­ing a name start­ing with an E to pre­serve the icon­ic EE emblem.

We start­ed the process by reach­ing out to Edmon­to­ni­ans for their name sug­ges­tions. Along­side pub­lic sub­mis­sions names, we also cre­at­ed names. In total, close to 15,000 names were gen­er­at­ed. From there we cre­at­ed a short­list of sev­en that deliv­ered on the brand cri­te­ria, includ­ing rela­tion to the region and rel­e­vance to the game.

After inter­nal align­ment on the cho­sen sev­en, we invit­ed fans back into the process. By using an online order rank fea­ture, fans were able to list the cho­sen names in order of pref­er­ence. More than 40,000 fans weighed in and, with man­age­ment and board approval secured, Edmon­ton Elks was cho­sen as the new name.


A new era of football in Edmonton is born—and embraced

After a 10-month rebrand­ing jour­ney, the new name and look were revealed. The June 1st launch saw the high­est peak in pos­i­tive social media men­tions from the pub­lic in over two years. Mer­chan­dise sales saw triple dig­it sales growth in the first two games as the com­mu­ni­ty proud­ly dis­played their cho­sen name. The ‘Antler Up’ launch video saw over half a mil­lion views on Twit­ter in just week 1, and fans in the com­mu­ni­ty even devel­oped their own Elks sup­port ini­tia­tives.

In foot­ball terms, the Elks rebrand was a touch­down. Involv­ing Edmon­to­ni­ans in nam­ing their team helped cre­ate a sense of own­er­ship and went a long way to cre­at­ing a favourable recep­tion of the new name—even hard-too-con­vince sports colum­nists and die-hard fans had kind words to share. Most every­one agreed, it was time to Antler Up!

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