Opinions, best practices and research into B2B marketing strategy and practices

What is We the North? Why local matters in marketing

Lego bricks spelling out We the North - local matters

I doubt that anyone outside of Canada recognizes the slogan ‘We the North’ or thinks that it has any particular marketing magic. But for millions of Canadians it resonates deeply and spurs them to open their hearts and wallets – proof that local know-how matters in marketing.

The phrase isn’t particularly evocative, and its grammatical accuracy is questionable, but for most of the 36 million inhabitants of the Great White North (aka Canada), ‘We the North’ is instantly recognizable as the slogan for the Toronto Raptors – and a patriotic rallying cry. Their minute-long hype video delivers a hard-hitting message that the Raptors are not like the others, clearly defining what differentiates them. The Raptors are the only NBA team not based in the USA and the ‘We the North’ campaign started in 2015 to bring excitement to Canada’s single top-tier professional basketball team.

It’s been hugely successful within Canada, even among non-sports fans. The slogan adorns sweatshirts and ball caps throughout the country and draws masses of fans to the NBA underdogs, but it holds no meaning beyond Canadian borders. Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Finns are all equally from the north, but Nordic dwellers wouldn’t see this as a point of pride or distinction, nor would they brag about it.

Laura and Chloe and tag

The author with Chloe Lackman, BBN coordinator at tag agencies.

The success of ‘We the North’ is only possible within Canada – and it took an agency with deep local understanding to get that. As part of BBN, the world’s B2B agency, we have marketing specialists on five continents who really get their local cultures and understand the messaging that appeals within their markets. It’s true that B2B marketing is growing globally and keeps expanding through technology – but it’s still important to have a local touch.

Branding and marketing strategies are useless if they don’t resonate with buyers you want to reach. And there’s no more sure-fire way to ensure that connection than working with experienced, trusted advisers on the ground in your desired markets.

Where do you want to go today? Go North.

 


I recently visited tag agencies, our BBN partners in Toronto and the photo accompanying this post is proof of how prevalent the slogan is – it’s proudly displayed in their offices.

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Laura Matheson

I like to wear many hats (although not literally because of the resulting squished hair) and delight in knowing a little bit about a lot of things. I’ve always been a writer and a reader, which led me to complete a Master of Library and Information Studies degree – although that turned out to be more about information technology than actual books. This achievement furthered my desire to organize everything and to wield my IT knowledge to help people connect with information and each other. As part of cylindr BBN, I write and strategize about B2B marketing and branding, including digging into GDPR and user privacy, flexing my SEO muscles and wrapping my head around the nuances of Danish to English translation. Outside of the 9-5, I teach yoga (mostly the relaxing, lazy kind) and hang out with my dog a lot.