Ottawa Senators brand under fire.

Liam Mooney - March 2, 2018

I spoke with the CBC earlier today about the branding challenge that Eugene Melnyk has created for the Ottawa Senators brand. Click here to see CBC story.

Eugene Melnyk has jeopardized his Ottawa Senators brand. It is salvageable, but he needs to act now.

His top priority should be to re-establish trust with fans. 

Fans don’t want a letter. They want action. They want a plan.

Placating passionate fans with buzzwords and PR speak is not going to work. 

Fans want Eugene Melnyk to put his money where his mouth his. He needs to invest in players, the experience, and the city.

Here’s a sample plan based on comments from fans. We call the plan #YOWNOW :

  1. Apologize immediately and directly to Senators fans for the comments he made at the Outdoor Winter Classic
  2. Immediately sign Erik Karlsson to a long-term contract
  3. Expand hockey operations with a vision to develop the best scouting team in the NHL (hire more scouts)
  4. Lower parking prices at Canadian Tire Centre
  5. Bring payroll from the 3rd lowest to the 10th lowest. Right away.
  6. Plumb hot water into the non-luxury suite bathrooms 
  7. Just like he did with Roger’s House in 2006, he needs to invest philanthropically in the city again through the Ottawa Senators Foundation (the second largest charity in Ottawa).

Brands are entirely psychological. We think of brands as real, concrete things but they are a shared intersubjective meaning. 

The negative perceptions among fans of Melnyk are emotional associations that affect the Ottawa Senators brand.

From that perspective, it’s really important for a CEO or brand manager to understand the psychology of how people think. This is crucial for any brand strategy. The Senators brand is associative by human nature, it’s not an entirely rational idea. We as people make emotional connections to things and brands, and this is rarely more true than in sports. 

(Brand Image: Consumers’ Mental Image of a Brand Based On: Product Personality. How Brands Work. Psychological Dimension. Promise. Builds Brand Equity. Physical Dimension.)

So for Eugene Melnyk, it doesn’t matter if the judgment from fans is fair or reasonable –  this is how people come about an idea. 

Melnyk needs to take action, be positive, and build excitement with a concrete, fan-first plan. Do that and the Senators will be a positive, exciting brand again. It’s that simple.