There’s no denying that the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most storied franchises in the NHL. They’ve had over 100 years to write additional chapters, witnessing their share of generational trends come and go throughout that span. So, when a campaign like the Reverse Retro 2.0 jerseys is teased, Toronto fans are justifiably excited given the endless design options that should generate an unparalleled level of unique creativity.
Yet, once again, Maple Leafs supporters are left wanting more. Wondering what could have been, following the official launch of Toronto’s latest cash grab.
Maple Leafs Maintain Mediocre Marketing
There is no easier excuse for NHL organizations to be as overtly imaginative, than with their Reverse Retro design. The only guidance that appears prominent, though loosely, makes mention that each design is based on a year of significance for the respective franchise.
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But, beyond that, whether or not there are further confines for organizations to follow is a little less clear. Especially since some clubs seem to push the limits, splashing past colours and stretching their branding in ways not otherwise possible.
Toronto, though, chose a safer route. Their newest sweater essentially looks like one they could be wearing on any given night. Far from an attempted compliment, since it adds to the fact that they really missed the mark here.
According to the official announcement explaining all 32 designs, Toronto’s is based on their 1961-62 campaign.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Honoring their 1961-62 Stanley Cup-winning uniform, the Maple Leafs crest is recreated with vintage, single-needle stitching. A new, narrow shoulder yoke with pointed seam construction was specifically created to match the original sweater.
It’s one thing to align a modern identity seeking added success with a history that achieved it. Toronto already does a masterful job of that, in many ways. One need not look any further than the walkway outside of Scotiabank Arena’s main entrance, where Legend’s Row resides, for a perfect example.
However, marketing demands greater innovation these days. The Reverse Retro campaign should be less about being confined by tradition and more so an opportunity for the organization to leverage its past in a captivating manner. This jersey failed to accomplish that task.
Toronto’s Apathetic Approach to Honouring History
It’s not a great look when younger organizations effectively leverage a far more limited history. There’s no excuse when it comes to seeing teams like the Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, or Colorado Avalanche accomplish better than the Maple Leafs in this respect.
That said, despite Toronto having over a century of inspiration to sift through, one can make the case that with its branding having maintained such an iconic look throughout most of that span there isn’t much room to work with outside of those lines. But that’s just lazy and fans deserve better.
Those involved in bringing this concept to life should have been empowered and encouraged to dig deeper. Sure, there’s a limited number of variations to choose from, but balancing a playfully professional blend of Arenas, St. Pats, and Maple Leafs branding couldn’t have been as impossible as the club continues to make it seem.
Although the Maple Leafs have brought back the nostalgia surrounding their former themes in different ways of late, they’ve yet to combine the best aspects of their various identities — past and present.
They had an opportunity to do so with the Reverse Retro 2.0 release and fumbled it, just like they did the first time around.
Maple Leafs’ Laziness Will Cost Them
It’s one thing to rely on history to maintain an already loyal fanbase, but that does little in the way of engaging a new set of supporters. Although that may seem like a moot point when it comes to the Maple Leafs, being one of today’s most popular franchises, failing to modernize will catch up to them sooner than later.
First and foremost, gaining added attention requires doing more than working toward the status quo. That approach might be an effective one for keeping those already there captivated for the time being, but it won’t draw in the group who needs more of a reason to engage.
Trying new things is a surefire way to decipher what works and what doesn’t when it comes to elevating a brand’s presence. Unfortunately, Toronto being too stubborn to go that route means it’s far less likely that they’re adding to their fanbase in the meantime.
What’s more, some of Toronto’s die-hards are finding it increasingly difficult to remain optimistic. Suggesting that the team is entering territory wherein even their most loyal are going to start requiring more to stick around.
Although a new jersey design won’t help the Maple Leafs answer for lacklustre performances, it wouldn’t hurt when it comes to improving the club’s customer satisfaction. Expecting those who bleed blue to spend their hard-earned money, filling the pockets of their favourite franchise, should include a return that offers more than constant disappointment.
Without creating additional ways to appease fans, that cash flow will eventually run dry. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it can’t. Given that they currently own the longest Stanley Cup drought in the league, it’s in the Maple Leafs’ best interest to avoid tempting fate in that regard.
So, while those responsible for Toronto’s on-ice success pour their focus into affecting the organization’s results, the crew in charge of elevating the fan experience needs to work on an improved approach to reaching their goal.
Then, when the Maple Leafs finally find a way to elevate toward the game’s ultimate achievement, they can count on a city full of supporters showing up in a look that aligns accordingly.
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Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.