By Mark Bubula, President & Co-Founder
I love the Midwest. I’m a proud product of the Midwest. (The booming metropolis of Beecher, IL, nonetheless.) So, after spending my post-grad years in Boulder, I knew I needed to get back to these parts. However, twenty-three years later, it now occurs to me I made a mistake, albeit an unexpectedly happy one. In moving to the Twin Cities, I didn’t actually get back to the Midwest (at least not the Midwest I had known). I got to someplace better: Minnesota.
Once beset with “you betcha” catcalls, the nation’s freezer references and unwarranted fly over status, Minnesota has been quietly racking up an impressive list of national accolades. We’re one of the fittest, most educated, most literate, most energy efficient states in the country. We have a vibrant art, coffee, craft brewing, music, theater and outdoor scene. So, to me, it’s no surprise that the newly branded “North” is resonating with us, too often humble, Minnesotans.
But clearly there’s something more to the idea of the North, or Bold North, than a rally cry to get everyone jazzed about winter weather. What started as some incredibly cool pom-pom hats, and went on to sell the coldest Super Bowl in history, actually has great significance for us as residents, businesses, brands and marketers. It’s a classic example of what we call belief-based branding – and it’s at work on everything from reimagining our state to some of the sports franchises that call the North home.
Here’s how we see it from our Neighborhood.
The notion of a Bold North is obviously about an ideal. Part marketing construct, part nod to the climate-battered experiences of the people, brands, communities, sports teams and companies that make Minnesota home. And, like all belief-based branding, it works because it authentically taps into, and builds on, a core shared belief – Minnesota is different. Minnesota is special. Not despite our northerly geography, but in large part because of it. It takes a certain kind of fortitude, commitment and ingenuity to live and succeed in the coldest climate in the country. As residents, as workers, as communities, that no-nonsense daily doing permeates everything we set out to do, make and create. Another Monday morning rush hour blizzard only makes Monday afternoon all the more productive and on-point.
All Eyes North: Our Own Take
When you’ve experienced more coaching changes than playoff appearances over the entirety of your team history, belief is a critical component in keeping both your franchise, and your fan base, energized and engaged. Given that, our mission with the Wolves marketing team was very simple: how do we collectively pay tribute to years of faith exhibited by those within the organization’s walls and the team’s dedicated fan base, while shining a white hot spotlight on what makes the team worthy and special. The answer, an integrated initiative called “All Eyes North” that speaks, at once, to many things. The forward and upwardly mobile momentum of a reinvigorated franchise, the highest-potential product to hit the newly renovated Target City hardwood since the days of KG, the hardy resolve of loyal fans, and a nod to the Bold North rally cry of our region. See the campaign here.
While it remains to be seen how the broader Bold North platform will evolve and grow over the long-term, two things are for sure. 1.) Judging by April’s entrance, the nation’s freezer moniker ain’t going anywhere, anytime soon. And 2.) the power of belief-based marketing that speaks to consumers and engages at a heartfelt level is here to stay, as well. Because belief drives choice. And which brand doesn’t want to be chosen?