Review the Minnesota United brand story after the ALSD’s recent visit to the Allianz Field Experience Center.
The spirit of a start-up. But with already deep-rooted traditions. Minnesota United is a textbook for creative storytelling.
To cap off our six-part video series featuring Minnesota United, a brand telling a pretty unique story in only its second year in MLS, here are my top-five favorite chapters of that brand story.
The story begins with Wonderwall. Yeah, like the Oasis song.
Wonderwall is the name given to the 2,800-space, not seat, safe-standing supporters section to be included in Allianz Field, currently under construction in St. Paul.
So about this Wonderwall ritual. It dates back to the club’s NASL days when after a big win, the coaches and players would sing the Gallagher brothers’ ditty. It didn’t take long for the crowd to catch on and join in, transforming Wonderwall from (insert your favorite meme here) into a rally anthem for Minnesota soccer.
“[Wonderwall] will drive this iconic feel that we have inside the stadium,” says Chris Wright, CEO of Minnesota United.
“It gives you chills,” adds Bryant Pfeiffer, EVP and Chief Revenue Officer for Minnesota United. “It is really one of the most unique things that we have going in our fan experience.”
The second chapter is Minnesota United’s award-winning crest, incredibly popular from a merchandising standpoint, its appeal stemming from its clean design and connectivity to Minnesota.
It depicts a loon, the state bird of Minnesota, peering up (and presumably singing Wonderwall) with its red eye gazing at the North Star, inspired by the state motto. Quick side note: The red eye is also illustrated on the team’s kits, a red button sewn into the jersey’s collar. The loon majestically flashes a wing of 11 feathers, one for each player on the pitch, flying over a blue stripe, representative of the Mississippi River which bisects Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The next chapter is Scarves Up Minnesota, this year’s marketing slogan for Minnesota United.
The marketing mantra is in reference to the Minnesota United’s ritual of spinning scarves overhead like a helicopter (a la Petey Pablo) on every corner kick for the Loons.
Turns out scarves come in handy in Minneapolis in February, for more reasons than one. The first reason is obvious: 30 degrees is considered a heat wave during the Minnesota winter. But the second reason came as a surprise to me.
While traversing Minneapolis’ labyrinth in the sky, I unzipped my coat, exposing my new Minnesota United scarf.
The scarf is a mark of tribal significance for soccer clubs around the globe that rings true in the Twin Cities as I quickly learned from one innocuous passerby.
“Scarves Up!”, he said. I kid you not, he pronounced it loud and proud, unaware that I was a warm-weather foreigner just visiting the American arctic. No matter. That scarf was like a secret handshake that got me in the door. It really demonstrates the culture that Minnesota United is building.
On the southwest side of Allianz Field, a sculpture will be introduced, comprised of letters, 12-feet-high and 65-feet-wide, spelling out “UNITED”. This element serves as a monument to the first 11,842 season ticket members of Minnesota United, a collection of fans known as the Itasca Society. The Itasca Society derives its name from Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota – the location for the source of the Mississippi River.
Why 11,842? Because that’s the exact number of lakes in Minnesota. The Land of 10,000 Lakes? False advertising.
“We think this will be a destination spot on the property,” says Pfeiffer, “a place to get your selfie next to your name and a panoramic shot with the stadium in the backdrop. On national broadcasts, this will be how you know you’re in St. Paul.”
Signing the Flag
One final wow moment awaits new season ticket buyers at the Allianz Field Experience Center. Anyone who purchases seats is invited to sign a Minnesota United flag that will fly in Allianz Field. As fans approach and apply their John Hancock, an overhead motion-sensor speaker triggers the playing of Wonderwall, reinforcing the rite and ritual of being a Minnesota United fan, and closing the story arc where it began.
You can’t use these chapters. These belong to Minnesota United. But think about your brand, your identity, your culture, the things your tribe owns and owns alone.
Watch our entire six-part video series on Minnesota United and Allianz Field.