Street banners alone all major roads in Toronto (4,500 banners)

Branding 2015 Pan American Games — What Went Wrong?

What is the one thing you remember of the Pan Am Games in summer 2015? Was it the temporary HOV or Kanye West?

By ticket sales Pan Am 2015 sold over a million out of 1.4 million tickets available. Whether it’s a sold out event or not is subject to opinions. As far as the event brand is concerned, there was a serious lack in the effectiveness of crucial brand execution and communication to give the event a distinct personality, never mind invigorating the event spirit to promulgate a meaningful experience.

Is Toronto 2015 a successful brand?

We see “Toronto 2015” everywhere. Is it clearly about the Pan Am Games? The theme “Toronto 2015” is detached from the event logo — not leveraging the brand of Pan Am Games. Of the 4,500 street banners throughout the city of Toronto, half of them feature like a city theme — Toronto 2015; the other half has the Pan Am Games logo in 10% of the banner size. The Pan Am Games title is in a mouse type — for what purpose? It is a disconnection between their brand guide and the actual design execution.

Colourful display but is it visible?

Designed with light colours on a white background, the brand is colourful; however, only 20–30% colour contrast in the design is barely readable. Unlike the Olympics or some major international games, the Pan Am Games logo doesn’t standout, nor is it distinct compared to other international sporting events.


Do you feel the Pan Am Games in the city?”
I asked my friends in the first few days of the games.
When does it start?” was the common reply.

5,000 no name highway signs
in need of encryption

Pan Am Games Toronto 2015 Way-finding system

NPS, EXC, OPW… the meaningless codes on signs have us scratch our heads and they don’t mean anything to the general public. To decode them? Look them up online. These signs are not helping to engage for an enjoyable experience. How can we get excited about the games?

Many elements. No priority.

The Pan Am mix of communications includes their motto “United We Play”, the mascot “PACHI”, plus the arts and culture program “PANAMANIA”. These elements add to the experience mix but they don’t blend well together with the overall Pan Am experience. The absence of connectedness is obvious.

Points to ponder:

Be it well coordinated or not, a brand is an opinion from your audience based on their personal experience. There is no memorable brand personality if communications elements are not coherent like an ecosystem.

Philip Yan
www.genesisxd.com/blog/brandingto2015