2020 was a pivotal year for Axi. With plans to launch the biggest rebrand in their company history in October, the online trading brand wanted a unique marketing channel through which to share their new identity with the world.
In the third installment of our fintech and football series with SportQuake, Axi’s Chief Commercial Officer Louis Cooper and SportQuake CEO Matt House discuss how the brand found this unique platform via a global sponsorship with Premier League super-club Manchester City.
To find out more, sign up for the Football & Fintech panel discussion at Finance Magnates November Virtual Summit.
Background: A pivotal brand moment sparks football investment
Louis Cooper: Axi was founded in 2007. As an online brand, we had always been a digital-first business and marketing campaigns had reflected this, with efforts to grow our client base focused around social media, webinars and paid advertising. We’d supplemented this offline with exhibitions and events. This had proven effective with substantial growth over the past five years.
We’d also been developing a substantial rebrand for two years, transitioning from ‘AxiTrader’ to ‘Axi’ and 2020 was the year this work would come to fruition.
It was an important moment in our history, propelling us into our next growth phase, so we wanted to make as big an impact as possible. When we began speaking with SportQuake at the beginning of the year, the idea of football sponsorship became a compelling option to drive the impact we desired.
Matt House: When we heard that Axi were set to refresh their brand to facilitate their ambitious growth plans we thought football sponsorship could be a very valuable marketing tool for them.
Trading is reaching a tipping point in football, like the online betting industry a decade ago, with more and more brands investing in sponsorships, but Axi were yet to participate.
As football fans themselves, they soon saw the potential value it could have for their business.
Cooper: The prospect of coinciding our rebrand with the launch of a new football sponsorship made a lot of sense for us, based on the notion that people only buy what they know.
We wanted to use a sponsorship to educate a global audience on Axi’s values and the various assets classes within our portfolio; amplify our brand message to the world, along with the key differentiators that set us apart (e.g. our unique AI PsyQuation platform) and entrench ourselves in the minds of potential traders. A football partnership would let us do just that.
Strategic Development: A meeting of the minds in Manchester
House: We provided Axi with a shortlist of potential strategies that we felt would help them to achieve their outlined objectives. Of these, Manchester City soon emerged as the leading option.
Cooper: The partnership with City is a meeting of the minds. We wanted a partner that aligned with our values and City did just that. The passion, trust, teamwork and resilience that have made the club so successful over the past decade are also the qualities that the Axi team pride ourselves on.
Moreover, our brands are similar in the challenger mindsets we possess and the hunger for consistent growth and improvement. The progress the club has made over the last five years mirrors that of Axi. We’re on the same growth trajectory on the path to greater success.
Another key consideration was the league in which City play. The Premier League is the most watched football league in the world – broadcast in 643m homes across 212 territories, with a potential TV audience of 4.7bn people.
As a global brand already present in 100+ countries, this reach would allow us to deepen our relationship with our community and expand our presence further.
We also weighed up the wider rights packages, particularly match day experiences, offered by different potential partners. The Etihad Stadium is one of the UK’s leading venues, enabling us to give City fans and Axi customers special money-can’t-buy experiences. We want to build on our already award-winning service and exclusive giveaways will help us to do this.
House: It’s also important to mention that the partnership won’t be used in isolation. Instead, football sponsorships can be fully-integrated across all key touch points within Axi’s business. Manchester City is now a real part of the Axi story and will be a key partner as they grow and scale their business.
Activation: Bringing fans closer to the action in an uncertain time
Cooper: We launched the partnership on the 1st October, coinciding with the announcement of our rebrand. This brought instant global awareness to our new look and brand name, ‘Axi’.
When considering how to activate the partnership, the starting point for us was our business objectives. In collaboration with City’s partnerships team, we agreed several engagement platforms that we could utilise to achieve these objectives.
As a brand, we have a learning culture. City share this philosophy and we will work closely with their industry-leading data and analytics team throughout the partnership to track and improve on our campaigns to ensure we are achieving our objectives. The club’s support and expertise will be invaluable in this respect.
As Matt mentioned, the Axi team is full of football fans and the sponsorship will allow us to share our love of the game with millions of people around the world.
Our campaigns and activities will be deeply rooted in customer insights, helping us to find the right touch points, offers and engagement tactics to provide the best brand experience for our customers and City fans alike.
Our partnership tagline, Trade Your Edge, embodies this effort, serving as a commitment to providing traders with all the tools they need to be best equipped for success.
Our launch campaign revolved around the concept of ‘the edge’, in this case, the advantageous edge that City supporters give their team during every match.
The launch video, voiced by City fan Jason Manford, celebrated the club’s fan base and their undying support for the club.
The video was supplemented by a social competition where fans could win City home shirts, signed by Kevin De Bruyne and club legend Micah Richards.
We’re really looking forward to developing this relationship and connecting City fans with their team, particularly at a time when they aren’t able to physically attend matches.
Our employees won’t be left out of this excitement either. We’re deploying internal programs to bring the City experience close to the Axi team, with plans to further expand the platform in the future to also impact our CSR initiatives.
House: Axi excelled in coinciding the partnership announcement with their rebrand. It was a lot of work, but it was very impressive to see how their team and agency partners came together to achieve an impactful activation – SportQuake really loved being a part of it.
Focusing on Axi’s brand refresh, they’ve done well in carving a niche position in the sector as a personable, human brand.
These are uncertain times, but this new positioning will serve to instil trust and credibility in their service. The partnership with City will increase this trust and credibility even further.
As investment by trading brands in football grows, we’re seeing brands becoming increasingly ambitious, stepping away from traditional activations to see how they can achieve the highest return on their investment.
Axi understood the need to do this from the get-go and we’re sure it will deliver results going forward.
Looking Ahead: Partnership launch sets the tone for success
Louis: We are delighted with the global attention that the partnership and rebrand has received, further reinforcing our confidence in the strategy and path that the brand is on.
Millions of people globally have been introduced to the Axi brand, either via PR efforts or an ad campaign across social and trading media. In addition, the Axi brand has been broadcast into millions of homes via worldwide coverage of City home matches, most recently their game against league champions Liverpool last weekend.
We are seeing the pull on our social and acquisition channels and expect growth throughout the duration of the partnership. The platform also provides Axi with the platform to build products and services for a wider investing audience.
House: It’s not just trading media but sports media too. The partnership has already proven to be a great way to share the Axi story.
Launching a rebrand and football partnership on the same day was an ambitious project, but it was brilliant to see it all come together so smoothly and have a massive impact. Louis and the wider Axi team deserve a lot of credit for that.
Cooper: The platform provided by our partnership with City has enabled us to reach a global audience. Axi have an award-winning service with a great brand story and we now have a mainstream stage on which to share this.