Of the four major sports leagues in North America, the National Hockey League has undoubtedly faced and overcome the most adversity, with limited exposure in the U.S. and three lockouts since 1994. Like most cult brands, the NHL is guided by a simple, yet powerful creed: “We don’t own the game of hockey–we serve it.” Check out the full interview below.

At the core of that ethos is an unwavering commitment to fans, a relationship that drives engagement and an all-out obsessive love of the game. It comes down to the brand’s understanding that hockey is about emotion. Think of the rush of watching the perfectly executed play or the heartbreaking roller coaster as your favourite team loses to a long-standing rival in overtime.

Cult brands seize opportunities to remind fans why they’re passionate. “If you keep your eyes and ears to the ground and close to your customer, in our instance our fans, they’ll usually lead you to the right place,” says Brian Jennings, Chief Marketing Officer of NHL.

It’s the human element that matters most and the NHL authentically promotes those powerful emotions to keep fans connected and coming back for more.

I had the chance to speak with CMO of NHL, Brian Jennings, in February to get key insights on how the NHL has used technology and innovation to bring the game closer to its fans.

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