Building The Brand: Tim Hortons

In 1964, NHL player Tim Horton founded the first Tim Hortons coffee shop in Hamilton, ON. Three years later, he became full business partners with his first franchisee, Ron Joyce. 

Unfortunately, seven years later Horton would pass away in a tragic car accident. Ron decided then to start the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation in Tim’s honor. The foundation (which still runs today), was put together to assist less fortunate children.

When the coffee shop started, they only served coffee and standard donuts. It wasn’t until 1976 when the company had under 100 locations that they introduced their famous Timbits. For all of those outside of Canada, these are delicious, flavored mini-donuts.

As the company continued to expand with its franchise model, in 1986 they started their most popular marketing initiative: RRRoll Up the Rim. This campaign takes over the airwaves once a year and gets Canadians running to their local Tiimies for a chance to win anything from a coffee to a car. 

The brand also made the “double-double” commonplace verbiage, and it officially was added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004. For those wondering, this is a coffee with two sugars and 2 creamers.

Although Tim Horton passed away only 10 years into the brand’s existence, hockey is still very much at the center of the company’s marketing. Their ads consistently feature former and current NHL stars.