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Canada: The Country, The Brand

June 22, 2017 by Erin Pepler

Canada: The Country, The Brand

Canadians are known for embracing stereotypes about their culture. You think we love hockey, maple syrup, camping and poutines? Yeah, we do. We're excessively polite (but a little rowdy), wear touques and punctuate our sentences with "sorry" and "eh"? Sure, fair enough. As a country, we're proud of who we are, and wear our flag proudly.

Speaking of the flag, let's take a moment to talk about representations of Canada. Much like a business or a celebrity, countries can have a brand - and ours is strong. Say the word 'Canada' and immediately, you'll be hit with visual references - the maple leaf, the beaver, the totem poles of our indigenous communities. The red and white colours of the flag. These icons are worked into advertising as a way to connect with consumers who proudly identify as Canadian.

Canada is written into the names of banks, airlines, major retail stores and clothing manufacturers. It's referenced in the names of our sports teams. Iconic visual representations of our country are worked into other brands, from Maple Leaf Foods to Beaver Canoe and Roots Canada. Hudson's Bay has found incredible success with an elegant, patriotic marketing strategy and brand that reflects a hip (yet old money) clientele. Their ultra-Canadian Hudson's Bay blanket became a cornerstone of their brand, and has grown to a comprehensive line of textiles, mugs and other products. These brands are Canada, and these brands sell.

Companies connect themselves to Canada because Canada's brand itself is so immersive, recognizable and respected. It evokes trust, pride and a sense of home. It's comfort and security. Canada is an easy sell - but it has to be done right. A great example of this is the popularity of the ongoing #Canada150 campaign, which has filtered into media, brands and mainstream conversation. A simple hashtag created in a marketing meeting has become the symbol of our country's birthday - a brand within a brand, executed and received with great succcess.

We recently asked our team which brands said 'Canada' to them, and listed the top five on our social media accounts. Other suggestions included Canadian Tire, Royal Bank of Canada, and even relative newcomer WestJet. Take a look at this list of Canada's most valuable brands, if you're interested in the difference between popularity and financial profit.

So as you're singing the anthem under some fireworks on Canada Day, think about what Canada means to you, and how these elements brand us as a nation. As Canadians, we are part of that brand, and carry it with us while helping to shape it through the years. Companies may borrow elements of Canada to position their own interests, but in the end, the maple leaf more than marketing - it's home.

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