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Branding Canada eh?

The best part about blogging is that it can be about opinions, unconstrained by the lack of context or data, just pure opinion.

Last week I went to a breakfast session put on by the good folks at Leger Marketing. The talk was about branding a nation as opposed to a corporation. I was fascinated by the subject as I have long had a secret desire to take on branding Canada as my next career challenge. It’s unlikely to ever happen but it sure is fun to think about how brand to the country I love so much.Canadian Boy

So here are my thoughts as a citizen on what elements we should brand as a country. I know I am oversimplifying but hopefully it will be food for thought.

First my simple criteria for selecting my three point brand focus:

  • Branding a nation is difficult so our brand focus should leverage something that is already culturally grounded in our psyches. For example, if we are not a warlike people, we should not consider a brand association with aggression.
  • Branding a nation is time consuming so it should align with a macro trend that will help us leverage our brand position into real economic benefits that strengthen over time as the trend or trends develop
  • Branding a nation should be about something that will benefit the citizens themselves as well as the external audiences for our brand
  • Branding a nation should take into account the realities of attributes about the nation that are not easily overcome, for example in our case we have a very large geography that is not easily changed
  • A brand strategy should have a focus – we can’t be all things to all people. People can’t remember any more than 3 things at any one time, so let’s keep our brand focus at 3 things.
  • Our brand strategy should support economic as well as social goals – for example, increase tourism, exports, inward investment, talent attraction and retention

So without further ado for brand element #1, I think our Canadian brand should be associated with Extraordinary Customer Service.


  • We are already known as “nice and polite”, why haven’t we translated this brand equity into something tangible. We can leverage attributes that already exist in our psyches.
  • As technology becomes more commoditized, It is clear that customer service will increasingly be “the” competitive differentiator. With the advent of social media the ability of each and every consumer to talk about customer service and influence your business has increased exponentially. We’ve already lost control of the message, why not ensure that every interaction with a Canadian is a positive one and let the people promote our brand for us. There is nothing people would rather talk about than how they feel about a product, service or company.
  • And lastly, we’d all benefit. Just think how much better life would be if Rogers and Bell Mobility offered extraordinary service. What would we do with the extra time we’d have, the time that we wouldn’t have to spend on hold or arguing about how their service really isn’t working as it should be.

The only downside? What would we complain about?
So chip in here – what do you think we should be known for up here in Canada?

Written by Lynda Partner

September 28th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

With 15 comments