Brand Canada: The Marketing of a Country

Canada the good. Canada the polite. Canada the humble. Well, since the last winter Olympics… a subtle change has occurred in the Canadian persona. Since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canada has been evolving its persona…still really nice, but a little more edgy. It took the Vancouver Winter Olympics for the world to stop and take notice that Canada does contribute a lot to the world and not only with its steady supply of Canadian comedians! Dare I call it patriotism… that word that has for many Canadians negative associations?

It wasn’t so long ago Canada was the quiet country, the large gentle giant… ever so apologetic and well… nice.

Somehow, somewhere, it has become cool to be a Canadian. It has to become hip to carry the icon Maple Leaf…so perfect for a brand signature. And it all began with hosting the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. That forum gave Canada an opportunity to present itself authentically. What most didn’t realize was that Canada would take world by surprise… and yes that includes Canadians! The only difference between us Canadians and the rest of the world is that we always knew that we didn’t live in igloos!

Canadians were astonished that we could all feel as one. This “showy” display of solidarity – where did this type of patriotism come from? This visible pride of being Canadian? All of a sudden Canadians along with the rest of the world realized that we actually do have a lot to be proud of and not because of our cool fashionable Olympic outfits.

Many Canadians felt that after the Vancouver Olympics ended, we would once again go back to being, well, quiet… That the feeling of pride and solidarity wouldn’t last. But the Vancouver Olympics was just the beginning. In between 2010 and the 2014 Winter Olympics, Canada has increasingly become a strong visual brand. The Canada brand logo is the iconic Maple Leaf (can you get a more single iconic brand visual?), and has become coveted by all.

In Europe and through Asia, a Maple Leaf on backpacks, luggage tags, hats, t-shirts and pins have for the most part guaranteed a friendly smile, a warm reception. Canada now has admittedly a cool factor – something we even acknowledge amongst ourselves… quite unapologetic, I might add.

Today we watch our Olympic Athletes in Sochi and we have awesome brand awareness (oops… country awareness). Canadians more then ever have become vocal… we have become proud without losing our sense of being Canadian. Case in point, Canadian speed skater Gilmore Junio gave up his Winter Olympic spot to his more experienced teammate Denny Morrison in the men’s 1,000-meter race. This was an act of kindness that ended with Morrison winning a silver medal in the event. Listen to the amazing interviews from all of our Canadian athletes. We are winter. Humble. Grateful. Confident. Authentic. We are Canada. Not a bad brand character for a country, when all is said and done.

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