Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The National Brand of Canada

Remember our Brand Map of Canada?

It leads to the question, with all these Canadian brands, which one deserves to be called the National Brand of Canada? This question yields to analysis so I took it to an online survey with this question:

The survey randomly scrambled the order of brands.  The sample spread via social networks. More than 330 responses later I looked at the results.  Now, I am not saying this is a scientifically valid study, but I am arguing that it gives a pretty good pulse of the mindshare and heartshare of Canadian respondents.

And the winner is for the brand that deserves the title "The National Brand of Canada"...
You might not be surprised at this. Looking at some of the leading responses below, we can see that Tim's is the runaway favorite. Folks, its not even close:

Tim Horton's: The Runaway Favorite to be the National Brand of Canada
Here's something else that is interesting- check out the other leading brands.  Notice a common trend here in the names: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Tire, Molson (Molson Canadian), Petro Canada, RBC (historically, Royal Bank of Canada).  Add Roots with its beaver logo, and you can see how these brand elements (names, logos) fuel Canadiana.
But Tim Horton wins without any of this. The brand  doesn't have the name Canada in its name or a maple leaf  or beaver in its logo. So where did the brand's  Canadianess come from? There are many ways to answer this, but I will keep it simple by highlighting 3 things.

First, there are 3,453 Tim Horton's in Canada. That's a lot. There is a Tim Horton's for every 10,000 Canadians. Let's put Tim's in an international context. There are 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the USA. To match Tim's consumer penetration, McDonald's would have to grow to about 32,500 locations in the USA .

Second, Tim's is wildly linked to hockey- "Canada's game".  From Timbits minor hockey sponsorships to Hockey Night in Canada (the most watched show in Canada) - Tim's brand is endowed with hockey. It also doesn't hurt that Tim Horton himself was a pro NHL player from Canada- and the best play in the world - Sidney Crosby is a spokesperson for the brand and former Timbit hockey player.

Timbit All Star: Crosby advertisement
So with its Canadian roots and links to the community through locations and minor hockey sponsorship, Tim's found itself inside the Canadian psyche. And now, the Canadians themselves tout just how Canadian the brand is. Tim Horton's of course, is proud to promote these homegrown Canadian stories, which add a good dose of authenticity to the Canadian side of the brand.

So Tim's gets our award for the National Brand of Canada. And its not hard to see why.


  1. Great post bob, thanks for it. Reading this raised a couple of questions: what is the value (domestically and internationally) of being so closely affiliated with a nation? Do ikea and ford get a lift from being so closely affiliated with their countries? Second: aside from good sponsorship, what techniques could you use to recreate this if you aren't in a high-volume industry?

  2. Your survey also asked the USA's national brand. Are you going to do that?