Branding is arguably more important today than it has ever been. The concept has evolved beyond just being a name, a symbol, or a marketing slogan. For a business, branding encapsulates customers’ full experience with a product or service, and how it fits into their lives. It’s become a crucial aspect of every business. We looked at some of the most powerful – and valuable – brands in Canada.
Bank of Nova Scotia is the third-largest bank in Canada, recently reporting a net income of $2.1 billion, up from $1.96 billion the previous year. And while all of Canada’s big banks rake in big bucks, Scotiabank has extended its brand to include prestigious high-culture awards and events like the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Scotiabank Photography Award, and the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. The lender also just renewed its partnership with Canadian cinema giant Cineplex (which operates most of the country’s movie theatres) for its popular Scene loyalty program, which provides tremendous visibility and name recognition. Basically, if you’ve been to the movies in Canada over the past decade, whether it’s to see the latest superhero blockbuster, an animated children’s movie or serious Oscar fare, you’ve probably been exposed to Scotiabank. That’s good branding.
The iconic Canadian clothing brand and retailer just went public, and while the stock is not off to a great start (which is being attributed more to the market’s current wariness of brick-and-mortar retail), Roots was also recently chosen by the City of Ottawa to create the official apparel to mark Canada’s 2017 centennial celebrations. Anyone who grew up in Canada over the past few decades is familiar with the iconic Roots logo (of a beaver, what else?), and for most it’s as much a part of the Great White North as hockey, snow and politeness. After more than 40 years in the business, Roots is a truly ground-breaking Canadian brand, and helped pave the way for companies like MEC, Canada Goose, and Lululemon.
Still Canada’s most beloved grocery store, Loblaws continues to prosper financially – the chain reported revenue of $11.079 million in its second quarter of 2017, up 3.2% from the same period the previous year – and its 2014 acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart helped cement its status as a true titan of Canadian retail. The company recently announced plans to slash 500 jobs at its corporate head office, which the grocery giant blames on the rising minimum wage in Ontario and Alberta, as well as health-care changes in Quebec, but that doesn’t appear to have hurt its standing with customers, who still associate the almost 100-year-old Loblaw brand with “where to get my groceries.”
There is perhaps no brand that Canadians themselves identify as distinctly Canadian as Tim Hortons. The iconic coffee and doughnut chain was purchased by Burger King in 2014 for $11.4 billion (US), and is now a subsidiary of Oakville, Ontario-based Restaurant Brands International (which is in turn owned by a Brazilian investment firm), but its shifting ownership situation hasn’t stopped Canadians from continuing to line up for their double-doubles, as RBI’s most recent earnings were up 5.91% in the third quarter, to $91.4 million. And despite a behind-the-scenes legal fight between the parent company and a group of frustrated franchisees, the Tim’s brand is still tops in Canada, and shows no signs of flagging.
Cirque du Soleil
When the Quebec-born Cirque du Soleil was sold to a US private equity firm in 2015, many wondered if it would lead to a decline in the brand’s integrity. Not so far – there are currently 20 various Cirque shows in operation around the globe, including a handful in Las Vegas alone. The recently-launched Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico was produced in part with a reported $47.7 million (US) investment from the Mexican government. Cirque du Soleil is one of the most prestigious and powerful brands in live entertainment around the world, and one that many Canadians continue to take great pride in.
Another truly iconic brand in Canadian retail – just think of the cultural impact of Canadian Tire money – Canadian Tire returned to its roots in 2016 with the reintroduction of its popular print catalogue. The refreshingly analogue move in this increasingly digital age was met enthusiastically by customers, who embraced the “Wow Guide” with open arms. Canadian Tire has successfully grown far beyond, well, tires (and other automotive supplies), and many Canadians visit the retailer for all manner of products. Coupled with high earnings – the company reported revenue of $3.4 billion in its second quarter of 2017 – Canadian Tire continues to be a giant on Canada’s retail landscape.
As the movie industry looks for ways to keep the public coming to theatres instead of just streaming their entertainment at home, IMAX’s giant screens are about as close to a magic bullet as Hollywood has found. As 3D has failed to capture the moviegoing public’s imagination the way the big studios had hoped, Canada’s IMAX has emerged as the pre-eminent prestige filmgoing experience. (Most or all of the top-grossing films of the past few years have been released in the IMAX format.) Currently there are more than 1,200 IMAX theatres in 75 countries, and the company’s third-quarter revenues hit $98.8 million. Not bad for a Canadian company that started in the 1970s with the wacky idea of showing documentaries on unthinkably huge screens.
The Canadian athletic apparel maker initially rode the yoga boom to massive success, but Lululemon Athletica has managed to remain relevant despite the changes in the industry. The house that yoga pants built has expanded to a wider consumer base (including men’s apparel), and it continues to reflect in Lululemon’s bottom line. The company managed to survive controversial founder Chip Wilson, who made headlines for, among other things, asserting that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for” Luluemon’s products (he’s been gone since 2013). Staying on the cutting edge of the athletic apparel wave, the Vancouver-based clothing manufacturer recently reported Q2 revenue of $581.1 million, a year-over-year jump of 13%, and the brand continues to be as strong in the US and abroad as it is in its home and native land.
Justin Anderson | The Edge Blog