I fear a former Clerk of the Privy Council is being rather delusional–and bureaucratic–in his hopes about, er, selling Canada to the world. I wonder how many Americans and other foreigners even know BlackBerries are made by a Canadian company (or Bombardier aircraft)? How many foreigners can identify any Canadian consumer product other than beer? And, as far as I can see, most large Canadian companies other than brewers (and they’re now foreign owned) actually try to not to mention that they are Canadian in their international advertising:
Canada’s brand advantage
Kevin Lynch, BMO Financial Group
Corporations and other organizations spend enormous energy on creating, managing and protecting their brands. Through their brands, companies can differentiate themselves in crowded, competitive marketplaces. Many universities, for example, invest considerably in brand recognition to attract students, philanthropy and faculty.
This raises a rather basic question: If brand reputation appears to add value for high-performing companies and institutions, why would they not be similarly valuable for countries. In short, does Canada need a brand?
A number of countries already spend considerable effort on branding efforts. Remember the “Cool Britannia” campaign. France brilliantly markets both high culture and high technology. Ireland as the “Celtic Tiger.” Singapore as a sophisticated, business friendly entrepot in Asia. Australia as an Asia-savvy, can-do partner. Israel as a high-tech centre…
With the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings being held in Canada later this month, the world’s spotlight will be on Canada. Now is the time to develop a strong Canada brand, organized around the rubric of public policy, endowments and characteristics.
First, Canada has strong public-policy brand potential, and this has increased in relative value as the world emerges from the financial crisis and recession. Canada’s financial sector has been rated the world’s soundest by the World Economic Forum. Canada’s fiscal position is by far the best among the G7 countries. Canada has established a substantial corporate tax advantage over the U.S. to attract and retain business investment. Immigration policies provide a growing labour force to counter demographic aging. And Canada has unique access to the North American marketplace through NAFTA [been that way long enough to have been noticed, one would think]. A strong public policy brand helps reduce investor uncertainty and influences corporate investment decisions…
What a load of bureaucratic codswallop! Imagine trying to market a “public policy brand”.
Meanwhile, what modern, high-tech, sophisticated Canada is the government promoting at the forthcoming G8/G20 summits? Lakes and cottage country. That’s what. Sure promoting a great brand to change the way most of the world looks at us.
Earlier on our brand problem at Daimnation!:
Would you buy a nuclear reactor from Mexico?