5 Key Marketing Lessons from the Most Iconic Canadian Brands
You don’t have to hop the border to see great marketing in action. In the spirit of #Canada150, let’s show some true patriot love for our most iconic Canadian brands!
44 years ago, a small leather goods store sprouted up in Toronto. Its line of comfortable, durable clothing caught on with Canadians who love the outdoors.
Today, there are over 200 Roots stores all around the world.
From its iconic beaver logo to its rustic store design, Roots capitalizes on our reverence for the Canadian wilderness. When we think Roots, we think nature. And when we think of nature-ready clothing, Roots is the first brand that comes to mind.
With so many distinctive cultures, it can be hard to pin down what it means to be Canadian. Roots succeeds by tapping into something that transcends cultural and generational lines: love for the great outdoors.
Hudson’s Bay Company
Hudson’s Bay Company holds the title of Canada’s oldest company, but the modern Bay bears little resemblance to the bygone fur-trading empire. The company dabbled in everything from fur to transportation to oil exploration before it finally settled on retail in the 20th century.
The retail face of Hudson’s Bay has evolved as well. When it broke ground in Quebec in 1965, the HBC gave its stores a trendy new title: The Bay/La Baie. The company later refreshed its brand and reclaimed the original name.
Throughout its incarnations, Hudson’s Bay has maintained an iconic brand identity. People immediately recognize the name and the four-colour stripe pattern (known as the HBC Point Blanket) as a symbol of quality. Hudson’s Bay has held its place as other large department stores struggle in tough economic times.
When times change, Hudson’s Bay changes with it. The original Canadian company owes its longevity to its ability to adapt without compromising on core values.
Surprised? You’re not alone. Aldo is iconic, but many shoppers don’t realize their favourite shoe store is Canadian.
Aldo was fashioned from the remnants of Le Chateâu’s shoe division. Its key to success was bringing trends to its shelves before its competitors could. Its founder set out to capture the latest in street styles in record time. Now, Aldo has 2,000 stores in more than 55 countries.
Aldo sells itself as a global brand, and its social feeds feature photos of trendsetters from around the world. This has paid off to the tune of millions of followers on Facebook and Instagram. Its success proves Canadian brands don’t have to fly the flag to stand out in the world marketplace.
As the story goes, John Molson was committed to “brewing the best beer in the world for the people of Canada.” We could argue about the merits of his brew all night, but one thing’s for sure: Molson knows the Canadian people.
Molson first launched its “I Am Canadian” campaign in 1995. Canadians aren’t prone to self-promotion, but when Molson made the declaration a retort to Canadian stereotypes, it was a hit.
“I Am Canadian” has been the heart of Molson’s marketing ever since. Molson has since incorporated theme into mountains of merchandise and viral video campaigns.
We love brands that help us define our Canadian identity. Molson has leveraged this to build an incredibly loyal following.
Let’s face it: we can’t talk Canadian brands without mentioning Tim Hortons. Canada’s most trusted brand is so prevalent in our communities and culture that it’s practically a part of Canada itself.
It didn’t get there by accident. Though it has changed corporate hands over the years, Tim Hortons has always maintained a clear and consistent identity. Its advertising appeals to nostalgia and family values, and small communities embrace Tim Hortons for its sponsorship of sports teams and fundraising for local causes.
The Tim Hortons of today is the same one we stopped by for Timbits after hockey practice. It owes its success to the generations of good will it has built with Canadians.