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!

Roots

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.

Roots Flag

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.

Aldo

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.

Molson Canadian

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.

Tim Hortons

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.

Tim Hortons Marketing

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.

 

 

Images: Roots

Canadify

3 ~Biggest~ Social Media Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Social media is public. This means your brand is always on watch, and a small mistake can make a big impact.

Let’s get to it – here are the top social media mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

  1. Being Tone-Deaf

Being tone-deaf in the land of social media means being out-of-touch and unaware of top trending conversations. By ignoring social tones, you could engage (or in some cases, not engage) with sensitive content, and in the process, affect your brand image.

An example of this would be the United Airlines incident. A passenger that was dragged off a flight was caught on camera, and the video got posted online. It went viral on social media almost immediately.

At first, United refused to apologize. But once they began listening to various social dialogues, they came to the realization that they indeed needed to apologize – right away and with the right tone – to save their brand. But was it too late?

The incident happened on April 9, 2017, and the apology came two days later on April 11, 2017.

 

How to avoid this mistake: Social listening! Listen to what your customers are saying about you, and make sure you follow trends so you’re aware of noteworthy news. Check out the Explore pages on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and get to know what’s happening in the world by checking out Google Trends.

 

  1. Not Posting Often Enough

Social media was invented to prevent people from being forgotten. It allows your brand to be top of mind, as your updates consistently remind users that your company is active and in the know. You can do this by sharing updates, posting photos, and staying in touch with people who you might not know personally, but are still crucial to your market. If your brand has a social media page, take advantage of this open opportunity.

Here’s how often you should post:

  • LinkedIn: 5 times a week (Monday – Friday). Avoid weekends, as they are proven to be a slow time for this primarily business-based platform.
  • Twitter: 2-3 times a day. The average lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes, so post at various times to make sure your users are seeing your content. Feel free to post the same content again and again throughout the week – this will allow you to gain insight on when your users are most engaged.
  • Facebook: 1-2 times a day. As Facebook’s algorithm changes, the reach of your posts may not be consistent. It takes about two hours for it to reach its capacity, so make sure you are posting on a regular schedule.
  • Instagram: 4-5 times a week. You want to build a consistent feed, but not overwhelm your followers. Over-posting can drop your engagement, and 4-5 times a week hits the sweet spot.

Not posting often means missing the opportunity to connect with your biggest fans and keep them updated on your latest product launches, brand announcements, and job opportunities.

How to avoid this mistake: If you can do it in-house, spend at least 2-3 hours a day curating and creating content you think your followers will love. Create engaging posts that follow your brand voice, and highlight your business’s best benefits.

If you’ve hired an agency, have them spend the time getting to know your brand and provide you with a content calendar laying out how often a post will be published.

 (Ps. Looking for a little help? Check out What We Do.)

  1. Untimely Humour

 Everyone has a voice on social media. Your goal should be to start conversations and engage your users without hurting your brand image. Sometimes, the easiest way of doing this is by participating in hashtag trends to “humanize” your brand. But be careful – not everything is an opportunity for humour.

In 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending. Without context, it seemed straight forward. But with context, the hashtag was actually a discussion about domestic violence. Unfortunately for DiGiorno Pizza, they didn’t do their research:

How to avoid this mistake: Do your research! And if you’re unsure about a post, run it by at least two other people before pressing publish. This will give you insight into whether your post is appropriate or out-of-touch.

 

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