As we approach the end of the week when we celebrated Canada’s 148th birthday, as a British ex-pat, it’s warming to me to witness the unashamed, and well-justified patriotism of the Canadian people. Their clear sense of pride in being Canadian does not manifest itself as brash or over-the-top; it’s not arrogant or repellent – it’s genuine, heart-felt and respectful – Canada is quietly confident. Canadian’s know they have something special here – that Canada is ‘cool’! Is this, then, the Canadian brand?
As someone relatively new to Canadian life – I moved here with my family just over one year ago – I can only provide you with my perspective. Growing up in Britain through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, Canada was always the quiet, conservative and, dare I say it, a little boring, neighbour of the brash and capitalist USA. ‘Outdoorsy’ with their log cabins. grizzly bears, moose and lots of trees – if Canada was a person, they would be robust, red-cheeked, athletic and a bit of a geek!
However, over the last 20 years, Canada’s conservative image has blossomed to become the envy of many countries across the world. People would tell us how much they envied us when we would tell them about our impending Canadian emigration – and it was more about us moving to such an aspirational country rather than us ‘escaping’ British life.
As the second largest country in the world, it is now being recognized as such and it hasn’t had to throw its weight around to achieve this – it’s all happened because Canada is not afraid to just be itself. As the host of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, Canadians had the opportunity to showcase the true spirit of Canada. We experienced a small hint of what it must be like to live in such a big and beautiful country. Following this, the revelation that, unlike so many other countries, Canada was not part of the financial recession which hit us Brits so hard – Canada was doing just fine thank you very much! So fine in fact, that the Bank of England enlisted the expertise of Canadian Mark Carney as their new Governor, building more credibility for Canada’s ‘brand’!
In recent years a plethora of other famous Canadians from the world of entertainment, such as Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Shania Twain, Celine Dion have also become household names, not only in Britain, but the world over. So whether it’s to entertain us or save a country from financial ruin, there is a Canadian to suit any occasion – perhaps that should be the Canadian brand strap line!
Yes, if Canada was a company, I’d like to shake its Brand Manager by the hand. From its iconic flag (logo) to its brand ethos and voice, the Canadian brand message is effortlessly emulated through the warmth, positivity, helpfulness, humanity, energy and authenticity of the Canadian people. The Canadian brand is thriving in a world that increasingly demands these attributes of their brands.
In the brash and capitalist 80’s, the USA reigned supreme – it appears now it is time for the ‘nicer North’ brand to shine!