Who’s Hot and Who’s Not? New Study Ranks Most Influential Canadian Brands


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For many of us in the creative industry, lists are more than mere rankings – they are food for thought. And the yearly study by Ipsos Reid and ICA feeds our appetite by revealing the most influential brands. The study added to its menu this year, by expanding its footprint from Canada to beyond.

First, it’s important to put a meaning behind the term “brand influence.” To quantify, the study identified five areas of focus:

  • Trustworthy
  • Engagement
  • Leading Edge
  • Presence
  • Corporate Citizenship

To me, brand influence is simple: Does it change my perception of a product based on the brand name? For example, if a brand creates a new product, would I trust it? And could it influence a buying decision or charitable decision?

Tim Horton’s – The Good

Topping the list of Canadian brands this year is the ever-familiar Tim Horton’s. And I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps the underlying factor is the trustworthiness, earned through 50 years of consistency. This brand is one that every Canadian can relate to in some way or another, and even elicits some pride.

To remain consistent, Tim Horton’s has also proved resilient. There’s been a barrage of competitors in the coffee business – obviously Starbucks and more recently, McDonald’s foray into the brewing world. Timmy’s didn’t roll over. The company innovated by creating new product offerings like espresso specialty drinks and the Tasimo home-brewed Tim Horton’s line.

And the brand has been hard working. You may have seen the 30 to 35 commercials Tim Horton’s aired over the past year, or the product placement in shows like How I Met Your Mother, Homeland, or even in Oscar-worthy movies like Zero Dark Thirty. And if Tim’s is the quintessential Canadian brand, then what better way to represent Canada than by having a great work ethic?

Blackberry – The Bad?

A significant drop on the Canadian list is that of Blackberry from 14 to 22. Blackberry has been the darling of the Canadian business culture for the last 15 years, and given the market struggles, the drop should not be a surprise. In terms of the leading-edge criteria, it’s been more than a year since Blackberry launched an innovative product, which directly speaks to engagement and presence, or lack thereof. And considering the last major launch of the Playbook was a failure, expectations haven’t exactly been high for the future of the once-charmed brand.

The release of the q10 and z10 is a step in the right direction to stage a comeback. With mounting pressure, Blackberry launched the new products, or at least announced the upcoming launches just ahead of the Super Bowl, using the big game to introduce their new advertising platforms. In my opinion, the commercial shown during the game was satisfactory, but it was up against the best entertaining advertising that the industry produces.

But, subsequent spots have done a really great job with energetic creative, optimistic music and creating desire in the product. This advertising formula is taken directly from the Apple playbook, (or should I say Apple iPad-book), but at least they did it well. The phone and its great features are what matter, so kudos to Blackberry for focusing on that.

Google – The Best

Maybe not surprisingly, Google ranks as the most influential brand in Canada AND across the world. Those five criteria I mentioned before? Google easily ticks each box. As a brand, it’s hard to think of one that’s been more transformational. Google changed the Internet and has turned the advertising world upside down, while continually innovating and engaging users.

The nature of the business, however, speaks most to trustworthiness. Google has one advantage over most other brands – it is free to consumers. And not only is it free, but it provides its users valuable information. With that formula, how can Google not be loved? On top of all that, Google has produced some of the best advertising from a re-imagining of the “Buy The World a Coke” to the profound and heartfelt “Dear Sophie”.

John Yorke
John Yorke is President of Rain Forty 3, a creative agency dedicated to producing work that makes brands famous. A globally recognized expert on media and marketing, John shares his insights as host of Money and Marketing, a weekly segment that airs Friday mornings on BNN.


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