#Interbrand150 — The 150 Iconic Brands That Shaped Canada


Interbrand Canada Canada150 Iconic Canadian Brands

July 1 marks a momentous day in Canada, the high point of a momentous year as the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada. This occurred when the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

As Interbrand Canada Managing Director Carolyn Ray noted about the nation’s sesquicentennial, “2017 has been filled with #Canada150 activities designed to celebrate our diversity and encourage inclusion; establish a spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; and discover Canada’s natural beauty and strengthen our environmental awareness. On our birthday on Saturday, July 1, it’s fair to say that Canadians will be celebrating from coast to coast!”

What better way for Interbrand to mark the occasion than to pay tribute to Canada’s iconic brands, as selected by its own Canadian branding experts in partnership with the public. Interbrand Canada has been collecting nominations for Canada’s 150 most iconic brands for the past few months to come up with a list that was announced today by The Globe and Mail, Canada’s oldest national newspaper and its biggest business media brand.

“Brands become iconic when they build an emotional connection with people’s values and beliefs,” Ray commented. “When we asked Canadians about the brands that have shaped and defined their lives, we heard wonderful stories that convey their deep personal connections with these brands, and reinforce their pride in being Canadian.”

“We thought #Canada150 was a great opportunity to recognize the vital impact that Canadian brands have had on our history and our future, so we’ve launched a very special report called ‘Interbrand 150 Iconic Canadian Brands: Our Time to Grow.’” Ray observed.

“Compiled by our team in Toronto and supplemented by submissions from across the country, this report analyzes 150 brands, both past and present, that make us authentically Canadian. To be more inclusive, we also included associations, non-profits and private firms.”

The resulting list contains a few surprises. “Some of these pre-date our country’s 1867 confederation, like the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and Molson. Others may not exist anymore, like the Montreal Expos,” Ray pointed out. “And while many of you know the origins of Tim Hortons or Canada Goose, you may not know that IMAX, Arc’teryx, or the Ski-doo are in fact Canadian brands. Surprise!”

The report can be found on the new Interbrand Canada website at Interbrand.ca. You’re invited to join in the dialogue on social media—share your stories about your iconic Canadian brands, using the hashtag #Interbrand150.

“If you happen to know a Canadian, please send them a congratulatory note!” Ray added. “They may respond that they’re enjoying a double-double and some beavertails, or trying to find their toque under a two-four, but not to worry. That just means we’re having a great time!”

The results, interestingly, found many brands fit into three main categories: innovators and entrepreneurs (such as Bombardier, BlackBerry and Roots); nation-builders (such as CP, CN and Parks Canada) and experience-shapers (such as TIFF, BeaverTails and the Terry Fox Foundation, started by the curly-haired young man whose cross-country run to raise money and awareness for cancer research—after losing his leg to bone cancer at age 18—continues to inspire).

Most have an average age of 85 years, with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Canada Post and the North West Company having the longest tenure (since 1670, 1763, and 1779 respectively).

Names range from the familiar—TD, Telus, Tim Hortons, WestJet, Molson—to nostalgic (Sam the Record Man, Avro Canada and Woodward’s) to newer brands (Shopify, Porter Airlines, VICE).

This past spring, Interbrand asked the public to nominate the Canadian brands they considered iconic and share personal stories, then pushed that data through a methodology focused on clarity, authenticity and engagement.

“We are sure that this list will generate passionate discussion, and we tried to be as inclusive as possible,” Ray stated. “The report is really meant to be a platform to not only celebrate the history of Canada but also understand the role that brands play in shaping our future.”

Interbrand Canada cites Hudson’s Bay Company, still known for its colorful striped blanket design, as an example of an iconic Canadian brand — “one that, in its own way, authentically becomes part of the country’s fabric. It can be new, old, or out of business. It can be for- or non-profit. Serious or fun. National or local. But it must have achieved significant growth and impacted the Canadian experience in a significant way.”

Interbrand parent Omnicom expanded to Canada in 2000 by acquiring Tudhope Associates in Toronto, a strategic design agency with clients including Hershey Foods, Royal Bank of Canada and UPS. Throughout Canada 150, Interbrand is asking Canadians to be part of the celebration by sharing personal experiences with brands via hashtag #Interbrand150.