There’s a great opportunity here for Canadian companies to exemplify excellence.
But there’s also a business equivalent to the maple leaf on the backpack—the Canadian brand. Wearing it proudly is one way to increase your company’s legitimacy in the global market.
“Being a Canadian company really does make a difference when you’re marketing yourself internationally,” said Kaoutar El Hilali, a Moroccan native who emigrated to Canada several years ago and now runs Glint Innovation, a Toronto-based software company.
Edgar Baum, CEO and chief brand economist at Strata Insights Inc., agrees.
“If Canadian businesses are able to provide products of similar quality to their competition, having the Canadian brand associated with it makes a difference,” says Baum. “There’s a great opportunity here for Canadian companies to exemplify excellence.”
He also feels that there are subtle but important business metrics that are implied by the Canadian identity of your company. “For example, it allows you to emphasize your ability to scale. We need to get out there and travel. Trade missions aren’t as important as they once were, because our brand is strong and we have the ability to go and tap into a domestic market.”
…Canada’s relative stability and its strong record on trade provide an advantage that helps Canadian companies succeed.
Another bonus of being a Canadian company is our country’s political and policy stability. “We’re in an era where whims and fancies can move faster than before,” says Baum. “For the most part, Canada’s relative stability and its strong record on trade provide an advantage that helps Canadian companies succeed.”
He added that Canada also boasts sector leadership in several areas. “There’s the artificial intelligence hub in Montreal, the e-commerce leadership coming out of Shopify and the fact that Toronto and Vancouver are major hotbeds for international companies with important offices in Canada. Given the uncertainty that’s going to be the state of affairs in the U.S. for quite some time, Canadian companies should go international and invite investment in Canada.”
Four ways to build your own brand with Brand Canada
“The wonderful thing about co-branding,” says Baum, “is that it enables two or three organizations to convey perceptual qualities that can provide a difference in the marketplace. Co-branding allows companies to take their local recognition and scale it up.”
Such co-branding can range from joining forces at trade shows with like-minded Canadian companies that have strong Canadian brands, to wearing clothing from an iconic Canadian clothier like Roots when selling your wares abroad.
EDC customers can also co-brand with EDC itself—the corporation has become a respected international brand because it not only helps Canadian companies export, it also holds events around the world and helps international companies purchase Canadian products. Because of this, Braun says, “EDC is a tool you can use as a Canadian exporter to gain legitimacy.”
2. Strike multinational partnerships
Shopify has done a good job of marketing itself internationally. But one of its big wins was its partnership with Amazon, whose mammoth global presence has put Shopify on an even broader map. Partnering with colleges and universities can also help you get access to international talent and resources that will help you scale up your business to the global level.
3. Leverage local strategic partners
The Team Canada trade missions of the Chrétien era have yet to be fully revived by the Trudeau government. But there are several other Canadian resources with global reach that can help you in overseas markets:
- The Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada has professionals who are trained to help you build your international brand.
- EDC’s sector experts are well versed in how Canadian companies should represent themselves abroad.
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada can help you identify markets and advise on marketing strategies.
- Many Canadian financial institutions work with their business customers to help them succeed globally.
- The Chambers of Commerce network across Canada can connect you to resources that will help you do business abroad.
4. Go abroad and use the media
Media attention will always improve your brand recognition locally. But now that the Internet allows people to access news from all over the world all the time, even local press can have a global presence. Big trade fairs and expositions are also good marketing opportunities that can help you build your brand and exploit the fact that your company is Canadian.
There’s that old piece of advice from Woody Allen where he said that 80 per cent of success is just showing up.
“There’s that old piece of advice from Woody Allen,” Baum observes, “where he said that 80 per cent of success is just showing up. By showing up, those Team Canada trade missions of years ago built a really great legacy.”