The federal government will soon be asking for input on the best way to market Canadian goods. Included in this week’s budget was a new project designed to enhance “consumer awareness of Canadian-made products.” Canada will be following the lead of other countries, such as Australia, which have used their national brand to compete in export markets. The idea: “Branding products ‘Made in Canada’ is a potentially powerful tool to encourage consumers – both in Canada and internationally – to choose such products.”
So, how do you sell consumers both here and abroad with “made in Canada” marketing? We asked some Canadian experts to weigh in on how to design our national brand.
No maple, moose, or mounties
“[It] needs to avoid the stereotypical Canadian 3Ms – Maple, moose and mounties. The deeper story can be found within what Canada represents in the global community. Canada is increasingly well-regarded around the world. This is about adding a premium component to the product. We should drop the apologetic, unassuming Canadian voice and tell a story of progress through fresh and modern visual language.”
– Vito Piazza, president and partner at Sid Lee Toronto
Forget the logo, send a message
“It’s interesting to see everything that comes up [in a quick Google search, for example] that you can do visually with the Made in Canada concept. … I think it would be wiser to tend towards a state of mind, more than a simple logo. More of a way of thinking and buying. A logo doesn’t change anything if the brand’s promise is not understood. I would tend more towards something in the lines of Think Canada – more than a logo, it should be a motto that would accompany the products. Something to inspire people to get to know the products, to understand the history and then to buy Canadian.”
– Claude Auchu, partner, vice-president and creative director of design at Montreal agency lg2.
Don’t get stuck with one image
“One of the things I would argue for, if I had the ear of the government, would be to make the Canadian brand, as expressed through this platform, really dynamic. The brand should feel forward-looking. One of the things you see on these types of projects – the Australia one and the U.S. counterpart – they’re fairly uninspired. They tend to fall back on historic or nationalistic themes or colour palettes, as opposed to 21st-century themes. I would use this brand initiative as a platform to showcase all the really innovative things that are happening here, as opposed to having a really static design. So there’s not a single logo of the Made in Canada brand, but a kind of system of logos. It should have unified messaging of course, but one way to express dynamic institutions is to use variability or difference within how the visual identity is expressed, as opposed to a stamp “Made in Canada.” If we’re talking about it being the same thing on a rail car and learning software being used in leading universities, that forces the question: Does the same branding apply to both things? You may be talking to different audiences. You want flexibility.”
– Hunter Tura, president and chief executive officer of Bruce Mau Design in Toronto.