A brand is much more than a logo or a slogan; it’s a total approach to doing business. The successes and struggles of companies such as Lululemon, BlackBerry and Yellow Media over the past decade show how valuable a brand can be, and how quickly its value can shrink if you don’t nurture and renew it. Working again with the Toronto office of Brand Finance, the leading global brand consulting firm, we present our second annual ranking of Canada’s most valuable brands. Embedded in the list of 100 are some sure bets, as well as some surprising falls from grace (see the aforementioned Lululemon). This year, we’ve looked more closely at Canada’s leading corporations abroad—and how they translate their core brand promise into a formula with global appeal.
No. 3: Scotiabank
Canada’s Big Five banks have earned an international reputation as safe havens for your money. As if there were ever any doubt, the World Economic Forum announced last October, for the sixth consecutive year, that our banks are the soundest in the world. At home, we largely take them for granted and assume that one bank is pretty much the same as the next. But if you travel outside of Canada to any of the countries where the Big Five do business, it’s a very different story.
Through its long history of dealing with clients in the Caribbean and Latin America, Scotiabank has learned how to pay close attention to regional and cultural differences. “With regards to the brand, you distill it down to the simplest statement, and ours is that we like to be down-to-earth and approachable. So, in Canada, ‘You’re richer than you think’ is the most recognizable [banking] tagline in the country,” says John Doig, Scotiabank’s chief marketing officer. “But when you translate it into Spanish in Mexico, it doesn’t work. ‘Riches’ means something different.” Instead, Scotiabank uses the slogan “Discover what’s possible” in most of its Latin American markets.
Scotiabank operates in 55 countries, and 46% of its $6.7 billion in earnings in 2013 came from abroad. While Scotiabank looks outside North America for long-term growth, TD Bank has used its strong retail brand at home to establish a strong presence in the Eastern United States. TD believed that the same basic retail brand promise—a convenient and comfortable customer experience—would appeal to U.S. consumers. So, when TD bought New Jersey-based Commerce Bank for $8.5 billion (U.S.) in 2007, TD CEO Ed Clark called it “the TD Canada Trust of the United States.” In Canada, TD uses the tagline “Banking can be this comfortable” for its retail operations. In the U.S., TD’s tagline is “America’s most convenient bank.”
“We wanted an organization that looked and felt like TD,” says Dominic Mercuri, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at TD. “Commerce Bank had a similar type of brand experience as the one we had. There was a good fit and that wasn’t all by accident.” Mercuri adds that banks need to be sensitive and respectful enough to identify local differences even within foreign markets. “In New York City, we are open seven days a week,” he says. “But if you go down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you likely won’t find our stores open on Sunday. It’s easy to get to a place where you could say [banks] all offer the same thing—which is true. We all have similar product mixes, but we all deliver those products and services in a different and unique way.”
In comparison to Scotiabank and TD, Royal Bank—Canada’s largest bank—has had mixed results abroad in recent years. RBC has leveraged Canada’s international reputation for stability to become the sixth-largest global wealth manager and one of the top 15 investment banks in the world. Much of RBC’s strong growth in profits and in brand value is coming from its global capital markets and wealth management operations, and it has surpassed TD to reclaim the No. 1 spot in our brand rankings this year.