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Lululemon yoga mats are seen at the retailer’s Yorkville store in Toronto. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Lululemon yoga mats are seen at the retailer’s Yorkville store in Toronto. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

Canada's Top 50 brands Add to ...

You’ve only had to watch Apple’s awesome ascent over the past decade to understand how powerful a brand can be. But the word “brand” is often misunderstood. It’s much more than a logo; it’s a total approach to doing business. That’s just one of many insights we gained working with London-based Brand Finance, the leading global brand valuation firm, and its partner, Toronto-based Level5 Strategy Group, to prepare our first annual ranking of the Top 50 Canadian Brands

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Brand is the value of a promise consistently kept

That’s how Brand Finance and Level5 boil down the concept of brand into a sentence. There are three key elements in that definition.

Value Brand Finance and Level5 can calculate the dollar value of a company’s brand quite precisely, even using just public financial data if the company does not provide internal data. Describing the process as simply as we can, the firms extrapolate a company’s annual cash-flow years into the future and determine the portion of that stream that stems from the brand. The brand portion is then converted into a current lump-sum value. Think of that as the fee you’d pay for exclusive rights to license the brand from the company for many years.

The concept of brand value is gaining currency among accountants. It is now getting its own line as an intangible asset on many companies’ balance sheets. New International Financial Reporting Standards in force in Europe and Canada require a brand value when accounting for mergers and acquisitions. Investors are also paying attention. Brand value can be the basis for a huge proportion of a company’s enterprise value—the total market value of its debt plus equity. In the case of Loblaws, No. 17 in our ranking (page 29), its brand value represents 41% of its recent enterprise value of $5 billion.

Promise A brand also represents commitments that a company makes to everyone it deals with—employees, customers, investors, governments and other stakeholders. When you go to a show by Cirque du Soleil or buy an i-anything from Apple, you have expectations (very high ones, in those two cases) of what the experience will be like, based on what the company has said and done in the past.

Consistently kept A brand is a business system, too—or it should be. It’s not something that only the marketing and communications departments need to cultivate. It’s a management tool that executives can use to set priorities and make decisions throughout the organization, and every employee needs to understand how he or she fits in.


Developing TD Bank’s comfortable approach took years of hard work

When TD Bank announced that it was acquiring Canada Trust for $8 billion in August, 1999, TD’s then-CEO Charles Baillie said the deal was “all about customers.” Baillie was talking about the importance of growing TD’s profitable retail business. At the time, however, the future looked virtual, and Canada’s big banks seemed to be determined to reduce their face-to-face dealings with actual people in branches and to steer them toward doing more business on the telephone and online.

As things turned out, Baillie was right that a renewed customer focus would prove to be decisive for the bank’s future, but perhaps not in the way he or any of TD’s other senior executives imagined.

“Right now it’s easy to say it was an opportunity, but at the time it didn’t necessarily feel that way. It felt like more of a challenge,” says Dominic Mercuri, TD Bank Group executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, and one of the architects of what turned out to be a long and sweeping rebranding process. “All decisions were big decisions.”

That process started with consumer research—a lot of it. Instead of hastily trying to market the merged institution based on brand characteristics that TD and Canada Trust shared, senior bankers decided to build a new brand based on how Canadians really wanted to bank.

Over the next two years, TD conducted hundreds of thousands of one-on-one interviews with its own customers and those of other banks. They discovered that a lot of people felt disconnected from their banks, and wanted a more comfortable way of doing business.

TD and Canada Trust executives then developed and implemented a brand identity based on personal service. Basically, they decided to invite clients back into branches and expand the range of services they could access there.

To communicate the new approach to customers and staff, marketers wanted a clear image. That, says Mercuri, is why they chose “the ultimate symbol of comfort and convenience”: a big easy chair.

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Top 50 Canadian Brands

Rank  Brand HQ Industry Rev.
% chg in
brand value
1 TD Bank Toronto Financial services 27,222 10,401 22
2 Royal Bank Of Canada Toronto Financial services 35,750 10,277 19
3 Scotiabank Toronto Financial services 26,730 7,036 23
4 Bank of Montreal Toronto Financial services 19,588 6,491 21
5 Bell Montreal Communications 17,554 5,539 5
6 CIBC Toronto Financial services 15,998 4,809 6
7 Rogers Toronto Communications 19,738 4,551 11
8 Enbridge Calgary Energy 18,882 4,171 -12
9 Bombardier Montreal Transportation 12,443 3,958 -6
10 George Weston Toronto Food 32,376 3,879 26
11 Telus Vancouver Communications 10,397 3,653 21
12 Manulife Toronto Financial services 50,983 3,302 1
13 Shaw Calgary Communications 4,898 3,061 -4
14 Canadian National Railway Montreal Transportation 9,429 2,890 8
15 Brookfield Office Properties Toronto Commercial real estate 3,364 2,329 11
16 McCain Foods Toronto Food 6,093 2,124 2
17 Loblaws Toronto Consumer 31,250 2,060 -4
18 BlackBerry (Research In Motion) Waterloo, Ont. Technology 18,456 2,042 -38
19 Canadian Tire Toronto Consumer 10,132 2,041 14
20 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix Toronto Consumer 10,458 1,968 2
21 Canadian Pacific Calgary Transportation 5,177 1,935 11
22 National Bank of Canada Montreal Financial services 6,016 1,849 11
23 PotashCorp Saskatoon Resources 9,127 1,830 -25
24 Petro-Canada Calgary Energy n/a 1,760 -4
25 Tim Hortons Oakville, Ont. Consumer 2,873 1,728 17
26 Lululemon Vancouver Consumer 1,000 1,692 25
27 Quebecor Montreal Communications 4,266 1,688 -4
28 Esso (Imperial Oil) Calgary Energy 30,714 1,627 -12
29 Great-West Lifeco Winnipeg Financial services 30,019 1,580 -4
30 Sun Life Toronto Financial services 22,979 1,578 7
31 Husky Energy Calgary Energy 24,774 1,549 -4
32 Saputo Montreal Food 6,026 1,530 -7
33 CGI Group Montreal Technology 4,334 1,509 16
34 Viterra Calgary Transportation 11,793 1,504 21
35 Desjardins Montreal Financial services 5,264 1,502 5
36 Ivanhoé Cambridge Montreal Commercial real estate 2,817 1,447 n/a
37 Barrick Gold Toronto Mining 14,662 1,435 -28
38 Intact Financial Toronto Financial services 5,487 1,409 -4
39 Gildan Activewear Montreal Consumer 1,726 1,280 41
40 Sobeys Stellarton, N.S. Food 15,770 1,251 14
41 Cadillac Fairview Toronto Commercial real estate n/a 1,155 n/a
42 Home Hardware St. Jacobs, Ont. Consumer n/a 1,149 -7
43 Bell Aliant Halifax Communications 2,945 1,138 12
44 Circle K (Couche-Tard) Montreal Consumer n/a 1,137 29
45 Canadian Utilities Calgary Gas 3,039 1,059 -3
46 Dollarama Montreal Consumer 1,603 1,035 34
47 TransCanada Calgary Energy 9,194 1,034 -30
48 Onex Toronto Diversified 24,674 1,032 -21
49 Cenovus Calgary Energy 16,664 1,020 -8
50 Teck Vancouver Resources 2,668 946 -2

Source: Level5 Strategy Group


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