Monday, October 8, 2007

Brand Canada

Vancouver, False Creek for Bentall Investment Management LP. Photography: William P. Mcelligott

Brand today is a core practice in business and organizational strategy. Leading organizations and countries today have leveraged the power of brand.

Our focus has been design engagements for private and public accounts including national campaigns for the federal government. In Canada of course we design in English and French. Typical opportunities have far reaching distribution to all of the provinces and territories as well beyond Canada to other countries. Design for the federal government must include a number of prescriptive elements. Design must be inclusive representative and accessible. It must include the long standing Federal Identity Program design standards.

Some Federal organizations have unique style guides for their communications. This brings two prescriptive layers
FIP and agency look and feel. Within these frameworks room for design exists and the nature of the work can be quite exciting to manage and create.

One example of the many projects we have delivered was the Leadership Network business. This was a project that profiled federal employees across Canada. This product at the time was a brand-building tool for the government. The work had us meeting, interviewing and photographing people across this vast country. Coast to coast and in the North. We in turn published their profiles. The purpose of the magazine and online interface was essentially to provide an access guide that would define the heroics and leadership that exists within the nation's government. We're proud to be associated with the initiative and integral to bringing the product to its target audiences. This was an intelligent and thoughtful piece of work. The product served as a fabulous human resource tool that recognized individual contribution and demonstrated pride in the workplace. The designed information was useful for the countries internal brand building celebrating the success of a cross section of leaders. It was also a snapshot for external audiences profiling the diverse range of opportunities that exist working within the nation’s government. Prior to this engagement I had a limited understanding of the depth, range and presence of the federal governments operations nationally. This project like so many opportunities we have experienced was an eye opener. Our client engaged us to meet the wonderful people who play a vital role contributing towards making Canada an awesome place.

I believe a clear opportunity exists to form a design/brand centric office within the Federal organization. In Canada this would serve to celebrate innovation in the country as well take charge of our national brand. Not a small order yet it needs serious focus. We unfortunately have been trumped by countries who have far fewer attributes to offer yet are exerting their powerful identity frameworks and brand building strategies on both domestic and foreign audiences in turn driving their economies. The challenge in large organization is that disparate entities lack cohesian and brand management. Looking at the landscape internationally countries have aligned themselves around brand and now see the benefits of this focus and strategy. Canada has so much to celebrate that’s intrinsic to the Canadian identity we must assert what we’re doing on the international stage regarding our brand. Canada needs to join the ranks of other countries who have made important steps implementing programs and making investment in brand leadership.

Monocle this month has published relevant editorial on nation branding.

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