It’s all the buzz–at 142 years old, Canada is the “cool new” global brand.  The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games certainly put Canada centre stage, but beyond graciously talented athletes and fantastic Olympic logo-wear, it’s national pride that’s raised the bar on this country’s brand experience.

The momentum started with a 106-day Olympic torch relay driving a uniquely Canadian energy as it united people across the country.  And then, from Shane Koyczan’s “We Are More” poem at the Opening Ceremonies – where he spoke for Canadians and declared, “Some say that something that defines us is something as simple as please and thank-you” – to Sidney Crosby’s golden goal, the brand called Canada hosted a 17-day party for the world.

And the world bore witness to patriotism of epic proportion.

Turns out we’re not the Canada the world thought they knew.  From tragedy to record breaking achievement, the brand called Canada found its voice and declared it loudly, complete with uncharacteristic flag-waving and spontaneous outbursts of “Oh Canada”.

What makes the Canadian brand so engaging?

We’re perfectly imperfect.

  • When International media criticized us early in the Games, we pushed “ignore” and now we get to watch them back-peddle.
  • When our athletes drank beer in public celebration of winning Olympic Gold medals, we roared and raised a glass.
  • And we certainly don’t take ourselves too seriously.  When the fourth leg on the Olympic cauldron malfunctioned during the Opening Ceremonies, we had fun showing the world how we fixed it at the Closing Ceremonies… and when TV host Stephen Colbert called Canadians “syrup-sucking iceholes”, we laughed.


Endearing “Canadiana” aside, the already “strong and free” Canada has been galvanized and rebranded through the Olympics.  We’ve reinvigorated the Canadian brand experience through human experience – individual athlete stories and “slices of life” that connect with the world and ultimately, mean more than medal counts.  And it’s that brand equity that will shape Vancouver and Canada for years to come.

Tourism Vancouver President & CEO Rick Antonson summed it up today when he stated, “Right now, Canada is the world’s coolest brand.  We must treasure that, protect it, and use it for the immense good of our communities.”

SIDEBAR: I know in my last post I said I’d report back on my Molson Canadian Hockey House experience especially after the logistical nightmare and public back-lash they caused during the ticket-purchase process approaching the Olympics… but you know what?  Who cares.  Ultimately, it was Molson’s promoter Vision Companies behind the ticket glitch… and after we got “inside-the-tent”, the 65,000 square foot sea of red, rocking energy made it all go away.  Yes, the food sucked as did some of the big screen placements, but the service was good and the music and personalities were hugely entertaining.  As for Molson’s rousing, grass-roots “I AM CANADIAN” Olympic ad campaign?  Brilliant.

Image:  Vancouver’s Hotel Georgia project adorned with the largest Canadian flag ever made.