Retailers in Canada Score Strongly in ‘Most Valuable Brands’ Study: Interview

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Brand Finance Canada’s latest report indicates RBC is the country’s most valuable brand while Scotiabank is the nation’s strongest brand.

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. It was set up in 1996 with the aim of bridging the gap between marketing and finance.

David Haigh

In its 2022 report, David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance, said the purpose of a strong brand is to attract customers, to build loyalty, to motivate staff.

“All true, but for a commercial brand at least, the first answer must always be ‘to make money’. Huge investments are made in the design, launch, and ongoing promotion of brands. Given their potential financial value, this makes sense. Unfortunately, most organizations fail to go beyond that, missing huge opportunities to effectively make use of what are often their most important assets. Monitoring of brand performance should be the next step, but is often sporadic,” he said.

“Where it does take place, it frequently lacks financial rigour and is heavily reliant on qualitative measures, poorly understood by non-marketers. As a result, marketing teams struggle to communicate the value of their work and boards then underestimate the significance of their brands to the business. Skeptical finance teams, unconvinced by what they perceive as marketing mumbo jumbo, may fail to agree on necessary investments. What marketing spend there is, can end up poorly directed as marketers are left to operate with insufficient financial guidance or accountability. The end result can be a slow but steady downward spiral of poor communication, wasted resources, and a negative impact on the bottom line.”

The most valuable Canadian brands of 2022 (Image: Brand Finance)

In its report, the Top 10 Most Valuable Brands in Canada were:

  1. RBC
  2. TD
  3. Scotiabank
  4. Canada Life
  5. BMO
  6. Circle K
  7. CIBC
  8. Telus
  9. Brookfield
  10. 10.Bell
Charles Scarlett-Smith

“The top 10 has traditionally been dominated by the big banks and telcos. Incidentally, these are the kind of brands we would expect to see at the top of a ranking in a developing economy, rather than mature economy. Tech sector brands are still notably missing at the top of the table, but with the current trends in the sector, we will likely see Shopify and Constellation Software vying for the top 10 in the near future,” said Charles Scarlett-Smith, Director of Brand Finance Canada.

“The dominance of the banking system is really telling. The Canadian financial sector really punches above its weight. What’s been interesting though in the last couple of years is seeing how Circle K with its new brand strategy has really synthesized their brand messaging.”

Three years ago, Alimentation Couche-Tard began the mammoth project of rebranding their large global portfolio of brands under the Circle K global masterbrand. Circle K is now part of the fabric of the Canadian landscape, except for in Quebec, where the winking Owl and Couche-Tard nomenclature remains. Blue and red is gone now though in favour of red and orange; we are curious to see if Quebecers noticed, said the report.

The report said the list of most valuable brands reflects the Canadian economy generally: low-risk, conservative, and effective. 

“These traits have historically been a safeguard against economic crises; however, the pandemic has put forward a unique set of challenges for Canadian brands. Brands have been required to constantly adapt to shifting pandemic response policies. This manifested as a blessing in disguise for some sectors, and a quagmire of cutbacks and logistics for others. The typically reliable Canada Top 100 has never been more dynamic,” said the report. “There is also some light at the end of the tunnel. From 2020 to 2021, the aggregate value of the Top 100 Canadian brands fell by one per cent. It was the first time that the brand economy decreased in value since we began our study. This year, we are happy to report that Canadian brands are back in the green, having grown in value by an average of 22 per cent. Canadian brands (for the most part) are bouncing back.”

RBC (brand value up 13 per cent to CA$23.5 billion) has regained the top spot as the most valuable brand in Canada after falling second to TD in 2020 (brand value up three per cent to $21.7 billion). RBC and Scotiabank are the only two banking brands that have seen double digit growth since 2020. 

Scotiabank in Downtown Toronto (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
The Top 10 Strongest Canadian brands of 2022 (Image: Brand Finance)

The Top 10 Strongest Canadian Brands were:

  1. Scotiabank
  2. A&W
  3. WestJet
  4. Canadian Tire
  5. TD
  6. Tim Hortons
  7. Canada Life
  8. Winners
  9. Crown Royal
  10. 10.Maple Leaf

Scarlett-Smith said a brand’s strength is determined through a balanced scorecard exercise, where brands are benchmarked and indexed against their competitors on over 30 different brand strength related metrics. Metrics in the BSI range from the amount businesses invest in their brands, to stakeholder equity metrics (momentum, awareness, familiarity, recommendation etc…), to the price premium a brand can command compared to its peers. 

“For the first time in three years, Crown Royal is not the strongest brand in the table. The strongest brand is Scotiabank with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 85.8 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA rating. The strength of the Scotiabank brand has increased by an impressive 6.9 points since the start of the pandemic, the most of any banking brand in Canada. Scotiabank’s brand strength growth is largely down to increased recommendation and NPS (Net Promoter Score), where the bank vastly outperforms its competitors,” said the report.

“The recent announcement (by Canadian Tire) of a $3.4 billion investment strategy, with a focus on building out its ‘Owned Brands’ products and offerings, signals an exciting future for the retailer and its portfolio of sub brands.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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