We are all familiar with corporate brands, focused on either products, services or the overall organization. Solid brands impact recognition, enhance reputation, promote loyalty, influence behaviour and foster engagement.
For instance, since the start of its Olympic partnership in 2013, Canadian Tire has met with great success with its ‘We all play for Canada’ platform “with heavy emphasis on the idea of inclusivity, play, and the importance of communities rallying together: values-based messaging about something that matters to us as a country.” Check out this moving video  about combining play and inclusion.
Brands are shaped by a complex set of interdependent factors such as values, vision, mission, strategy, culture, traditions, performance and aspirations. They evolve over time and fluctuate according to external factors like competitive pressures, and internal factors like crisis management: for instance, recalls in the pharmaceutical or auto industry can harm or restore a brand’s image, depending on how they are handled. In the spring of 2018, Facebook data harvesting and sharing scandal, resulted in a brand confidence breakdown, which prompted a worldwide conversation on strengthening privacy protection to safeguard democracy.
Countries also have brands. In the book Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, authors define nation branding as “the application of corporate marketing concepts and techniques to countries, in the interest of enhancing their reputation in international relations.”
National brands are crafted by design, or happen by accident:
- When deliberate, they seek to build and promote a country’s identity, manage its reputation, and increase its influence. When brand and actions align, national identity becomes sharper, and trust increases in both the country and its brand. However, when a country’s behaviour clashes with its brand, dissonance sets in, eroding trust and credibility.
- Meanwhile, accidental brands, not consciously driven by their country of origin, float around, lacking clarity and consistency, and are prone to tampering and takeovers.
 Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited. (2018, Feb 01). Canadian Tire Reminds Canadians that We All Play for Canada. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/canadian-tire-reminds-canadians-that-we-all-play-for-canada-672124153.html.
 Dallaire, J. (2018, January 23). Canadian Tire forges ahead with ‘We all play for Canada’. Strategy Magazine. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from http://strategyonline.ca/2018/01/23/canadian-tire-forges-ahead-with-we-all-play-for-canada/.
 Canadian Tire “Wheels”:60. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFuwUiHo-WI
 Understanding Facebook’s data crisis: 5 essential reads. (2018, April 5). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/understanding-facebooks-data-crisis-5-essential-reads-94066.
 Facebook is killing democracy with its personality profiling data. (2018, March 21). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/facebook-is-killing-democracy-with-its-personality-profiling-data-93611
 Pamment, James (2013). New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century A comparative study of policy and practice. New York: Routledge. p. 35-36.