DES: Having dropped from 7th to 12th on the World Tourism Organisation's destination league table, Canada urgently needs to re-brand itself if it is to regain its Top Ten status - a position it thoroughly deserves.
TINA: But sadly, what one deserves isn't necessarily what one actually gets in this hyper-competitive marketplace.
DES: It's time for Canada to find and build a new brand identity to catapult itself back up the destination league table.
TINA: And slogos based on concepts such as 'Nature' and 'Exploring' are just not powerful enough in our modern, over-communicated era, despite huge market research investments in qualitative and quantitative studies around the globe. There are simply too many destinations asking prospects to 'explore their natural landscapes.'
DES: OK Tina, let's see if we can make a positive contribution to the great Brand Canada identity debate?
TINA: One of the crucial cultural issues to consider is that Brand America casts a wide shadow over much of Canadian life, so much so that many Canadians when travelling abroad, plaster their luggage and clothing with maple leaf badges in order to avoid being mistaken for an American.
DES: Trying to grow in someone else's shadow is always going to be a struggle particularly when Canada, historically, rejected the American Revolution and turned back armed invasions from the south at several crucial moments in north American history.
TINA: Even today, when pronouncing the last letter of the alphabet, Canadians say 'zed' - the English way - and not the American 'zee'.
DES: The next burning issue is Canada's geographic paradox. Is it a vast, empty land or a dynamic post-modern nation? Is it a land of great wild-scapes or a land of shining towers and hermetically-sealed shopping plazas?
TINA: It is clearly both and it is neither.
DES: But above all, Canada is a nation of many cultures - and it's not just the Aboriginal peoples or the French and the British. In fact over 40% of Canadians claim their origins from places other than France and Britain - the so-called hyphenated-Canadians: Chinese-Canadians, Italian-Canadians, Asian-Canadians, African-Canadians, Ukrainian-Canadians, German-Canadians and so on and on.
TINA: So although Canada is often perceived in the modern era to have a binary cultural code of French and British, in reality it is embedded with a multiple cultural code.
DES: And unlike America, where the tendency is to assimilate its immigrants into its so-called Melting Pot - by living the 'American Dream' in the 'Land of the Free' - Canada does the opposite. It encourages its immigrants to retain their original cultures alongside the Canadian way of life - the so-called Mosaic.
TINA: Witness how Canada has managed to keep the French-Canadians on-board despite sustained attempts by the Quebecois to separate.
DES: And ofcourse Canada was the first country in the world, in 1985, to pass a national multi-cultural act. And the first to establish a federal department of multi-culturalism.
TINA: Canada is the natural world leader to deal with the global multi-cultural issues affecting many countries - from France, to Spain, to Britain, to Germany, to Australia - with many more nations needing inspirational leadership in the very near future.
DES: From the shadows of Brand America: The Melting Pot, emerges Brand Canada: The Mosaic - The World's Leading Multi-Cultural Nation.
TINA: And to the famous 4M icons of Canada - Mountains, Moose, Mounties & Maple (Leaf) - we can now add a fifth M: Mosaic (see Footnote).
'Brand' the Marketect says:
"Leverage your primary competitor's strength and turn it to your own advantage."
Some Canadians argue that a sixth M should be added to the list of Canada's icons: Molson, Canada's oldest surviving beer-brewing company. For Molson to become a global iconic brand (amazingly for a G7 economy, there are no Canadian product or service brands in the 100 Best Global Brands), the beer brand needs to co-brand with its country-of-origin's multi-cultural mosaic as an integral part of a cultural branding strategy. (Molson's I Am Canadian advertising and PR campaign was a good first step).
To build on its cultural branding strategy, the beer brand now needs, for example, to embark on a co-branded Molson-Canadian Tourism Commission campaign by opening a flagship store - The Mosaic - in Germany, home of the world's greatest travellers, starting in Munich in Bavaria, home of the world's greatest beer festival - Oktoberfest. It just so happens, that Molson sells a beer branded Bavaria and that the world's second-biggest beer festival is held in Canada - in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo - which magically gets transformed into a Little Bavaria.