Branding in Canada: The Challenge of Diversity Marketing

In July 2018, the Toronto Star published a public interest story about a Toronto school where the kindergarten students speak 40 different languages. That’s right, forty. It stopped me in my tracks; not just as a Canadian who takes pride in our diversity, but as someone who advocates the importance of building and maintaining powerful business brands.

A multicultural approach is necessary as shared identity has become part of our DNA.

As Canadians, we’re celebrated across the globe for being open, welcoming, polite, egalitarian and … well, nice (how very Canadian). For the most part, Canadians have come to take diversity for granted – no longer just in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, but right across the country. Consequently, we’re not bi-lingual; we’re multi-lingual. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Stop and think about that school for a moment: 40 different languages. 40 unique cultures being lived at home. A total of 630 youngsters, all of them embracing Canada while viewing their world (and making sense of it) through 40 different lenses. The fact that close to 1 in 5 Canadians (these children included) has a disability adds to the diversity of our population.

As an executive who, for many years, was concerned with ensuring that brands translated well into only English and French, I’m struck by what a profound new challenge diversity marketing presents to clients. It’s not enough for us to acknowledge diversity. We need to think about what it really means for our products and services, the customer experience.

Does Your Marketing Address the Values of a Diverse Audience?

At Level5, we believe that successful, branded organizations – the ones that stand apart from their competitors – understand that a brand is ‘the value of a promise consistently kept.’ That is, they understand what really drives value in their marketplace; they make a powerful promise to their customers based on an understanding of what they value; and they operationalize that promise with a consistent, customer experience – from sales to supply chain.

But in today’s world we need to understand and distill hundreds of value drivers down to just a few within the context of a widely diverse market of different languages, cultures, values, generations and attitudes. That’s why, at Level5, we stress the importance of taking a multicultural approach when building a brand strategy and delivering a valuable customer experience.

Our BrandMap™ tells us there are 96 human emotions, 186 personality types, and scores of rational reasons to embrace or reject a brand. Choose the wrong set of value drivers to base your brand promise on and you’ve wasted your marketing dollars and misdirected your organization. A huge cost and missed opportunity.

Get it right, however, and you can position your brand for long-term success and capture more loyal customers. 

So ask yourself this:

How well do you know your ‘Canadian’ customers?

Do you have a clear understanding of how they perceive you versus your competitors and does your brand make a compelling promise to your customers that transcends individual needs and attitudes? Do you (and your employees) understand, on a deep, emotional level, what really matters to consumers and what this means for the customer experience you engineer for them?

If not, get on it, and quickly. It won’t be long before those 630 students are making brand decisions of their own.

The team at Level 5 Strategy is at the forefront of diversity marketing in Canada. Learn more by contacting us today.


By: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

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