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On July 11, LEVEL5 Founder David Kincaid travelled thousands of miles and successfully conducted a cross-cultural business training for the senior executives at FAMSUN, the world’s second largest feed machinery company headquartered in Yangzhou, China.  This is the first business training completed in China by LEVEL5.  The focus of the training is to help FAMSUN manage the cross-cultural challenges to grow its global business profitably and sustainably.  Dave’s personal experience in building global brands across different markets was the key to this successful training program, which won praises among the FAMSUN executive teams.

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A recent University of Victoria survey found that Canadians trust homegrown brands the most when it comes to making purchase decisions. Yesterday, LEVEL5 Strategy Group partner Paul Brophy went on BNN to discuss the results. He also shared three key ingredients required for any business to consistently deliver on a brand promise and therefore successfully build trust with consumers. The brand promise ingredients include: being relevant to the consumer, differentiating from the competition and being ownable by the organization.

To learn more, check out the full BNN video here:

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At LEVEL5 Strategy Group, we are committed to helping our clients drive dramatic business results through the power of your brand. By successfully negotiating and managing strategic partnerships, organizations can increase profitability and win new business by leveraging the power of your brand as a business asset that can be measured for business growth on your P&L.

The launch of UP Express, a 25-minute air-rail link — connecting the City of Toronto’s downtown core from Union Station to Pearson International Airport — is a glowing example of a successfully executed strategic partnership from which the Ontario public sector, local businesses and international travelers stand to benefit. It also serves as an excellent case study on how businesses must align with other organizations around common needs, assets and opportunities to create unique and engaging customer value propositions.

But while the rewards of strategic brand partnerships can be great, is your business ready to take on higher risk and commit to long-term negotiations led by senior decision makers? And do you have a clearly defined brand strategy which will make it easier to agree with strategic partners on who your primary customers are and what brand attributes you share and want to amplify?

Click here to download our new whitepaper and discover smart, brave and action-able insights on how to explore, initiate, activate and nurture strategic partnerships from some of the founding team members responsible for helping to identify and broker the UP Express partnership deals.

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There is a new trend emerging in Ontario; government assets are being re-evaluated and re-packaged in a way that provides real opportunities for corporate Canada. Some examples include the privatization of Hydro One, the move to sell beer in Ontario grocery stores and recent UP Express partnerships with private organizations like CIBC, Rogers, Deloitte, and Cisco.

At LEVEL5 Strategy Group, we’ve walked a mile in the shoes of CEOs and stakeholders of public-private sector partnerships. In fact, many of us have been C-suite executives for some of the world’s largest brands. And because we have experience helping private sector executives to develop strategies and negotiate public sector partnerships, we’d like to share a tip sheet Engaging in Public-Private Sector Partnerships which outlines some important factors that CEOs must consider when engaging in a public-private partnership.

If you want to know more about how private organizations evaluate and negotiate public sector partnerships, keep an eye out for our whitepaper which will be published in a few weeks. To be notified when the whitepaper is live on our website, please follow us on LinkedIn, or send us an email to

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We are all brands.

What people feel about us is the essence of our brand. Successful brands understand this. Trust, care and compassion all lead to forgiveness and sustainability of customer loyalty. Companies like J&J, Amazon, McDonald’s and Apple are a few that understand this power. Some that have not got it right yet include BP and Exxon.

I feel we have a responsibility to teach the next generation how to master personal relationships; a responsibility to teach the skill set to build a powerful and trusting personal brand.

I would like to give you two examples of men I work with who have mastered this understanding: David Kincaid and Sébastien Fauré.  

Both have created a group of champions the likes of which I have not seen in my career. Kincaid is the president and CEO of Level5 Strategy Group, and Fauré is CEO of the Montreal-based agency Bleublancrouge.

I am not normally a humble man but I aspire to have their mastery of personal relationships. They understand the innate power of the constancy of honour, transparency and trust. In other words, “they mean what they say and they say what they mean.” So people want to work for them and with them. Very attractive stuff.

Look around you and you may be able to list all the people who fit this description on one hand and I guarantee they are all successful in their fields.

Read more:

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Terrific use of social media by the normally very conservative Salvation Army to build brand awareness and consideration. I love how they have attached their brand to a very powerful social media meme. Even better because the ad is ‘on brand’ – and yet very provocative. Good on the brand team and agency to seize the moment and bring much needed attention to this very serious and topical subject. Matthew Kelly, Managing Partner

Watch Matthew Kelly’s City TV news interview here:

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Brand Finance and the Globe and Mail’s Report of Business released their annual top 100 Canadian brands report over the weekend. The top ten brands on the list were the usual cast of characters, with the top five banks and top three telecom companies sharing familiar spots.

On the surface, it seems like there was nothing earth shattering to report. However, it is important to note that among the entire top 100 brands listed, Canada has just one AAA brand (which is a measure of strength, risk and potential relative to other brands) to report. That brand is Bell Canada. To further the troubling news, RBC, Canada’s number one brand, ranks just 102nd globally.

Sadly, our much admired brands such as Tim Hortons, TD and Loblaws rank well down on the leading global brands list and do not make the AAA cut.

So, should we as Canadians care? Should the CEOs of Tim Horton’s, TD and Loblaws care?

At LEVEL5, we believe the answer is a resounding YES. Sure, average Canadians don’t really care about AAA or global ratings as long as their wireless is fast, their coffee fresh or their banking experience easy. But as we have proven at LEVEL5 time after time using quantitative BrandMap™ studies, Canadians rarely LOVE their brands or branded experience the way Brits or Americans do.

Canadian brands often get the rational side of the brand experience right. But we also very often see a dry sea of sameness in Canadian marketing, products and services.

Truly successful brands like Apple, Wells Fargo or Taco Bell have mastered the emotional side of brand building – as well and having built their entire business systems around delivering a very emotive and differentiated brand promise. As a result, they outperform the competition by operationalizing their brand strategy. That winning combination allows global leading brands to grow faster over time. They are also able to manage risk more effectively. They can command higher margins. And they will consistently deliver very devoted customers.

So, how can Canadian brands learn by example from top global brands?

We see this as an opportunity for Canadian organizations to invest in building their brand equity by getting the emotional side right, linking it to differentiating rational attributes and focusing their entire organization on consistently delivering and measuring against a simple, compelling promise that evolves with the consumer.

Maybe then, our Canadian brands will be ready for the global stage.

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What is LEVEL5 Day?

LEVEL5 Day (originally Founders Day) was inaugurated to celebrate LEVEL5’s 10-year anniversary in 2012.  Since then, LEVEL5 Day has become an annual tradition – an opportunity to take time out and to celebrate the many years of our great culture, brand and to engage in fun team bonding. 

We had a blast!