Canada’s Top Brands

Like a doughnut the survey in Canadian Business magazine that placed Tim Hortons as Canada’s Top Brand is enjoyable but not necessarily the most nutritious thing in the world. We find out that Canadian’s love Tim Hortons’ coffee and doughnuts which seems about right. (I don’t entirely get loving the coffee but perhaps the new Dark Roast will make the affection less puzzling to foreigners like me.)

There is nothing wrong with the survey. I have no doubt that the Reputation Institute did a good job sampling of 5,000 Canadians. The questions were almost certainly well constructed, and the math professionally performed. The problem is that I’m not really sure what the results are supposed too tell us. Without a clear statement of what brand means to Canadian Business and a detailed explanation of the methodology any ranking is merely an interesting trifle. (Canadian Business is owned by Rogers who don’t feature on the list of top brands despite doing very well in other brand rankings, e.g. Interbrand, so at least Rogers aren’t choosing the metholodology to make themselves look good.)

Canadian Business calls the top Canadian and International brands those that score highest on a weighted combination of “opinions on aspects of a company’s reputation ranging from product quality to governance, citizenship, and workplace culture, among others.” (Canadian Business, 2014,page 47)

Even if we accept that the headings the surveys examines are the key things that influence brand strength we are not given any reason to think the weightings are correct. Is citizenship more important than workplace culture for a brand? I can’t tell. The weighting will change the ranking. Furthermore, the relative importance of aspects should theoretically change between industries so the value of a general weighting between say workplace culture and citizenship is debatable.

Measures of brand which are based purely upon opinion surveys, even if well done, don’t reflect issues that seem important to me, such as whether the brand drives cash inflow. For example, Campbell’s Soup is rated the best international brand. I believe that it is a strong brand but I’d be surprised if people thought it the most valuable brand. (To be fair Canadian Business surveys the “top brands” but doesn’t claim they are the most valuable).

The conclusion I took from the survey is that the journalists at Canadian Business magazine think Tim Horton’s is the top brand in Canada. Great, but other people may think differently and I’m not sure we can conclude Canadian Business’ view is much better than anyone else’s.

Read: Canadian Business, May 2014, 87 (4), Canada’s Top Brands 2014