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Canada’s most influential brands light on homegrown icons

Noel Hulsman

Where have you gone Canadian Tire? Shopper’s Drug Mart? The Bay? Canada has turned its lonely eyes away from you, apparently.

In a recent study of the country’s Most Influential Brands, none of these Canadian icons even cracked the top 10. The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid and the ICA, asked more than 5,000 Canadians to name the companies they considered the most trustworthy, leading-edged, visible and engaged in their communities.

The results were surprising. Not only did the local legends above get shut out, but even more hip, high-flying brands like Lululemon and Canada Goose failed to make the grade.

Similarly insufficient it seems are Bombardier, BlackBerry, McCains, Maple Leaf Foods , Air Canada, WestJet and all of the big five banks. But before you conclude that the fix was in, or that the survey was conducted entirely on the far shores of Baffin Island or Haida Gwaii, know that the results weren’t completely bonkers. Tim Hortons made the list, though only in the 8th spot, followed by AirMiles with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation coming in 10th, proof, it appears that Don Cherry is good for something.

So who do Canadians consider the best brand in the land? Google. And not only here, but No. 1 around the world, according to survey respondents. In claiming top spot, the ubiquitous search engine beat out last year’s winner, Microsoft, as well as tech glitterati Apple, Facebook and YouTube (#7), which is part of Google, of course, though admittedly a separate brand.

Wal-Mart and Visa rounded out the top 10. Among the winners, only Tim Hortons, which moved up seven spots from last year’s inaugural survey, is new to the list.

The key variable according to Ipsos-Reid and the ICA is how relevant each brand is to the lives of Canadians, and how much faith they have in the company’s future. Google took the top spot, in part for its impact on consumer behavior, serving as the on ramp to the Internet for most, as well as for its prowess in pioneering new technologies. In the same measure, Microsoft was recognized for essentially shaping everything we do on computers. Apple and Facebook were similarly lauded for their transformative role in people’s lives.

Seen in that light, the rankings no longer seem so startling. Six out of the top 10 selections represent near-monopoly powerhouses and a seventh, Tim Hortons, has become so inexplicably steeped in national folklore than any Canadian listing of brands that didn’t include the coffee chain might risk serious questioning.

Check out the full top 10 list below:

1. Google
2. Microsoft
3. Apple
4. Facebook
5. Wal-Mart
6. Visa
7. YouTube
8. Tim Hortons
9. Air Miles
10. CBC