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This article was published 11/11/2011 (3192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
FOR the second year in a row, international business consulting group FutureBrand has named Canada the top brand among countries.
This assessment is based on surveys with 3,500 international travellers from 14 countries, and meant to gauge what people immediately think of when a country's name is mentioned, they see a picture of it or they plan a trip there.
FutureBrand praised Canada for being a country that "actively manages its country brand to constantly improve performance." It noted use of natural landscape imagery and the "iconic Maple Leaf" to promote the country.
"As the United Kingdom prepares to leverage the power of the London 2012 Olympic Games, it would do well to emulate Canada's treatment of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, where the event was used as a platform to build sustainable brand strength across every dimension," FutureBrand said in a statement.
Canadian Tourism Commission CEO Michele McKenzie said: "We've taken advantage of some terrific media platforms that we've had, especially the Olympics."
While the Olympics helped Canada stand out among international brands last year, an occasion this year that garnered worldwide attention was the royal visit from the newly married Prince William and Kate.
Within both these events, McKenzie said her Crown corporation and other partners in the tourism sector were able to paint a pleasant picture of Canada for people watching all around the world.
"With two years of success in the top spot, you know that this wasn't just a one-year wonder with the Olympic effect," McKenzie said.
Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, said it's not surprising Canada's brand has such appeal.
"(People in other countries) think we're a very open, diverse, welcoming country," he said. "That's a widely held view when you travel abroad."
He added that Canada's reputation has been "reinforced" in recent years with the strength of the economy here and the government's financial position compared to other countries.
Looking at some of the other top countries among the 113 ranked, Switzerland was second, New Zealand third, Japan fourth, Australia fifth and the United States sixth.
FutureBrand said some of the commonalities of all the top-ranked countries are they are "democratic, progressive, somewhat politically and economically stable and have the ability to conduct business in English."
Asked about the merit in viewing countries as brands, McKenzie said: "Countries are brands anyway. The question is how do you work with that or not? If the idea of brand is the image or the connection that a person has toward an idea -- whether it's a product or a country or a person -- that exists already."
McKenzie said for Canada to have this kind of appeal is not only good for attracting tourists, but it can convince people all over the world that this is a good place to do business and invest money.
"A nation's brand is like a personal calling card," McKenzie said. "It's really a measure of international reputation."
-- Postmedia News
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