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Who are Alberta’s Most Loved Brands?

Alberta Venture was on hand as leading market research firm Ipsos unveiled its list

Alix Kemp is an assistant editor with Alberta Venture magazine. She probably has more tattoos than the average business journalist. Email Alix at akemp@albertaventure.com

May 16, 2014

by Alix Kemp

On Thursday night, leading market research firm Ipsos presented Alberta’s most loved brands, counting down 10 of the province’s leading companies based on how consumers connect with their marketing and branding. “Brand love,” also known as attitudinal equity, measures how close consumers feel to a business based on a variety of factors, such as trust, innovation, social responsibility and visibility.

The 10 winners were selected from a pool of 55 consumer-oriented brands that are either based in Alberta, headquartered here or have a strong heritage in the province. They are:

10. Calgary Stampede

Score: 124
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Vern Kimball, CEO
Senior Marketer: Deanne Carson, VP Marketing and External Relations
Described by consumers as: Exciting, fun, expensive, crowded

The Calgary Stampede is more than just a 10-day event. The organization has a 100-year history, which has helped establish it as an integral part of Calgary’s identity. The story of the flood – and the Stampede’s heroic response, including the $2 million it raised for charity with its Hell or High Water t-shirts – had an enormous impact on how Albertans view the organization.

9. Telus

Score: 125
HQ: Vancouver
Senior Executive: Joe Natale, President and CEO
Senior Marketer: David Fuller, CMO
Described by consumers as: Expensive, reliable, helpful, dependable

Telus has strong roots in Alberta despite its Vancouver head office. The company has been incredible successful at marketing itself, and is known for the cute animals it uses in all its advertising materials. The company is particular impressive because of its visibility, despite its comparative lack of physical presence.

8. West Edmonton Mall

Score: 126
HQ: Edmonton
Senior Executive: David Ghermezian, President
Senior Marketer: Anna Alfonso, VP Marketing
Described by consumers as: Busy, fun, big, entertaining

West Edmonton Mall, known to many Albertans as just “The Mall,” was one of the world’s first super malls and remains a major tourist attraction. The brand is perceived as highly unique, which is hardly surprising, but the company also has a significant physical reach despite its localness.

7. Shaw

Score: 130
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Brad Shaw, CEO
Senior Marketer: Jim Little, CMO
Described by consumers as: Innovative, reliable, fast, expensive

Shaw’s new Yes Bots, Bit and Bud, are a similar branding device to the critters used by rival Telus. Consumers don’t respond quite as strongly to the bots because marketing devices take time to develop and take hold, but initial responses are very positive.

6. Alberta Blue Cross

Score: 135
HQ: Edmonton
Senior Executive: Ray Pisani, President and CEO
Senior Marketer: Brian Geislinger, VP Corporate Relations
Described by consumers as: Reliable, helpful, expensive

Alberta Blue Cross is well known for its contributions to the community, supporting a huge variety of charitable organizations across the province. Brian Geislinger, the company’s vice-president of corporate relations, pointed out in a short video that Alberta Blue Cross brands itself as “an organization that Albertans know and trust,” something that’s clearly demonstrated by the positive responses it received.

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5. Mark’s

Score: 136
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Harry Taylor, COO
Senior Marketer: Kal Irani, VP Marketing
Described by consumers as: Quality, comfortable, practical, valuable

Mark’s (formerly Mark’s Work Wearhouse) has been clothing Canadians since the 1970’s, and is well-known for its blue collar roots. The organization, now owned by Canadian Tire, has been expanding its reach beyond industry and trades however, into casual and professional wear for both men and women. That move has been effective, and their new branding and store look are being well-received by Albertans.

4. Calgary Zoo

Score: 139
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Clément Lanthier, President & CEO
Senior Marketer: Lindsey Galloway, Director Communications, Marketing and Sales
Described by consumers as: Educational, fun, family

Because of its limited geographical footprint and marketing, you might not expect the Calgary Zoo to place so highly on this list. However, due to the strength of its customer experiences as well as its reputation as a community organization, the Zoo’s branding has done exceptionally well. Consumers also had a very strong emotional connection to the story of how it was affected by and recovered from last summer’s floods.

3. Alberta Motor Association

Score: 152
HQ: Edmonton
Senior Executive: Don Smitten, CEO
Senior Marketer: Jane Flower, VP Marketing
Described by consumers as: Reliable, helpful, dependable, safe

The Alberta Motor Association is probably best-known for its roadside assistance, but the organization has branched out into a number of different areas, including travel booking and insurance. They’ve succeeded in growing their product range in such a way that Albertans trust them to do everything well.

2. Safeway

Score: 156
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Chuck Mulvenna, President and COO
Senior Marketer: Bill Sexsmith, VP Sales
Described by consumers as: Expensive, good, convenient, friendly

Recently purchased by Sobeys, Safeway grew from a chain of small local groceries into a marketing powerhouse. Consumers overwhelmingly describe the company as “expensive,” but the other terms they use – “good,” “friendly,” and “convenient” – demonstrate that it delivers a strong value for dollars spent with its service experience.

1.WestJet

Score: 159
HQ: Calgary
Senior Executive: Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO
Senior Marketer: Bob Cummings, Executive VP Sales, Marketing and Guest Experience
Described by consumers as: Fun, friendly, reliable, excellent, inexpensive, caring

WestJet surprised absolutely nobody when it was announced as Alberta’s most loved brand. Consumers see the company as incredibly innovative, and it’s well known for its commitment to corporate social responsibility. WestJet is also an amazing viral marketer – its Christmas video last year received more than 35 million views, leaving it to figure out how to beat that this coming December.

Next Week: Seven lessons from Alberta’s 10 most loved brands

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