A Tale of a Tower and a Toonie

Branding Brought to New Heights 
I’m writing this from my room on the 17th floor of the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Directly out my window is the famous but somewhat dated CN Tower. 
The CN Tower, which opened in 1976, is a communications and observation tower 553.3 meters (1,815 ft.) tall. It’s the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, and a symbol of Canada, attracting more than two million international visitors annually.
The CN Tower is a clever brand image that, for many years, positioned Toronto and Canada as prosperous, industrious and innovative. Indeed, when it comes to branding and innovative marketing, the Canadians are clearly above the crowd.
Canadian English, like American English, use the slang term “buck” for a dollar. This term is Canadian in origin; it derives from a coin struck during the 17th century with a value equal to the pelt of a male beaver — a “buck.”
In 1987, Canadians decided to discontinue the use of paper money for small denominations, so they stopped printing the paper buck and began minting one- and two-dollar coins.  
Because the image of a loon appears on the back of the dollar coin, the word “loonie” was adopted in Canadian parlance to distinguish the Canadian dollar coin from the paper dollar bill. And when the two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, the derivative word “toonie” (two loonies) became the common word for it in Canadian English slang.
When I paid for a beverage with a $20 US bill and got back a loonie and a toonie in my Canadian change, I thought they were pulling my leg when they told me the names of the coins. But I realized the names are clever and catchy, and that’s what helped build quick acceptance of the new coins among Canadian consumers.
Often to my Canadian hosts’ dismay, I began using the new names in conversations. “Heck, that idea and a toonie won’t even get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks!” I proclaimed.

Maybe the economy would not seem so bad if we rebranded our money and a few other things. Maybe we can put LeBron James on our money; then we won’t be surprised when it disappears. Or maybe we can put Mr. Whipple on our money. Then if you want to cut the budget, you can tell your employees: “Please DO squeeze the Charmin.” 
Maybe it’s time to consider redeveloping your brand image. “Revamp, rework and revise” need to be your operating words right now.
When we see the CN Tower, Toronto and Canada come to mind. When Canadians hear “loonie” or “toonie,” they immediately see one or two dollars.
What comes to mind when your company name or product name is seen or mentioned? Is it easily recalled? Favorably recalled? Does it seem new and unique…or old and common?
Take your brand and your image higher with a revamp, a rework or revision. Don’t worry about disconnecting existing customers. Canada switched from “bucks” to “loonies” after 200 years, and it had no problem with communicating the change. We’ve done the same for dozens of local organizations, with great results also.
Take the time and make the effort to upgrade your company’s image, and you’ll see more bucks (or loonies depending on which side of the border you’re on) on your bottom line.
Stay tuned and stay smart.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to GFF@FarrisMarketing.com and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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