By Annie Pettit

 When consistently and genuinely applied, company values and culture can be amazing drivers of growth. Consumers are quick to discover your true company values and respond with or without their wallets, as the case may be. In just the last few months, there have been numerous instances around the world where brand values were uncovered in social media, some negative and some positive, resulting in real change to brand perceptions and growth.

For example, this year in the USA, United Airlines struggled through some extremely negative media attention when a man was forcibly removed from a flight. Why were people so upset? Not only because of the aggressive nature of the event, but because we perceived that the man was treated unfairly, that other people were inappropriately given higher priority than he was. People expect to be treated with respect, caring, and fairness and those values were disregarded. People did indeed respond with their wallets and this event resulted in an $800 million drop in stock values for United Airlines.

Also in the USA, Pepsi faired less than well when Kendall Jenner appeared in an ad that seemed to suggest people enduring strife and disagreement could unite if they simply enjoyed a Pepsi together. However, people perceived the ad to be less than genuine, one that trivialized world issues, and one that failed to appreciate the complexities of social and political issues. Again, our beliefs in equality, respect, and caring were incongruous with the ad and consumers rebelled. In the end, the ad was withdrawn.

On the other hand, brands that genuinely tap into our cherished values are rewarded with success. In the UK, Glimpse Collective ran a strangely anti-marketing, marketing campaign called #CatsNotAds in support of rehoming cats and dogs. It began with a Kickstarter asking for donations to fill one London Underground station with pictures of cats instead of traditional advertising. Very soon, enough donations had been received to make it happen. Given that the intent was to show people that public spaces should make you feel good, the campaign fed into our values of caring and compassion and ultimately achieved worldwide recognition – from one, single subway station.

In another heartwarming example, the Danish broadcasting channel TV2 created a video celebrating diversity. This viral sensation featured a motley crew of people who were led to discover that they had much in common – some were stepparents, believed in life after death, had bullied or been bullied, or felt lonely. (Jeepers, I watched the video and now I’M crying!) The ad directly focused on the values of diversity, respect, and caring and won our hearts in the process.

This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday, young by some country’s standards but just right by ours.

If you ask people around the world what values are best reflected by Canadians, you’ll hear some pretty wonderful things. We are known for being inclusive, humble, adventurous, really nice, apologizing when someone bumps into us, and, of course, really really really loving hockey. 

So stay tuned! In the coming weeks and months, we will showcase some top Canadian brands and companies, and how they exemplify our most cherished Canadian values. From being truly caring to wildly adventurous, let us share a bit of Canada with you.