New study highlights what goes into the making of a top brand, citing Roots as a prime example

By Robert Sarner, The Source, August 2007

We live in a world of brands. Our lives and our reality are inescapably branded. Everywhere you turn, you are surrounded by the presence of brands. If many are created every day, precious few ever reach the exalted status of a national icon. Few become emblematic of their host country. Few attract public awareness, trust and respect on a national level. Few have the relevance, resonance and staying power to become iconic.

In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, brand identity and brand loyalty are increasingly vital to a company’s success. Little surprise then that the evaluation of brands is a hotly watched subject.

A few weeks ago, Brand Finance Canada published a study of the country’s leading companies. Entitled Canada’s Most Valuable Brands 2007, it was prepared by Brand Finance Canada and Level 5 Strategic Brand Advisors in collaboration with Socratic Technologies.

Such is the interest in the topic that the Globe and Mail, the National Post and Canadian Business magazine devoted prominent coverage to the results. Among the findings, Roots was recognized as one of the country’s leading iconic brands.

Brand Finance ranked Canada’s most recognizable brands by total value and overall strength. In establishing its list, the company incorporated consumer research, surveying the public about top-of-mind brand awareness and brand loyalty, in addition to other relevant factors.

Roots was the top brand in the retail clothing sector and fourth overall after Cirque du Soleil, Ski-Doo and the CBC. In fifth place was the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, followed by the Montreal Canadiens in sixth place.

Along with its chart of Canada’s top 10 iconic brands, the report stated: “Our world is filled with day-to-day brands of all stripes that in many ways chronicle the evolution of our society. Brands are all-pervasive and can act as tags or identifiers for things we view as important. In evaluating brands, we did not do it in the traditional sense. The starting point for the list was not market capitalization but rather brands that are part of the history, heritage and culture of Canada. Brands that have shaped Canada’s current landscape.”

A brand is many things but most of all it’s a projection of a personality and a promise. It’s only as strong as the company’s ability to deliver on that promise and to ensure a positive, meaningful customer experience. As such, the brand must start inside the company and project outward. It must emanate from the source. It depends on the entire staff being in synch with the vision, values and passion of the brand.

Although intangible, a strong brand is often a company’s most valuable asset. It’s directly linked to earning loyalty from customers.

“Companies can maintain an edge by developing strong brands that will resist a corporate takeover and act as a barrier to competition,” says David Haigh, founder and CEO of the UK-based Brand Finance and producer of the survey.

“A strong brand doesn’t guarantee success,” adds Haigh. “But companies that understand the strategic importance of their brands are much more likely to succeed in the end.”

The Roots brand derives its strength from the company’s unshakeable loyalty to its customers and its commitment to quality and integrity in all of its diverse activities. While Roots products have evolved considerably since the company’s inception in 1973, the core values, and guiding principles have not. These include a keen sense of style, innovation and aesthetics coupled with a healthy, active lifestyle, respect for the environment and pride in Canada. That consistency helps both staff and customers identify and respect what Roots is all about.

“The results of the latest Brand Finance survey are extremely gratifying for all of us at Roots,” says Co-Founder Michael Budman. “We appreciate the confidence and support that Canadians have for Roots. We never lose sight of the importance of satisfying our customers and meeting their expectations when they enter our stores. We know it’s essential to maintain our standards and values to help ensure that customers don’t just come into our stores today but that they will have such a positive experience that they will want to return again soon.”

To be a strong brand, a company can’t rest on its laurels. Complacency is the surest way to weaken a customer’s perception of and experience with a company. The strength of Roots is that starting with its cofounders and its senior management, there is a consensus, even a passion, to constantly strive to make a good thing even better.

That augurs well for the future of Roots and the power of the brand.

< Back