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Lesson #4: Build A Brand That Can Stand On Its Own
There are few American restaurants in operation today that could be considered the equivalent of what Tim Hortons represents to Canada. It is not just a coffee shop (although its coffee is so popular many have suggested it may be laced with nicotine). Rather, it has become a Canadian institution.
Despite the fact that Tim Hortons is now owned by Wendy’s, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, the company’s marketing continues to be geared towards all things Canadian. One commercial shows a child using the money he got from Christmas to buy a Tim Hortons cup of coffee for a man shoveling the snow off of a local lake that was used as an ice rink. Another shows Lillian, a gentle grandmother from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, who walks uphill no matter what the weather to get her daily Tim Hortons fix.
Whatever the commercial, they all attempt to associate Tim Hortons with Canadian culture at a national level, while also presenting the coffee chain as a friendly neighbourhood spot. Many of these spots have even become etched in the minds of its ever loyal customers. In addition to television, Joyce used other media including radio to aggressively market his business to Canadians nationwide.
But, Joyce also made sure that the company was doing its part on the local level to build a brand. He began the company’s long tradition of supporting community sports and recreation programs, as well as sponsoring all six of Canada’s NHL ice rinks. Tim Hortons ads can always be seen on the boards of hockey rinks across the nation. The company has even timed its famous “Rrroll up the Rim” campaign to take place during the height of the NHL season, when hockey goers are sure to see their special promotions. Tim Hortons is also the current title sponsor of the Brier, Canada’s annual men’s curling championships.
Today, thanks to Joyce’s creative marketing, ordering a “double double” with “Timbits” has become as Canadian as the game of hockey itself. Even Tim Hortons’ holiday coffee cups embrace the promotional spirit with pictures of snowflakes, hockey rinks, and toques on their sides. Joyce took Tim Hortons from being a local coffee shop to being a national cultural symbol, all the while keeping its friendly, local feel.
More than ten years after his departure, the brand that Joyce helped build is still standing strong. When you think of Canada, you think of freezing cold winters, police in funny hats on horses, hockey, and Tim Hortons. And, that is exactly how Joyce wanted it to be.
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