OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government embarked on an exhaustive creative process and spent $24,000 to hire a consultant to help rebrand its new investment promotion body to grab the attention of foreign investors.
In the end, they changed the name of their “Invest in Canada Hub” to “Invest in Canada.”
The government’s “rigorous business naming process” started in 2017 to deal with internal concerns that the official title would fail to give the organization a fresh start at its launch, according to a briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press.
In addition to worries the name failed to set Canada apart from the pack, there were reservations about the word “Hub.”
“While the legislation provides the legal name, the Invest in Canada Hub was not seen as resonating with international audiences as ‘Hub’ is typically a word associated with innovation and not investment,” said the memo, prepared last December for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
“Through a series of brainstorming exercises, benchmarking, focus testing, and official languages and trademark queries, a series of names were generated and refined.”
Champagne, who made the final choice from two options, officially unveiled the organization under its new title in March.
Ottawa first announced the Invest in Canada Hub in the fall of 2016, promising $218 million over five years to create it. The goal is to lure global investment and simplify the process for international businesses to make Canada their new home.
The document said Ottawa hired a creative agency for about $24,000 to assist in the naming effort, tossed around 2,000 words in search of ideas, wrote a long list of suggestions and consulted more than 125 stakeholders inside and outside government on the possibilities.
Champagne’s ultimate selection wasn’t the No. 1 option generated by the process, the document says. The top recommendation was “Canada Global.”
A “major drawback” of Invest in Canada was that it wasn’t new, the document said. The name followed the convention used by most countries seen as Canada’s competitors for foreign investment — from Invest in Italy to Invest in Spain.
“(It) does not differentiate Canada as unique,” said the note, obtained under the Access to Information Act.
The memo said the preferred English name was Invest Canada, but since the acceptable corresponding French version would be “Investir au Canada,” the translation needed “in.”
“This essentially brings the process back to the same name that has been used over (the) past 10+ years,” it said.
Canada Global, on the other hand, was viewed as a choice that would help Canada stand out from the competition, particularly from ProMexico and Select USA.
“A strong name for an investment promotion agency, allowing for a broad international marketing approach,” the memo said of Canada Global.
The document also contained many names that were kicked around, but ultimately failed to make the cut.
“Encore Canada” made a short list of six names, but it was abandoned over concerns about its English meaning.
“Encore Canada had a negative connotation in French (i.e. Again Canada?),” the memo said.
Asked about the effort, Invest in Canada spokeswoman Susan Wong wrote in an email that the organization’s mandate is “promoting and branding Canada as a premier investment destination.”
She said the naming process also analyzed more than 20 years of existing branding data.
“Based on several rounds of testing and numerous consultations, Invest in Canada was ultimately chosen as the business name for this new federal organization,” Wong said.
She added that the organization continues to grow as it works towards becoming fully operational. It’s putting in place infrastructure, programs, services, tools and is hiring talent, she said.
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Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press