In behind the obviously more important political and social issues facing Toronto and its mayoralty right now, it’s hard to ignore the unfolding parable of branding that, in a sense, has defined the problem from the beginning. Rob Ford’s narrative collided violently with old Toronto’s sense of itself from the moment he took office, and he has missed no opportunity to make political hay from that collision. Even as the story seems to be reaching its denouement, and even as it’s becoming inarguable the guy did things unbefitting his office, it still – still – feels from the media chatter as if Ford offended old Toronto’s vanity at least as much as he did its politics. And it still feels as if the mayor’s most fundamental political crime was thinking that he was above having to contend with that. Ford is, in this sense, the BlackBerry of Canadian politicians and, as in that sad case, we’ll all somehow end up paying for it.
Arrogantly assuming you’re in sole control of your brand can result in all kinds of bad news, in fact. In my Canadian Business column this month, I write about the imminent rebranding of the Toronto Raptors, and hope that it won’t be yet another example of logo redesign as a feint to distract us from a vision problem. It wouldn’t be the first time in marketing history, or the most costly. Give it a read. Your comments are very welcome.