I just got back from a very nice holiday. I flew out and back from Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
I was looking forward to seeing Ove Design’s recent rebranding of Terminal 1.
So I was a bit disappointed to fly in and out of Terminal 3.
I was hoping it would be Terminal 1 because I’m intrigued as to what extent design can improve time spent in an airport.
I imagine even the best design can only make an incremental difference to an experience characterised by ever lengthening line ups, over priced food and beverages, and inevitable delays.
Since I didn't get to see it, I don't know for sure.
Then I was struck by, dare I say, an entirely bigger thought.
Why stop at airports?
Why not rebrand entire countries?
Countries are not static, they evolve.
And the evolution of nations is somewhat more complex than the evolution of brands.
But national brand identities are invariably remnants of the past.
A glorious history is all very well, but sometimes you need to get with the program.
So following the order of my trip, first up for a makeover is the United Kingdom.
Or to give it its full title the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" - a term coined in 1927.
And badly in need of an overhaul after 84 years.
What with the resurgence of Scottish separatism and the London riots, United seems stretching it a bit.
And isn't Kingdom just a tad chauvinistic for a country ruled by a Queen?
The Disunited Monarchdom would be more apt, if a bit dour.
So how about the United Drinkdom?
Surely this encapsulates the brand character of a country where everyone is united by being on the lash, hungover, or nipping out for a swift half.
It’s a well-known fact that when you arrange to meet a Brit you‘ll end up in a pub, (which is fun when you’re on holiday).
Even if, the legendary stiff upper lip has metamorphosed into, the much-loved-by-the-tabloid-press, rubber legged Friday night.
Maybe Diagio could sponsor all that new signage.
Are you thinking cross promotion?
The English word "Turkey" is derived from the Medieval Latin Turchia circa 1369.*
Not surprisingly, this is a hopelessly outdated brand.
Then, Turkey was famous for Sultans, harems and Constantinople.
Today, Turkey is famous for Istanbul, archeology, beaches and hospitality.
And Turkish hospitality is wonderful because it genuinely stems from cultural values even when there’s a commercial aspect to it.
The Turks know how to make you feel at home with warmth and excellent service that anticipates your needs through extra-sensory powers.
Meze, wine, olives, glasses, ice and raki, uncannily appear seconds before you were going to ask for them, in a fine example of just in time supply chain management.
While your host is being charming in four or five languages.
But the name Turkey hardly reflects this, evoking things that don’t work very well and Christian holiday roasts.
No problem, a simple rebrand to HospiTurkity, and they can own hospitality.
They deserve to, so it’s only fair.
That should see them alright for the next seven centuries.
Which brings me home literally and figuratively to Canada.
A country whose copious natural resources include either the second or third largest oil reserves in the world, depending on the credibility of restated Venezuelan reserves.
With a natural conservatism that has made its banking system the envy of many.
Not to mention Justin Bieber.
Canada doesn’t quite capture the new Canadian exuberance.
But in homage to the original Iroquoian word, kanata, meaning village or settlement* Kanada has a bit of bling to it.
And as an abbreviation for the currency, K$ with its connotation of “a grand”, is way cooler than C$.
It’s a timely reminder of our relative economic stability and new-found standing in the global order.
Which is just as well when you have bills to pay.
And when you get back from vacation -- you always do.