Leon’s

Leon’s is a much more than “ho-ho-hold the payments.” Founded in 1909 by Ablan Leon, the A. Leon Company was a general merchandise store in Welland, Ontario. It has since grown to become Canada’s first big box store, and sells furniture, appliances and home décor items across the country.

Leon’s also carries its own line of furniture that is made in Canada.

Last summer, my fiancé and I purchased appliances and furniture from Leon’s for our new home, and we are thrilled with the products so far.

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Our Leon’s “Astin” Sofa & Loveseat #myleons

What makes Leon’s stand out?

Historically, Leon’s has been known for carrying brand name furniture and appliances for low prices. The company has also been known for providing financing options for customers. Making high-quality home items affordable and accessible for customers was a key element of the founder’s business strategy and philosophy, and the Leon descendants continue this tradition today.

In recent years, Leon’s has set themselves apart from other “big box” stores by offering a new line of furniture that is made in Canada, and by employing a blog and social media strategy that is targeted at a younger, more urban demographic than the company had previously reached.

How do Leon’s signature elements translate into their web and social media presence?

Leon’s traditional store website carries the recognizable yellow Leon’s logo throughout, and hosts a countless supply of furniture and appliances available to order through the local stores as well as online. The availability of financing is also quite apparent throughout the site.

In keeping with Leon’s desire to reach a younger, more urban demographic, they’ve launched a blog called “Hello Yellow” which follows the style and content of online home décor and lifestyle magazines. DIY projects, home makeovers, beautifully styled living spaces and attractive recipes fill the site, all based on a seasonal calendar. The blog encourages customers to customize their Leon’s purchases in ways that reflect their personal styles and lifestyles. The hashtag #myleons is prevalent throughout the blog, and the site includes a page dedicated to photos of customers’ homes and DIY projects.

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The company’s Facebook page includes gorgeous photos of heavily styled Leon’s products. Photos include just a few Leon’s pieces (sometimes, even just one item from Leon’s), and are styled with beautiful art, flatware, decorative objects and linens.

Alongside the regularly updated blog, Leon’s has active profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Leon’s is telling their story – and the stories of their customers – through beautiful photos and videos.

The signature Leon’s yellow is used in their language on all of their channels as well as through their photos and videos. Some of the styled rooms even use the yellow in their colour scheme.

What can we learn from Leon’s?

  • Visuals: Excellent, well-lit photography and quality videos are key to presenting a stylish, contemporary aesthetic.
  • Storytelling: Sharing customers’ personal stories through a highly curated, seasonally planned calendar is attention-grabbing.
  • Made in Canada: There is a market for products that are made in Canada. Customers are seeking high-quality, Canadian-made goods and are willing to pay a bit more to get them.
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Lululemon

Lululemon Athletica is by far the most well-known Canadian activewear brand. Founded in Vancouver by Chip Wilson in 1998, the company has grown from an enterprise that was a yoga clothing studio by day, yoga practice studio by night, into a global activewear brand.

What makes Lululemon stand out?

Lululemon rose to popularity when yoga became a mainstream “thing” in the early 2000’s. Today, people all over the country wear “yoga pants” daily, whether or not they are interested in practicing yoga. The pants are comfortable, form-fitting and fairly flattering because of the compression effect within the fabric.

Lululemon stands out because they appear to be the first in Canada of its kind and the biggest. The products are of good quality, and address the needs of those who live active lifestyles as well as those who just wish to wear comfy clothing. Lulu made activewear stylish. The stores are attractive and inviting, and the products hint at a healthy, trendy lifestyle many Canadians aspire to live.

The subtle Lulu logo is instantly recognizable, yet does not dominate the products. Its subtlety is its strength.

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How do Lululemon’s signature elements translate into their web and social media presence?

Lulu’s social channels illustrate the healthy, active, yogic lifestyle the brand exudes. Their Facebook page includes recipes, meditation podcasts, running tips, yoga info and plenty of images of women appearing healthy and beautiful in their Lululemon activewear.

The company’s Instagram channel uses the hashtag #thesweatlife and the account description says “Our products create transformational experiences for people to live happy, healthy, fun lives.” Photos include people running together or alone, practicing yoga, and hugging each other. There are motivational posts throughout, including sayings intended to inspire the sort of lifestyle Lululemon sell, including “less scroll, more soul.”

What can we learn from Lululemon?

Lululemon’s products are not made in Canada, and the company does not position itself on the “made in Canada” pedestal. Instead, this active lifestyle brand positions itself as a transformational, global movement toward active, healthy lifestyles, and presents itself as a motivator and a provider of the tools needed to live this sort of life in a stylish, comfortable fashion.

From Lululemon, we learn that identifying people’s aspirations and then tailoring products and an entire brand story to meet and lead those aspirations, can result in a multi-million dollar, global enterprise.

Canada Goose

When I think of Canada Goose, I think of the ubiquitous puffy winter coat in its limited colour palette.

I first became aware of Canada Goose in about 2009, though I was surprised to learn the company had been founded in the 1970’s. Canada Goose has operated under various names since its inception, and has focused on different versions of winter outerwear. Through the years, the company has partnered with, and catered to, film crews, Arctic explorers, and people working and living in adverse winter weather conditions. In 2004, Canada Goose’s coats played roles in the Hollywood films The Day After Tomorrow and National Treasure. These product placements appear to mark the beginning of Canada Goose’s rise to fame.

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What makes Canada Goose stand out?

Canada Goose stands out because it is a proudly “made in Canada” brand, and because it is EVERYWHERE. Living in St. John’s, NL, I see countless Canada Goose coats from December to April. The company must make a killing here. We have a relatively small population, but I would venture to guess the amount of Canada Goose coats per capita is astounding.

The coats are warm, functional, and perfectly suited to our harsh winters.

How do Canada Goose’s signature elements translate into their web and social media presence?

Canada Goose is associated with the extreme cold, and this permeates throughout their social channels.

The hashtag #ArcticExtreme is used throughout their social channels. Their Facebook page includes videos and articles about trekking through the Arctic. Canada Goose has positioned itself as an extreme cold weather brand which can support anyone through the elements.

The company is also attempting to establish itself as a luxury brand, according to their social media descriptions (i.e. “Luxury apparel informed by the demands of the Arctic”), and this is apparent in their Instagram channel. I’m not buying it. These coats are worn by every third university student across the country. Their ubiquity makes them un-luxurious. They are solid winter coats, but they are not luxury.

What can we learn from Canada Goose?

From Canada Goose, we learn that, if you can make one product with broad application here in Canada and make it well, you can build a huge business. With only minor variations from year to year (i.e. a new colour or two), Canada Goose is booming. They have addressed a market need: quality coats made for our harsh winters. And they have integrated the Canadian element (i.e. made here for our weather) to make the coats even more attractive to men and women across the country.

Roots

Roots Canada positions itself as “Canada’s leading lifestyle brand.” The company was founded in 1973 by Michael Budman and Don Green while they were camping in Algonquin Park. The company credits Canadian “nature, culture, sports and human
diversity” as major sources of inspiration. Their logo is a nod to the Canadian beaver.

I’m a longtime fan of Roots. As a Canadian tween, I recall a deep longing for the classic red Roots sweatsuit. I remember my mother allowing me to have the red jogging pants for a school ski trip and I was elated. In my late teens, I was planning a trip and needed a new backpack. Of course, I bought a red Roots knapsack. In my twenties, I bought several leather bags from Roots – each made in Canada – and they are still in great shape 10 years later. I also own a few Roots hoodies, and have bought the adorable baby jogging suits for my niece. How could I not? I love Canada and I love Roots!

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What makes Roots stand out?

Roots’ Canadian-ness makes it stand out. Who would think people would want to wear sweatshirts with beavers on the front? Somehow, because of the lore and distinct style Roots has carefully curated over the years, we love it.

Roots’ leather collection is also unique. Their leather line is high-quality, Italian leather, and the products are designed and made in Canada. You pay more than you would for a wallet or purse in the local mall, but you will have the piece forever. And you can own and sport it with pride, knowing that it is fine quality and made here.

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How do Roots’ signature elements translate into their web and social media presence?

Roots is currently running a #RootsIsCanada campaign throughout their social channels. This is a perfectly on-brand strategy for them, and further builds the company’s status as a Canadian brand with Canadian style and values.

The company also highlights the changing seasons in Canada through social and shares photos and videos of activities and traditions across the country. The Roots Cabin Collection is front and centre this spring, signalling a return to our escapes from the city, and reminding us of the comfy, cozy attire we don for such trips.

Roots’ social channels are not about products. They are documenting and presenting a Canadian lifestyle, wherein products simply help us live that lifestyle in comfort and style.

What can we learn from Roots?

From Roots, we learn that nationalism sells. We trust this company because it is so essentially Canadian. We wear beavers on our clothing and purses because they demonstrate our pride in our country.

We also learn that, as long as a decent portion of products are made in Canada, and the brand sells Canada as an overall idea, they will get away with not carrying exclusively Canadian-made products. The clothing lines for Roots are not made in Canada, nor are the fabric bookbags or totes. The only Canadian-made items in their stores are the leather goods. Yet, we believe the brand is Canadian. We learn that the brand story is just as important – if not more so – than the products themselves.