Best Brands

Canada’s Best Brands 2014: Canadians name their favourite companies

5,000 consumers share their views

Tim Hortons CEO Marc Caira

Better loved than Disney? More highly respected than Amazon? When Canadians talk about Tim Hortons, the answer is a resounding yes. The iconic coffee-and-doughnuts chain has always ranked highly in our annual survey of our favourite Canadian brands, and this year, it took the No. 1 spot (again). But it also did something unprecedented: Tims also soared to the No. 2 position in our ranking of Canadians’ favourite brands in the world—a list that includes global powerhouses like Apple, Nestlé and Disney. Since 2010, when international brands were added to our survey, no Canadian company has managed to even crack the Top 10. This year’s results mark a big moment for a big Canuck brand.

Our ranking relies on a survey conducted by the New York–based Reputation Institute of more than 5,000 Canadians. Performed online in January and February, the poll seeks opinions on aspects of a company’s reputation ranging from product quality to governance, citizenship and workplace culture, among others. Those individual results are then compiled, based on a weighted ranking, into a single score for each company. We present those results in two lists: the Top 25 Canadian Brands and the Top 25 Brands Overall, which includes both domestic and international brands.

What makes brands like Tim Hortons so special? The Reputation Institute’s Rob Jekielek says the chain’s power is increasingly “experiential.” It sells memories as much as products—consumers remember how great it feels to sip Tims coffee at the skating rink, just as they recall the thrill of building something entirely new from an old set of Lego—another company that ranks high in this year’s results.

To find out how Tims does it, CEO Marc Caira shares the secrets behind the powerful Tim Hortons brand in an exclusive interview with Canadian Business. We also feature lessons from other top companies (including a venerable soup-maker that ranked No. 1 on our overall list). Could a homegrown company earn the No. 1 spot in Canadians’ hearts and minds one day? Stay tuned.