Canoo creates an ‘exclusive club’ for newcomers

The ICC's app, which provides free access to cultural venues and destinations, tries to shed the feel of a "charity" to empower immigrants.
Canoo - Meta

The Institute of Canadian Citizenship (ICC) is looking to redefine its flagship app Canoo with a new campaign that repositions it as a special club for newcomers to Canada.

The repositioning is part of a larger rebrand for the app, which provides free access to more than 1,400 of Canada’s most sought-after destinations – including places such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Banff National Park and Pointe-à-Callière – to permanent residents of Canada who are over 18 years of age and within the first five years of receiving that status, as well as new Canadian citizens who are over 18 and within the first year of their citizenship.

Key to the rebrand was the desire to position Canoo as an “exclusive” club.

“We want it to feel welcoming, and yet special,” says Faisal Siddiqui, founder and strategist for Creative Business Company, which developed the new brand for the ICC and Canoo. “The reason we decided to do this is it challenges the narrative around a lot of services for immigrants, which often come across as charity. They come across as just giving people free stuff. Canoo is giving people free stuff, but we didn’t want it to feel like that. We wanted it to feel like people have earned these things by choosing to come to Canada.”

Ultimately, the goal is to reframe the narrative around newcomers from “pity to power,” says Daniel Bernhard, CEO of the ICC.

“The basic idea is that newcomers shouldn’t have to thank Canada for coming in,” adds Siddiqui. “We want to challenge that narrative and say Canada is thanking them for choosing us. Canoo is a thank you.”

The new branding harnesses a slogan, “You’re in,” that hints at Canoo’s positioning as a special and exclusive club, while Canadian modernist imagery appeals to users with striking graphics of various locales offered via the app. It also harnesses the yellow line common in trail marking systems that would be familiar to hikers to show how Canoo can be a guide for newcomers to some of the best that Canada has to offer.

“The yellow line can guide newcomers along the way, to spaces that are friendly and welcoming and are partners of Canoo,” Siddiqui says. “That line shows up in different places. It plays a navigational role, but it also adds life and a sense of direction and hope for newcomers.”

Ultimately, the goal is to encourage immigrants to Canada to avail themselves of Canadian culture. According to ICC insights, “newcomers, when they first move to a different country, often spend the first couple of years just working their ass off,” says Siddiqui. “They don’t avail themselves of Banff National Park, or a museum, or the AGO. They push back on partaking in public life because they’re so focused on establishing themselves… and so all of those things are seen as nice-to-haves and are pushed back until later years. Canoo wants to encourage and allow people to take advantage of those things from day one.”

The new brand is launching in a digital-first campaign that employs targeted 15-second video ads to serve up attractions to viewers that have local significance.

“The launch of the brand was all done digitally. We used a lot of video but it’s all digital and extremely broadly targeted,” explains Siddiqui. “What we wanted to show is you can do a brand campaign that is broadly targeted and makes a splash, but don’t necessarily have to use TV or billboards. Ideally, everyone does TV and billboards, but for a lot of brands that’s just not an option. There’s ways to get a broadcast-style message and flight it to a lot of people at the same time using digital channels.”