The following guest post is written by Amanda Caswell of Interbrand Canada:
As we celebrate 15 years as Interbrand Canada, we want to recognize important Canadian brand developments—none of which have been so exciting as the recent revitalization of the city of Toronto’s brand with the rise of Drake.
Drake’s business is no small business. He’s a rapper who’s sold an estimated 10 million albums worldwide to date. He’s an entrepreneur with a clothing line, a restaurant and an annual music festival. He starred on a popular teen drama (Degrassi: The Next Generation), and is credited with the popularity of phrases like “YOLO” and redefining Toronto as “The 6.”
His three-week-old music video Hotline Bling has spawned millions of gifs, Vines, memes and Halloween costumes—even a Christmas sweater. He’s the global ambassador for the only Canadian NBA basketball team, the Toronto Raptors (which hosts Drake Nights and has inspired a co-branded OVO clothing line with the artist) and a proud supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise.
But the “Drake Effect” isn’t only benefiting his beloved Raptors. Toronto is invited along for the ride on Drake’s rise to the top—his love for his city has been one of the clearest and most consistent messages throughout his musical career, from his lyrics to his Instagram feed. Many of his songs reference specific neighbourhoods and regional slang, and he’s gone so far as to call himself “Toronto’s son” in interviews.
It doesn’t seem to be all surface-level either—his lyrics often reflect a humble attitude that has often been cherished and chided as a distinctly Canadian trait, and maybe that polite persona is even part of his success.
He’s one of the most visible forces in the music industry today, with two albums occupying the top three spots of Billboard’s highest grossing albums of 2015. (On Billboard’s current Top 100, fellow Torontonian rapper, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber round out the top five). With that kind of visibility has come a whole lot more recognition of Toronto as an inspiring, international city.
One thing’s for sure—as long as Drake’s profile keeps rising, Toronto’s profile, and Canada’s, rises too. It’s a welcome revival after the city’s much-ridiculed former mayor made the city a global punchline, and that alone is a reason why he’s much beloved locally. But thanks to Drake, interest in the six is growing, and with it, Toronto’s reputation as world-class city worth paying attention to.