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Why This Canadian Bank Plans to Pave the Way for Entrepreneurs

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Cossette’s Hugo Fournier and BDC’s Andrès Suarez discuss BDC’s new brand platform, finding the right pianist, and what it takes to visually embody ambition, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

Why This Canadian Bank Plans to Pave the Way for Entrepreneurs

Choosing a bank is no easy task. Fees and interest rates need to be considered, customer service track records need to be factored in, and possible perks of joining need to be evaluated. But, for entrepreneurs - aspiring and established alike - BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) wants this to be an easier task. Inspired by its new raison d’être, ‘the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs’, BDC has unveiled an elevated brand platform, new tagline and powerful campaign to mark a new chapter in how it contributes to the success of SMEs and the national economy. In conjunction with BDC’s history of tried-and-true financing solutions, advisory services and venture capital investment approach, this new platform seeks to remind those with the entrepreneurial spirit that when it comes to choosing a bank, BDC is the easy choice. 

To bring this vision to life, BDC partnered up with Cossette. Seeking to avoid the usual advertising tropes for the banking industry, the two, as part of the aforementioned campaign, released an integrated campaign, revolving around the statement ‘We’re on it.’. Featuring TV spots which play on classic metaphors such as ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ or ‘breaking down doors’, the initiative reflects BDC’s desire to create a series of concrete and innovative measures to foster Canadian entrepreneurs’ growth, all while reinforcing the desire to enhance the brand. 

LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Cossette senior director, strategy lead at Cossette Hugo Fournier, and BDC director, brand and audience development Andrès Suarez to learn more about how this new platform and campaign came to fruition. 



LBB> Being tasked with creating a new brand platform, tagline and campaign is no small task. What was the brief, and what immediate ideas came to mind?


Hugo> The most challenging part of this project was translating the new brand purpose of an entire organisation into a brand platform. The advantage of BDC’s new purpose is that there was already a strong emotional component to the choice of words and the meaning they took on. BDC has always been a bank devoted to entrepreneurs, but we felt we needed to delve deeper into why it’s the bank of entrepreneurs, and how they could update this role. The notion of the bank’s and the entrepreneurs’ shared ambitions soon came to life through our exploration - with ‘shared ambitions’ existing in the sense that what unites the two is the idea of having an ambitious vision, whether it’s for the projects of small businesses that BDC supports, or for driving Canada’s economy forward.

We leveraged this principle to develop the tagline ‘The bank of ambitions’. The notion of ambition then guided us to refresh the brand, or in other words, create a brand that’s decidedly livelier, more dynamic and more cutting edge. We applied the same principle in our approach to the campaign and the production, which capitalised on creative thinking that was itself highly ambitious.



LBB> Why was now the right time for a brand elevation? How does this decision fit into BDC’s future?


Andrès> Our defining the bank’s new purpose in late 2021 was the trigger for launching the brand update and the desire to promote this change among entrepreneurs. The start of the campaign was intended to coincide with some major announcements regarding BDC’s renewed ambitions with respect to Canadian entrepreneurs (e.g. our $500 million Thrive Venture Fund and Lab for Women).


LBB> This campaign marks a new chapter in how BDC contributes to the success of SMEs and the Canadian economy. Please tell us more about this. 


Andrès> BDC has always been THE bank devoted to entrepreneurs, and this role is still the foundation of the brand. But, to mark the new chapter, BDC is taking on a larger role by stating that, together with entrepreneurs, it can drive an entire economy. The messaging conveys BDC’s support for the small business community, and highlights the impact of these partnerships. We shined a light on some important themes related to the bank’s development role: creating value beyond profit, encouraging innovation, supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, and empowering women entrepreneurs.



LBB> Where did you start when taking on this rebranding process? And how did your ideas develop through the course of the collaboration in order to reflect the elevated brand platform?


Hugo> We began by putting words to how the brand should evolve. Words that described the future state of the brand. This led us to identify five major shifts that needed to take place in order for BDC to truly embody its new purpose and positioning.

As part of the process of revamping the brand platform, we took a closer look at all the brand elements, using the shifts and the new brand purpose as filters. We then came up with hypothetical, conceptual and visual frameworks, which allowed us to project ourselves into new brand identity possibilities. This was a highly iterative process, to which collaboration between all areas of expertise was key. With every meeting and each decision, the brand took shape and was fine tuned, before eventually being introduced into the real world.


LBB> The ‘Breaking Down Doors’ campaign spot is an important aspect of this elevation. Please tell us more about how this was made! 


Hugo> For the production, we partnered with Brent Foster and Chris Lowe from Scouts Honour. Our aim was to visually embody our ambition. A bank with ambition expresses itself with ambition, and it uses ambitious means to communicate. As such, we knew we had to be consistent with our brand positioning throughout our ecosystem. 

It should be said that the banking category is very homogeneous in its messaging in Canada, so our first instinct was to try and set BDC apart from the rest. We took a more poetic approach that centred on metaphors and musicians.

When it came to the writing, the mechanics were deliberately simple - we took a statistic we wanted to change and, insofar as possible, quantified our commitment. The signature ‘We’re on it.’ reinforces our determination to fulfil that commitment.



LBB> Where did you shoot, and how was the experience? 


Hugo> To bring the spot to life, we used a great mix of filmed live music performances, a huge post-production component, and some special effects.

We shot ‘Doors’ at the Symes Building (Toronto) and ‘Glass Ceiling’ at the Columbus Centre (Toronto) - places that also served as canvases for the post-production. Our post-production partner, Feather, used them to build the rest of the scene.



LBB> Who did you cast as the solo pianist? Why was he perfect for the job?


Hugo> We met with dozens of musicians at the auditions, and they were all very talented and very professional. But we knew instantly that Patrick Hewan was the right choice. From the very expressive style of the original piece he played for us and the dynamic way he interpreted it, it was clear that he’d elevate the quality of the creative product. He even has the look of today’s Canadian entrepreneur. We’re so happy that he answered the call.



LBB> The choice of song also fits the spot superbly. Tell us more about it!


Hugo> Given our ambitions for the campaign, we knew early on that we needed an original composition. We chose to work with production house Cult Nation, and they supported us through the process of creating the perfect piece of music to go with the message.



LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them?


Hugo> Mounting an impactful campaign means taking risks, so we had to support BDC in this creative journey, especially since the elevated brand platform was being developed at the same time. The campaign was also the first test of the updated brand expression, so we needed to learn and adjust along the way.

Andrès> The opportunity to elevate the brand message was also a huge challenge. We didn’t want to lose the brand’s resonance with entrepreneurs (our core target). Throughout the iterations, we kept coming back to fine-tune the brand elements and find the sweet spot between our narrative on ambition and what connects with entrepreneurs.



LBB> How have people reacted to BDC’s elevated platform thus far? And can we expect more from the Cossette/BDC collaboration down the line?


Hugo> So far, we’ve had very positive feedback - both internal and external - on the integrated campaign. A post-test is also planned midway through the campaign to survey our audience and make any necessary adjustments.

The collaboration between Cossette and BDC has been very strong and has touched on many different facets of BDC. We’d like to maintain our shared ambition, which served as our driver these past few months.

Andrès> The challenge we’ll face in the future is to continue upholding our ‘The bank of ambitions’ positioning all year long through various initiatives, and not only ad campaigns. We plan to embody this ‘all year long’ ambition!



LBB> This campaign signalled BDC’s intention to create a series of concrete measures to foster the growth of Canadian entrepreneurs. What do you have in mind, and who are you working with to develop these initiatives?


Andrès> To build the future, you have to be more ambitious and refuse to settle for the status quo. That’s why, in order to help entrepreneurs grow their business and ensure they continue to prosper in the context of the post-pandemic economic recovery, BDC has set a series of concrete, innovative objectives, such as being a key ally for underrepresented entrepreneurs, galvanising the contribution of SMEs in the achievement of net-zero emissions and a circular economy, acting as a catalyst for the growth and productivity of our economy, and exceeding the expectations of our clients, our partners and our employees.


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Cossette Montreal, Thu, 24 Nov 2022 15:47:58 GMT