At the Intersection of Place Branding and Political Branding: Canadian Banknote Iconography and Political Priorities

Title: At the Intersection of Place Branding and Political Branding: Canadian Banknote Iconography and Political Priorities
Authors: Champagne, Andrew
Date: 2014-08-11
Abstract: In 2012, the Bank of Canada began to release a new series of banknotes into circulation. Made of polymer and expected to last 2.5 times longer than previous versions, according to the Bank, these banknotes represent leading-edge technology and will expand the frontiers of banknote security. At the same time, compared to the previous “Canadian Journey” series, the overall iconography of the “Frontier” series has been noticeably changed. Over the course of their lifespan, more international visitors will be informed and influenced by Canadian banknote iconography than will Canadians. Throughout this article, I argue that the iconography of the “Frontier” series of banknotes is as much an expression of state power over a defined territory and its people, as it is a means to promote a particular view of Canada - both at home and abroad – that corresponds with the Conservative government of Stephen Harper’s political priorities and values. Considering that the Minister of Finance has authority over the “form and material” of the final design of all banknotes, I argue that Canadian banknote iconography is being used as an explicit means of political branding. In support of this, it is demonstrated that currency is increasingly being used as a means of mass communication more generally and through a quantitative content analysis of all banknotes produced by the central banks of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; I argue that there can be two different categories of banknote iconography, political and non-political. Not only is Canadian banknote iconography political, the overall change in the iconographic themes from the “Canadian Journey” series to the “Frontier” series is the result of a political transition from one political party to another and represents a visualization of the associated re-branding of Canada in the image of the Conservative party of Stephen Harper. Canadian banknotes iconography is controlled directly by the state, has been used a means of communication and political branding and now, as transnationalism flourishes across the planet, will become increasingly useful as a means of place branding.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers