'Royalizing' the military on a budget

The costs of rebranding the three commands in the Canadian Forces could be kept low.

Costs for renaming can be kept to a minimum

Navy, army and air force officers, left to right, hold flags of the three forces at a ceremony in Halifax on Aug. 16 when Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced each force's name would be changed. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Opinions have been split regarding the announcement that the 'Royal' will be put back into the names of Canada's Navy and Air Force. Some feel the move is an appropriate nod to the nation's rich military history while others see it as a regression to our colonial roots. One issue most can agree upon, though, is the need to keep the cost of this name change as low as possible.

When major corporations embark on rebranding their enterprises, costs are bound to skyrocket well into the millions of dollars. British Petroleum spent a whopping $220 million in 2001 on a massive overhaul of its brand, in order to distance itself from strict petroleum products. The Canadian Forces, however, could very easily 'royalize' itself and keep costs down at the same time.

Vehicles: All Canadian Forces tanks, ships and airplanes are painted with, at most, a number and the word 'Canada,' and the RCAF logo on each plane. Unless a radical protocol change occurs, the military will not need to repaint any vehicle. However, if the decision is made to repaint, costs could be quite high. The average cost of repainting an airplane, for example, could be upwards of $60,000 for a full paint job. With nearly 400 aircraft in its fleet, the RCAF would need to spend in the area of $24 million to rebrand all of its planes.
The Royal Canadian Air Force fleet of CF-18 fighters will most likely not need to be repainted. (John Ulan/Canadian Press)

Stationery: Over recent years, the use of preprinted letterhead has declined, since it is much cheaper to print the letterhead with a computer document. Business cards, however, remain important and would certainly need to be updated to reflect the Canadian Forces' new command designations. Assuming each active member of the military would require a new card, a supply of 250 cards each would run the military about $871,000, with the potential of reducing that cost if they restrict the use of business cards to officers only.

Uniforms: Since each command will only see a change in name and not insignia, soldiers', pilots' and sailors' uniforms will not need to be tinkered with. According to the official Canadian Forces dress instructions, uniforms include a "CANADA" badge, a miniature Canadian flag and a command, force and formation badge, which will remain the same after the name change. Even if the military decides to make a change, costs would not be excessive, as wholesale emroidered patches can be bought at 5 cents each. With about 67,000 active personnel, at 4 patches each, costs could be kept well under $20,000.

Bases: As announced, the name of the entire Canadian military command will still be Canadian Forces. At the moment, each base is branded with that name, no matter if it's an army or navy base (e.g. CFB Trenton, CFB Halifax). As long as this trend continues, no signage will need to be changed on any base.