Branding, the eternal solution

How to counter the image of corruption that hangs over the city? Branding, the solution to everything. Item looks back at a previous attempt to brand the Montreal area, which took two years and cost half a million bucks and arrived at this logo in 2008:
which local media promptly dogpiled on and mocked into oblivion.

At the time, again on the old blog (I’m excavating old Blogger entries this week!) I wrote:

Developing a logo for a major business or metropolitan area doesn’t just mean hiring a couple of graphistes to fool around in Adobe Illustrator for a week. It’s a huge undertaking involving first writing a brief everyone can agree on, placating numerous, often mutually hostile bigwigs and their supporters and, after untold hours of billable work, grinding out something that every stakeholder is prepared to sign off on. That’s why it’s unusual when a very good logo makes it through (this usually involves having a very high-zoot agency prepared to defend its design at every stage) and why the final price tag is so inflated. And bureaucracy means it’s always going to happen this way.

I’m willing to bet this logo was specced in response to reports that Americans are a bit scared by us, in the sense that they think we might be kind of snooty up here. A cheerful, innocent and inviting logo was called for, rather than something more edgy and sophisticated that could risk alienating people already predisposed to thinking we’re all French and snobby in these parts.

Given that guess, the logo works. The colours are cheerful and childlike and they’ve deliberately chosen gentle fonts that look like something from a first grade reader. Dig those one-storey A’s.

Later the Gazette got some high school kids to design logos, with a lot of pseudo-naive remarks: “it’s that creative process […] that really makes the students’ efforts stand apart from the logo chosen last month” – “why didn’t they have a contest among high school students?” Because skilled and experienced graphic designers ARE doing creative work, you dope.

Nngh. Sorry.

But can they do better this time around? I proposed this variation at the time, but…


I also noted at the time that nobody outside Quebec could possibly care about the distinction between Montreal and Greater Montreal, but I detect the hand of bureaucracy insisting on using the latter.

Branding. Feh. I heard a CBC radio person nattering yesterday about how Chris Hadfield has “improved his brand” so much from the space station.