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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

“Room to make it real”

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After spending $487 000, with another $200 000 to go, Greater Montreal (not to be confused with the slightly smaller Montreal Metropolitian Community) finally has a “brand”.  The colourful “M” with the slogan “Room to make it real” in English and “Le Grand Montréal: L’espace pour se réaliser” in French was developed with the hope of giving the greater Montreal area (an area encompassing 78 municipalities with a total population of approximately 3 635 571 people) an identity as well a way to promote itself internationally.  Yesterday, The Gazette spoke to Laurent Pepin, a partner and senior vice-president at National Public Relations in Montreal to get his take on the logo:

“It refers to the fact the Greater Montreal region offers a physical space … for a pleasant quality of life, where you can earn a living and raise a family, but also have access to nature, waterways and the vast green spaces you find on Montreal Island and in the other municipalities of the region, but it’s also a reference to psychological space and creative space, and the possibility of realizing your projects, your ambitions and your career.”

It would seem, however, that Pepin may be the only person with anything positive to say about Greater Montreal’s new “identity”.  Kate McDonnell, writer of the Montreal City Weblog gave her take on the logo yesterday using her experience as a graphic designer to describe what a mess coming up with a logo can be with too many hands in the pot.  Today, Le Journal de Montréal weighs in on “le gros pouf” and The Gazette asks its readers what they think of the logo and the costs associated with it.  It can go without saying that most people seem not to be overly impressed.  Reader Wayne Again suggests a pretty good plan:

“An idea from a co-worker.: Let’s try to cut the cost by sending an upside-down version to Winnipeg and send a 45-degree rotated version to Edmonton! There you go. We just cut the cost by two-thirds.”



  1. I was thinking of this when I cope with my Seth Godin blogposts this morning:

    Your brand is not your logo
    “I guess the punchline is: take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.”

    I guess the amount of money spent is the story we’ll tell for a long time…

  2. The english version of the slogan is way too literal a translation …’Montreal: Room to Grow’ would have captured the essence of the message better (in my humble opinion).

    A logo does not a city make…

  3. I think it is ok… I would only make the font below a little smaller, but this is one of those designs that look much better printed than on a computer screen. Anyway, let’s focus on the urban projects the city is coming up with. I think that is what will actually promote the city internationally.

  4. “too hands in the pot”?

    Note that it took two years to develop this logo. That’s where the money goes – lots of billable hours, dozens of iterations and variations of logo sketches until finally they got one all the bureaucrats liked. And it may be the only single thing those 78 communities can ever agree on.

  5. OMG…. the English slogan sounds idiotic.

  6. $487,000 AND $200,000 to go??? For a logo? Why didn’t they open a contest to the people of Greater Montreal. We could have at least expressed our ideas for how we want to be branded. Maybe the end result could have come at a cheaper cost….say a trip for two to the sunny carribean? I would have been happy with that.
    What’s with the colors? Why not have some meaning behind it? Perhaps the colors of the Metro system? I figure the colors are interchangeable with whatever event or season they are promoting(I hope).
    As for the literal translation of the french slogan…how about we do keep it real. If this is to promote the Greater Montreal to the rest of the world, who in majority speak english…why not make the effort to come up with a proper english translation. Was money an issue? Doubt it! Instead of using or some other pathetic translation software, ask your bilingual buddy at the next cubicle over for a translation. I did and sure enough, “Room to grow” was their first attempt…a much better slogan if you ask me & as mentioned in a previous remark, captures the meaning of the french slogan much better.

  7. 400,000$ for a “logo”?If this is the best the “artistic” world of montreal can come up with it’s little wonder that Harper cut back the on the funds for “arts and culture”

  8. “keep it real” is not at all an accurate or literal translation of “se réaliser”.

    I hate the slogan and the “room” “espace” in either language, because it is an appeal to urban/suburban sprawl. One of our main advantages is the fact that not only are we a historic city by North American standards, but since we are an island, this has continued to promote fairly dense growth. Hopefully the new métro stations in Laval will help urbanise that island as well (while retaining existing greenspace). The space or room stuff seems more fitting for some place in the godforsaken expanses of the Midwest or Prairies.

    The big M is kind of cute, but I don’t see any kind of visual reference to Montréal and the surrounding areas. It was an important trade and meeting point for peoples here far before contact with Europeans. I don’t get any “sense of place” from the logo.

  9. The typeface of the M goes along with the weird 60s and 70s architecture that dots the landscape.

    The “room” thing is pretty awful in terms of suburban connotations. But Montreal is a French city (the region even more so), so who cares about the English version, really?

  10. The reason the English version is important is selling the region in English-speaking Canada, the US, and other English-speaking places. But, as I said, I don’t like either version, and both “espace” and “room have suburban sprawl connotations.

    I don’t see how it sells strengths such as Laval health r&d any more than central Montréal.

  11. Maria Gatti, space to grow refer to industry too. Space is needed for our bombardiers, Bell Textrons, Mechachromes, bio rnd, Cirque du Soleil, etc.

    Not everything can/should be built in a compact form in the plateau, you need to be realistic.

  12. “$487,000 AND $200,000 to go??? For a logo? Why didn’t they open a contest to the people of Greater Montreal.”

    Yes, that’s not crazy for a brand. Suggesting a contest is insulting at best. Maybe we should hold a contest to see which street gets sewer and water, or what lawyers we hire? Contests for everything, becuase nothing is important.

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