So does Montreal need a brand? Many locations that seek more tourists or more business investors have gone this route. In doing so, they’re following that fundamental path to generating sales – AIDA
A for Awareness
I for Interest
D for Desire, and
A for Action
It is so much easier to start someone along this path if there is a simple representation of what the location offers. In other words, you need something that captures the essence of what the place is all about. This is what a brand delivers.
Some locations have followed this brand approach with great success. Glasgow in Scotland is perhaps the most quoted. Glasgow was always eclipsed by Edinburgh, sometimes dubbed the Athens of the North. Glasgow was typified by the song by Sir Harry Lauder, “When I’ve had a couple of drinks on a Saturday, Glasgee belongs to me.” That’s so changed in recent years with the branding efforts that Glasgow is now accepted for its slogan, “Scotland with style”.
Whereas Glasgow had to reverse perceptions, other places have had the easier job of creating a brand or perception when there was no identifiable image before. Two examples spring to mind here. Kansas City has its One KC branding campaign with its theme that Kansas City is a smart city.
An even bigger challenge is to create a brand for a whole region. The East of England covering the six counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in England wished to encourage the influx of research-based businesses. So was born the East of England brand with its accompanying tagline ‘Space for Ideas’.
Their website sums up the reason for all this activity:
Strong brands are important. The principles of branding are the same for regions as for businesses – the East of England is competing with other regions to become one of the top European economies and it is essential that we present a clear and consistent message.
We have a powerful story to tell. It is time to put the East of England firmly ‘on the map’…
The Canadian Tourism Commission is now raising questions about the image of Canada and has embarked on a new branding project. The Commission does not feel the Mounties and the Moose Heads provide sufficient leverage on that AIDA path. So the Canada ‘brand’ is now evolving into the notion of ‘Canada. Keep Exploring’. This hardly represents a different direction but rather a different way of expressing the essence of Canada as tourists might perceive it.
All these brand examples provide a useful background to the question of whether Montreal needs a brand and if so, what should it be. The question of the right brand for Canada illustrates the extreme difficulty in defining the essence of a country that is so rich and diverse in strengths, features and attractions. Is a brand for Montreal any easier than one for Canada?
Montreal is already well known with a great deal of goodwill around the world. So what is gained by trying to distil all that richness down into a simple brand concept. Well it all relates to that AIDA concept. With a striking brand and strong promotion of the brand, it is easier to increase the number of ‘prospects’ at every step of the AIDA path. Montreal will increase its Awareness relative to its competitors. More of that Awareness will translate into Interest and in turn to Desire and to Action.
The ideal brand for Montreal will be one that captures the reasons why so many people feel so strongly for Montreal. It does not need to try to change the common perception of Montreal, given the universal goodwill that Montreal has.
So what is the shortest expression of why Montreal is special for you. Here’s one tagline in French that seems very appropriate, La Ville Vibrante. Surprisingly when loosely translated into English it seems even more appropriate: the Vibrant Ville. It captures an important reason for Montreal’s attractiveness. In addition, it reflects the charming idiosyncrasies of the English language as used in Montreal.
Do you have a better tagline? If you wish to add your own thoughts on a tagline in the Comments, your rights to the Intellectual Property in your tagline will be respected.
For information on interesting Montreal places to visit, see
Frommer’s Montreal & Quebec City 2009 Guide (Frommer’s Complete)
Montreal & Quebec City For Dummies (Dummies Travel)