The marketing experts at the Old Port of Montreal are hoping that the phrase, the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal, will become as familiar as the Florida Keys. Yesterday saw the launch of a brand new image for the Old Port of Montreal.
Choosing the right brand name is critical to marketing success. In Quebec, we have an additional challenge since the brand must work in both official languages. Port was just fine. From that point of view, Quays is not bad. The French ‘Quais’ is somewhat similar.
Where this new image may fall down is that the word, quay, is not a word that a good slice of the population is familiar with. Some hearing the expression, the Quays of Montreal, may assume that someone is talking about some ceremonial keys perhaps granted to those who receive the freedom of the city. Anyone unused to the word will hardly guess how it’s pronounced from the way it is spelled. Who would guess that it rhymes with key?
The marketers seem to have forgotten an important principle here. The measure of success is not that some people think the idea is great. That’s good. However in some ways, it’s even more important that you don’t lose a sizeable fraction of your audience who just don’t get it. Many people will not be comfortable with the word, quays, and will be somewhat surprised to learn how to pronounce it.
Perhaps with enough money behind it, the word Quays will do the job. However you shouldn’t count on it. My old college at Cambridge is called Caius College. It’s had that name for almost 450 years. Caius is pronounced Keys. It’s named after Dr. John Caius, who had in fact changed his name from Keys to Caius. Most people still have a problem with the college name even after all these years. Let’s hope our visitors fare better with the Quays of Montreal.