GRDN is a design studio based in Québec, formed of Stéphany Martel Rousseau, Sébastien Boulanger and Hugo Savoie. Or as they describe themselves, the eyes, heart and mind. “You could say that one cannot live without the other,” the studio tells us. Having met while working at another company, Stéphany, Sébastien and Hugo formed GRDN two years ago as a way to create an alternative way for businesses to engage with their consumers.
For a recent project, the trio’s task was to reconnect a 70-year-old Canadian football team, the Montréal Alouettes, with its fans and its city at large. In order to authentically find a solution to the fact that the Alouettes fans’ interest in the team was solely based on its performance, and the team was losing more than it was winning, GRDN spent two months shadowing the Alouettes’ internal teams. “The idea was just to observe them, ask questions and come to understand them,” GRDN explains.
This thorough process allowed GRDN to develop a strategy for how it would approach not only redesigning the team’s identity but have a long-term impact on the fans’ relationship with the team. The result is a new logo which illustrates the “M” of Montréal, the Alouette squadron and a bird. The studio also created a new wordmark by combining the Alouettes’ nickname, the ALS, with Montréal to create “MontréALS”. This element of the strategy, in particular, is targeted at engaging younger fans and can be seen across new print materials and merch.
All of these decisions were bolstered by a more holistic change which saw GRDN reinstating pride in the city and the team. “Our first challenge was to reconnect fans and employees, as well as the players, with the team’s history, which goes back to 1946. From Herb Trawick, the first African-American to play in the league, to Pope John Paul II’s blessing of a Concordes helmet, we discovered tonnes of fascinating stories waiting to be told.” By placing logos on players’ helmets and social media which represented such stories, GRDN gave fans a reason to be proud of the team, regardless of performance.
A key factor of the visual side of the rebrand is the use of Grilli Type’s GT America. “It’s a classic font with some edges. It worked perfectly for corporate and bolder stuff. It really has the full spectrum that can adjust according to the different use case,” the studio explains. Used in combination with the team’s red, white and blue colour palette, GT America creates a graphically bold identity which feels contemporary, especially in comparison to many sports teams.
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