London-based design agency BrandOpus has revived Molson’s heritage brand assets and brought the Masterbrand out of the shadows, reasserting its position in the Molson Coors portfolio.

BrandOpus has refreshed iconic Canadian beer brand Molson’s identity, taking its heritage hexagon asset and giving it a new purpose as a mosaic motif.

As long-term strategic and creative partners to Molson Coors Beverage Company, the studio understood its business challenges well. When the decision was made to position Molson as a Masterbrand, BrandOpus set out to design an identity reflective of its new premium place in the portfolio.

The studio’s brand experience creative director, Ian Ritch, describes the project as “an opportunity to take an all-time Canadian icon and give it its swag back”. Having worked on Molson for eight years, the whole design team was heavily invested in making the new brand identity a success.
One of the main problems that the brand was facing was a lack of cohesion. Since each beer had a strong personality, the parent brand faded into the background.

“We needed to reassert Molson as the Masterbrand and define an idea beyond the generic or cliché associations of Canada, connecting the brand back to Canadian people”, says Ritch.

Through interrogating the brand’s purpose – “to proudly ignite a sense of togetherness for every Canadian” – BrandOpus devised the brand idea ‘We are Many’. This phrase was chosen to reference both Molson’s ability to bring people together since 1786 and Canada’s rich culture.

“On a cultural level, Canada is a mosaic, not a melting pot, where individual identities and communities are celebrated as well as having a shared national identity”, Ritch explains, adding that ‘We are many’ runs through every touchpoint of the brand. It is embodied in the photography, shot to reflect the many communities across Canada and the modern, dynamic illustrations that showcase Molson’s beer portfolio.

A sense of togetherness is also communicated through Molson’s reinvigorated brand icon – the hexagon. While the shape has always been a part of the Molson brand, Ritch says it had become “a little lost”, and so BrandOpus sought to “breathe new life into it and place it at the heart of the brand as a symbol of connection”.

The hexagons are perfect for housing images and other content. When connected, they create a mosaic pattern that builds “a picture of modern Canada in a uniquely Molson way”, according to Ritch.

BrandOpus made use of another historic brand asset, going back through Molson’s archives to find a script version of the wordmark, which was then redrawn and refined to house it in the hexagon. Ritch explains how the new mark was chosen for its “sense of movement and human touch”.

Molson’s two new typefaces aim to reflect the idea of ‘We are many’, giving the brand flexibility without fragmenting it. Azo Sans Uber provides “a soft rounded and approachable typestyle”, says Ritch, while the “more condensed style” of Refrigerator Deluxe allows the brand’s messages to “stand out with pride”.

Telling the stories of modern Canadians was a big focus for Molson, which was achieved through a journalistic style of photography. It was equally important that the images didn’t look staged or contrived and instead conveyed a sense of ease and warmth between friends.

“From small town to big city, rooftop to backyard, dive bar to at home, we captured candid and genuine moments across the diverse communities Molson connects with,” says Ritch.

To ensure that the Molson Masterbrand didn’t become lost again, BrandOpus also had to consider its approach to celebrating the brand’s alliances with the Canadian NHL teams. The goal was to ensure a way to celebrate the teams, their fandom, their brands and associated colourways without compromising the Molson brand.

“We achieved this by bringing to life each team’s core iconography – like the oil or senator helmet – reimagining it through our dynamic illustration style and holding it within the mosaic to create a seamless integration of identities that respects and celebrates both brands in equal measure”, Ritch adds.

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