Inside the Montreal Alouettes brand redesign

The Montreal Alouettes recently introduced a comprehensive brand identity developed by Quebec city design firm GRDN Studio. It is the 73-year-old CFL franchise’s first major brand update since 1996, when the so-called “Angry Bird” logo made its debut (that logo was subsequently updated in 2000, with the word “Alouettes” replaced by a stylized “A”).


“This is a great step forward for the franchise,” said the Alouettes’ co-owner and lead governor, Andrew Wetenhall, in a YouTube video announcing the rebrand. “Every day we’re putting another block down on our foundation to take the Alouettes forward into our next generation of fans and full stands.”

In a separate video outlining the creative process leading to the new identity, president and CEO Patrick Boivin said that the team has often been identified by its past success, most notably its back-to-back Grey Cup victories in 2009 and 2010. “That was our means of communication. That was our strength,” he said, adding that the franchise wanted to be more forward looking. “We felt we had to find what connected Montrealers to the Alouettes.”

Sébastien Boulanger, director of creativity for GRDN, said that the agency met with more than 150 players, alumni, employees, fans and partners in developing the team’s new identity.

“It was essential for us to respect the Alouettes’ rich tradition, while also making this new identity more current and in better alignment with Montreal,” he said.

1. GRDN first experimented with ideas around the “A” in Alouettes before settling on the “M,” reasoning that it was a stronger choice to build design elements around. The revamped logo does a lot of heavy lifting, reflecting not only the “M” of Montreal, but also a bird (Alouette is the French word for the meadow lark) and a plane representing the Alouette Squadron—the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, originally formed in World War II, that inspired the team’s nickname.

“It’s modern enough for the new fan base, while also respecting the past,” said Boulanger of the logo, which also incorporates elements of the Quebec fleur de lys and the city’s logo.

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Boulanger toyed with the idea of changing the team’s colour scheme (the Alouettes did incorporate some green in their uniforms in the 1970s) before deciding to retain the familiar colours. “It didn’t work in any way,” he said. “Montreal has blue, white and red flowing in its veins.”

2. A new wordmark also nods to the team’s longstanding nickname, the “Als,” by incorporating it into the city name. “You’re wearing your city,” said Stéphany Martel Rousseau, art director with GRDN. The word “MontreALS also appears in a new line of apparel.


3. The Alouettes also broke with football orthodoxy by putting the team’s logo on the top of the helmet rather than the sides. This creates the appearance of “bird formations,” said Boivin. “The helmet is meant to unify the formations, and it’s through these formations that we’ll make it together,” added Boulanger.

The team also partnered with Vice to come up with the slogan “Tojours Game” (always game), which signifies what Vice’s head of creative Paul Labonté describes as the “resilience, passion and openness” of Montrealers.

Chris Powell