First brewed in 1959 Molson Canadian has never shied away from wearing its Canadian-ness on its sleeve. Whether it be the pseudo rabble-rousing “I am Canadian” ads of the late 1990s, the Molson Mega Keg (an overt play on Canada’s love of oversized monuments along the Trans-Canada Highway), or even the brand name itself. However Canadians have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with brands that speak so directly to the notion of being Canadian. So it’s no surprise that recent examples of Molson Canadian’s overt Canadiana often walk the line between patriotic and palatable by presenting Canadian symbols such as the maple leaf in its logo in a rather caricaturish manner; It’s as if the hyper exaggerated water-and-ice-drenched maple leaf and faux italic typography of Molson Canadian’s previous identity are quite tenuously saying “We’re absolutely, completely, and utterly Canadian (whatever that might mean).”
For this reason, Molson Canadian’s most recent identity refresh, spearheaded by New York-based Spring Design Partners and launched on Boxing Day, is both a return to form, and a rather refreshing step in the right direction. Gone is the cartoonish “leaf-sweat” (I probably found that about as difficult to write as you did to read), and faux italic wordmark; replaced by a bold and realistically rendered maple leafing rising from a gently sloped horizon, shining down on a crisp, clean, condensed Gothic typeface.
There’s a welcome feeling of honesty and authenticity to the identity that was sorely lacking in prior iterations, and yet Molson hasn’t walked away from the pastiche of Canadiana that makes up the core of its brand. While the campaign imagery, featuring Molson Canadian products sitting in super saturated vistas, makes no apologies for a wholly literal representation of the Canadian landscape, the logo treatment and typography in particular take subtle cues from Canadian souvenir decals and postcards of the 40s and 50s.
Short of re-issuing the iconic “Stubby Bottle” format, it’s hard to think of an identity that so thoroughly embraces its Canadian roots without slopping on the kitsch or caricature.