Honouring an iconic Canadian brand

24 February 2022

Almost every wall in the new Molson Coors brewery has been covered with graphics, creating a visual representation of the company’s past, present and future. Image courtesy Motive Media

By Holly Douglass

In the fall of 2021, Molson Coors Beverage Company moved out of their Rue Notre Dame brewery in Montreal and into their new, more modern home across the St. Lawrence River in Longueuil, Que. Molson was founded in 1786 by John Molson. In 2005, Molson merged with American giant MillerCoors to become Molson Coors.

With the interior of their new location, Molson Coors was looking to make a huge visual impact while maintaining a deep connection with the past. 

To help them with this task, the company enlisted the help of Motive Media, a large-format digital imaging company based in Bolton, Ont., whose work with Molson Coors has spanned decades. After many hours of consultations and planning, Motive Media designed and produced over 650 m2 (7000 sf) of vinyl cut lettering, glass privacy film, and digital imaging using all 3M premium films. Then, in October, three months after receiving the original scope of work, Motive Media sent a team to Montreal to install the graphics and oversee the project over a three-day period.   

Together, Molson Coors and Motive Media were able to use large-format digital imaging and other visual graphics to create an inspiring workplace—a brewery that honours the heritage of the iconic Canadian brand, and the three founders, while embracing the present and future of the company. 

The lobby contains images of years past, while incorporating the shape of the new Molson Coors Beverage Company logo. Photos courtesy Motive Media

Getting started: The concept, design, and production

Molson Coors knew their new space must reflect the company’s rich history and its founders: John Molson, Frederick J. Miller, and Adolph Coors. Moving from a location that had been inhabited for over 200 years was a big task. In July 2021, Molson Coors reached out to Motive Media and provided the scope of the project with a deadline of Oct. 29, 2021. A budget was established, and Motive Media immediately got to work gathering the information to get started with the design. Motive Media’s president and creative director, Kathy Cartan, flew to Montreal to go through the stacks and boxes of archives at the brewer’s headquarters. This provided a lot of the inspiration and images that were ultimately used throughout the space. Scanned photos from the archives, high-resolution files provided by Molson Coors, and some purchased images from stock websites were sorted and compiled as assets for the design work. After approximately 150 hours of design time, the designs were approved, and production began.

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Utilizing all 3M premium films, Motive Media printed, laminated, and vinyl cut all elements of the project in their production facility in Bolton. Printing was done on HP Latex printers, onto 3M IJ180MC and laminated with Matte 8520. This laminate reduces glare, which is ideal for interior corporate spaces, and it is also wipeable and extremely durable. Motive Media utilized 3M stock vinyl colours for various computer-cut portions, as well as products from 3M’s Fasara line for glass surfaces. 

The Frederick J. Miller meeting room. One of the boardrooms dedicated to the three founders.

Honouring the past while embracing the future

Paying tribute to the past was a huge theme and focus that was kept in mind with every aspect of the design. However, it was important to also incorporate the current state of the brand. There are various elements that include Molson Coors Beverage Company’s new logo with features of the company’s past as well. An example of this can be seen in the front lobby—the outline of the logo was used, but old vintage photos fill the space.

Molson Coors also wanted the main meeting rooms to be an homage to the past. There were three main meeting rooms, one dedicated to each founder of the iconic brand. Frédéric Bourgeois-LeBlanc, senior specialist of corporate communications at Molson Coors, said, “As the company stems from the merger of Miller, Coors and Molson, we wanted to pay tribute to the three men who, each in their own time, had the vision of founding a brewery that would allow, in the centuries to follow, to create the Molson Coors Beverage Company we know today.”

In the Frederick J. Miller and Adolph Coors meeting rooms, a portrait of the founder (printed on canvas material and stretched over custom frames) and examples of their legacies were showcased. By using old photos and handwritten texts as the main source of design inspiration, their histories were brought back to life in the form of digital imaging.

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Some of the other meeting rooms had a more modern feel and were named for ingredients used in the beer making process (barley, yeast, wheat, hops, water).

3M’s Fasara “Cloud” was applied to the glass walls of the meeting rooms to provide privacy, but also openness and to allow light to shine through.

In the John Molson meeting room, the brewery’s showcase boardroom, an original oil painting of John Molson is the main focal point, surrounded by old photos of various contributions of the Molson family throughout the years that went far beyond the beer industry (a bank, steamboat, hospital, etc.)

The Adolph Coors meeting room.

Another way the heritage was incorporated was with the iconic “Molson clock.” At the original brewery, there was a specially designed clock that was mounted on the exterior of the building which had been there since the 1950s. It was originally designed and built so that it could be seen for miles and mounted on the tallest point of the building, right next to the logo. The clock could not be moved into the new location, but a small replica “skeletal clock” (a clock where the inner workings are hidden) was mounted to the lobby wall. The clock face was cut from plexiglass, wrapped in 3M film, and the hands and inner workings were supplied by a clockmaker who specializes in building clocks that only have the hands visible without a surrounding case (the inner workings of the clock were hidden behind the wall).

The project’s biggest reminder of the roots of the company was applied at the employee entrance. A massive mural of the original brewery is situated on the main facing wall of the staff lobby. This image was purchased from a stock image site and Motive Media’s graphic designer, Amy Syvret, applied many filters and did additional Photoshop work to the image to allow for it to be a whopping 13.4 m (44 ft.) wide and 5.5 m (18 ft.) high. It serves as a reminder to every employee as they enter the workplace that there is a long and rich history of Molson Coors. It also serves as a nostalgic piece for the many employees that have been working with the brand for years.

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When asked how employees feel about the new space, Bourgeois-LeBlanc replied, “The main feedback we have received is that this renewed look brings soul and life to our workplace. Our people are quite motivated and feel that they are participating in writing a new chapter in the rich and voluminous history of Molson Coors.”

This vast project serves as a great example of how interior surfaces at a workplace can tell a story all on their own. With some imagination, good design, quality materials, and a willingness to think outside the box, interior spaces can be transformed from sterile, unexciting surroundings to pleasing, historical, and inspiring environments.

The John Molson meeting room, the brewery’s showcase boardroom. John Molson’s legacy is displayed on the walls – a legacy that spanned further than the founding of Molson in 1786.

Holly Douglass has over 25 years of experience in the graphics industry from production to operations to sales. She is currently director of sales for Motive Media in Bolton, Ont. For more information, contact her via email at holly@motivemedia.ca[1].

Endnotes:
  1. holly@motivemedia.ca: mailto:holly@motivemedia.ca

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