Since its founding in 1905, the Canadian Club of Montreal has held over 2,000 luncheon-and-lecture events featuring a multitude of very distinguished guests. Just a glance at the long list of speakers over the years gives you a taste of the history of Montreal, Quebec, Canada and the world!

BB: Established more than a century ago,the Canadian Club of Montreal is a real institution. What accounts for its long life, in your view? Why is the Club still so popular with people of influence in Montreal 115 years since it was founded?

MHN: The Club fills a need for leaders who want to speak to the business community through  channels other than the media. We offer a platform for them to communicate with business people in a more direct and personal way. Our forums and the networking opportunities they provide are much appreciated. The Club’s creative approach to meeting this ongoing need ensures its longevity.

BB: What sets you apart? How do you consistently manage to attract the most distinguished guest speakers – people who are newsmakers in the business world, and in the social and economic spheres?

MHN: The members of the Club’s Board of Directors are very active in the business world and this makes it easier to recruit speakers. The Club has an excellent reputation based on the calibre of the audience for our events as well as that of the Club’s own members and sponsors. That’s a draw for CEOs who want to engage in networking and to build and maintain business relationships.

BB: BrandBourg had the privilege of working with you on revitalizing the Club’s visual identity. What were the most important dimensions of this project for you and your team? What were your objectives and what challenges did you face?

MHN: Our logo was recognized in the business community, but it was seen as outdated. We embarked on a strategic reflection exercise with a view to rejuvenating our image. The challenge was to reinvent ourselves while maintaining a sense of continuity with the reputation the Club has built up over the last 115 years. We embarked on this exciting endeavour with an open mind and without trepidation. The BrandBourg team guided us throughout the process in order to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

BB: How did you go about managing your expectations and rallying your team?

MHN: The Board of Directors endorsed the process, at which point a working committee was formed comprising the Club’s senior management, members of the Executive Committee and external people experienced in enhancing corporate identity. The external people played a very valuable role in the process by helping us to get some distance from the project. The working committee consulted with senior management and kept them up to date to ensure that everyone understood the process and was comfortable with the general thrust of the project. Senior management had an opportunity to comment on the various logo design proposals and provide some added perspective on the brand. We appreciated the attentiveness of the BrandBourg team and their creativity and flexibility in meeting our needs.

BB: COVID-19 has had a major impact on organizations like yours. How do you see the coming months and years?

MHN: We rolled out our new image in the midst of the pandemic – quite a time to be reinventing ourselves! We’ve been producing webcasts, and the elimination of physical distance has allowed us to collaborate with other Canadian Clubs across the country – something that we hadn’t done previously. When it becomes easier to meet and gather once again, the business community will need to network more than ever and we’ll be ready to meet their needs.

Marie-Hélène Nolet, is President of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Club of Montreal and Vice-president, Strategy and Program Support, at BDC Advisory Services.

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