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Village Montréal: from Gay District to Inclusive District

“Raising a brand image, infusing it with a new vision and direction is not a simple thing. Representing the full range of 2SLGBTQ+ populations is a positioning challenge in which inclusion, listening and representation had to constantly flow throughout our process.”

Gabrielle Rondy

Executive Director, Village Montréal

Village Montréal, formerly known as the Gay Village, is a dynamic and eclectic neighbourhood known for its diverse communities, activities and businesses. Since the 2SLGBTQ+ communities have moved here and made the neighbourhood evolve, the Village needed to be repositioned to better reflect the acronym and to make itself into an icon of inclusiveness. 

How do we appeal to the 2SLGBTQ+ populations and encourage them to reclaim a place they have historically owned? And how can we share this message with those who do not identify with these communities and show them that the Village is for everyone?

The Société de développement commercial du Village de Montréal (Village Montréal) needed a partner to listen to its vision, to animate its mission and to develop a long-term approach to building and nurturing its relationship with communities.

Visit the new website: villagemontreal.ca

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Many-faceted thinking

So many questions, so much to think about. What is the Village? What makes it special? How do we translate an approach based on dialogue and inclusion?

To pinpoint the essence of the Village and the potential levers for a viable economic recovery, we reviewed the issues that had been highlighted in the ethnographic study conducted by the SDC Village Montréal and the nearby commercial development companies.

One thing was clear when we combined these observations with research on representation and the 2SLGBTQ+ communities’ spheres of activity in the Village: we needed to focus on the Village’s plurality — the many different voices, communities, businesses, activities and landmarks. We needed to give people a reason to discover and experience what the Village has always been: a place where everyone, no matter who they are, can belong and find an interest.

Diversity is alive and kicking

In order to experience Village Montréal’s vision of inclusion, we created a new logo using the mathematical “equals” symbol. This symbol, which extends out from the double-L in “Village”, illustrates the sum of all of the Village's realities, uniting the variables of a constantly changing whole.

Following this idea, the sub-head “Inclusive Neighbourhood” was adopted to convey the key characteristic to be adopted and embraced by anyone living in the Village.

And because evolution, change and multiplicity are often intangible concepts, the entire brand platform was designed to reflect them: different typographies, different messages and different image layouts. Because the Village is not a fixed equation, but rather the sum of its parts. It is in this spirit that the first brand pieces have been thought out and brought to life.

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A unifying digital ecosystem

Beyond the message, how can we support visitors and residents of the Village as they discover the district? This is the spirit in which the new Village Montréal platform was created. The site highlights the unique experience of the neighbourhood. On the new platform, colour, movement and intuitive navigation are conducive to an innovative and modern content experience and highlight the businesses, events and communities the Village has to offer.

A never-ending dance

The Village’s thousand faces, from its residents to its businesses and stories, form the heart of the experience, which all move together in a living dance. In order to show the ever-changing essence of the Village and the dynamism at its core, the website is in constant motion, from the animated images to the shuffle of information. The entire brand platform was designed to reflect the often intangible notions of evolution, change and multiplicity – different typographies, different messages and different visual layouts. The Village is not a fixed equation, but rather the sum of its colourful parts.

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Opening the closet to discovery

But how do you get to a destination if you don’t know where to start? To enable this discovery and attract people to the businesses that the SDC represents, stores and services are now found in a directory arranged alphabetically, complete with individual descriptions and handy information grouped by category. The directory acts as a tool to help guide potential visitors to their destination.

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Communities are stories

A vibrant district isn’t just about great businesses, it’s also about spaces to visit, stories to tell and people to meet. That’s why a section is dedicated to the community itself, allowing the SDC to create a rich fabric from facts, anecdotes and news, presented as dynamic articles.

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The Société de développement commercial (SDC) Village Montréal represents some 230 businesses located on Sainte-Catherine Street East between Berri and Cartier and on Atateken Street between René-Lévesque East and Robin.

Montreal’s Village is a world-renowned 2SLGBTQ+ destination that welcomes over 1.4 million visitors each year. The Village is known for its festive atmosphere and artistic programming; over the years, more than 100 artists and designers have held public exhibitions of their work at district events and in the White Gallery. 

Formerly known as the "Gay Village", the Village is now 2SLGBTQ+ and focuses on the inclusion of sexual and gender diversity, to make everyone feel welcome