Saskatoon's Remai Modern creates buzz following its new, $90,000 look

Remai Modern has generated some buzz on social media following Tuesday’s launch of the art museum and gallery’s new branding campaign in Saskatoon.

One critic says it 'looks like some 70s detective show theme'

Remai Modern launched its new branding at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market Tuesday. (James Hopkin/CBC News)

Remai Modern has been garnering attention since the art museum unveiled its new branding on Tuesday, at a cost of $90,000 for its new visual identity.

In a statement from Remai Modern, the museum said that the New York-based design group karlssonwilker Inc., was chosen to brand the art museum based on the firm's extensive experience and the strength of its proposal. The firm has worked with high-profile clients in the past such as Warner Bros., Capitol Records and the Museum Of Modern Art. 

A total of 12 proposals were submitted from a "mix of firms based in Saskatchewan, elsewhere in Canada, and the U.S.," the statement said. 

The Remai Modern art gallery on edge of the South Saskatchewan River. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

Remai Modern has subsequently generated some buzz on social media following the launch of its new look. 

 "I think it's, you know, pretty crappy. It looks like some 70's detective show theme."- David Williams, Edwards School of Business

David Williams, associate professor of marketing at the Edwards School of Business, offered both his subjective and objective opinions regarding the new logo and colours that Remai Modern has opted for. 

"My opinion doesn't count for much, but I kind of hate it," said Williams. "I think it's, you know, pretty crappy. It looks like some 70s detective show theme."

Can't please everyone

But Williams also points to recent marketing redesigns by Instagram and Starbucks as examples of public backlash to branding efforts.

"Whatever they came up with, it can't please everyone," he said. 

Remai Modern has changed its lettering and colours leading up to the opening of its new home in Saskatoon. It opens its doors next year. (James Hopkin/CBC News)

One local marketing expert thinks that while the new look will cause a lot of "divergent opinions," it's also a reflection of the continued push for diversity in the arts in the province. 

I think in terms of style it's bold, it's contemporary.- Garnet McElree, The Marketing Den 

"I think in terms of style it's bold, it's contemporary," said Garnet McElree, creative director with the Marketing Den. "I think it also starts a conversation. 

"Sometimes if something is too safe, or adopted too easily, there's also a risk then that it hasn't done its full job of reaching its potential."

Gregory Burke, CEO of Remai Modern, unveiled the new logo Tuesday at the Saskatoon Farmers Market.

"The brand, with the use of the upper and lower [case], is kind of Canadian. Very strong, but modest at the same time," Burke said.  "We wanted to express the fact that we were always going to be evolving and changing, and take you by surprise."

More meaning for locals

Remai Modern CEO Gregory Burke shows off some swag featuring the new logo. (James Hopkin/CBC News)

But for Williams, the new branding could have contained some more local content.

"I think one of the biggest mistakes they made is not using someone from Saskatchewan, given the climate of fiscal restraint," Williams said. "They went to the best, and they went to New York for [a] designer, but I think they need to incorporate some more local expertise."

Remai Modern has branded itself ahead of the opening of its new, 130,000 square foot home in 2017.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.