As a citizen of a developing country, I am used to being treated as an afterthought by my municipality. Usually, everyday people like myself feel “blessed” when the governing bodies of our cities offer us a new service. At least, that is what they “think” we should feel. If the City decides to extend the subway line, as a citizen you should just cherish even though the stations are eye soring, and trains are painted in hideous colours. Again, coming from a developed country, I am used to that. But, to my surprise, I learnt that things are not totally different in North America, particularly in Toronto. Of course there are some exceptions. And Montreal’s STM is a case in point.
STM (Société de transport de Montréal) is the public transportation system of Montreal. About a year ago, the corporation rebranded itself, which transformed STM into a friendlier brand. Of course, STM’s branding efforts are not limited to graphic design. The corporation rightfully thinks that public transportation is more than just an essential service: there is no doubt that the STM plays a substantial role in the economic and social development of Montreal. Therefore, as a key player of the community, it wants Montrealers to have a say on key decisions. Right now, one of those decisions is the design of the new metro trains. Here is the respectful and responsible way STM handles this process: By asking the habitants of Montreal to choose what they like.
I truly believe that, what STM is doing is a perfect example of the future of branding. No more a group of bureaucrats decide on how “our” city will look like, without consulting “us”. I applaud STM for being a vanguard, and hope TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) follows its footsteps.
Today’s actionable insight: We live in a semi-transparent world now, and we are heading towards full transparency. Successful brands of the future will be the ones who listen to their consumers and respect their thoughts. This is not a nice to have, this is a must have, if you want to stay in business for a long time.