BMO appeared in 1817; therefore, it is deservedly considered the oldest bank in Canada and is one of the “big five” financial institutions in the country. It was named Bank of Montreal in 1922, and even earlier was known as Montreal Bank. In the same year, BMO went from being a small company owned by eight founding businessmen to a joint-stock company with 144 owners. Now the multinational organization provides retail banking services, conducts investment activities, and helps with wealth management. Twelve million commercial and private clients trust them.
Meaning and History
BMO has become famous for its high-profile advertising campaigns and unconventional approach to branding. He often changed slogans to fit the spirit of the times. He also had his mascot: a lion named Hubert. The unusual symbol appeared in 1911 but only made a splash in the late 1950s when the Leo Burnett Company’s designers created an original cartoon character based on it.
The bank also has an official coat of arms with a shield, a beaver, two Indians, and a ribbon with the inscription “CONCORDIA SALUS.” In the original version, the indigenous people were sitting with their elbows on a shield. However, the leaders demanded to “do everything right” because, according to heraldry’s rules, the supporting figures must stand.
The BMO name on the current logo was once the ticker of a financial institution on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges. Major shareholders are used to calling the bank “bee-mo,” so no one ever doubted that the merger should bear the name BMO Financial Group. Although the employees themselves sometimes abbreviated the phrase “Bank of Montreal” to “B of M.” This became especially noticeable when the post-war emblem appeared with the words “MY BANK TO A MILLION CANADIANS” (above) and “B of M” (below) on a black and white shield.
1817 – 1967
One of the first logos contained the phrase “BANK OF MONTREAL,” written in thin letters with long serifs. Both “O” s looked like a perfectly circular ring and were above the line level. The base color was black, but sometimes gray and white shades appeared if the word mark became the basis for the metal sign.
1967 – 1997
In 1967, the CEO of Arnold Hart Bank introduced a new logo called M-Bar. The original design was invented by Canadian Hans Kleefeld, who works for Stewart & Morrison. He created an unusual symbol, consisting of a large letter “M” on a rectangle. Notable was that the figure had a clear square shape, as indicated by the trimmed edges of the “M.” The blue icon was complemented by the same blue inscription “Bank of Montreal.” This time the font had no serifs, and the lowercase “t” and “r” were connected at the top.
The M-Bar was supposed to be a banner of change because, in 1967, a new Bank Act was released that allowed the organization to provide mortgage services to clients. This inspired management to launch an aggressive marketing campaign by redefining Bank of Montreal’s strategy and identity. The reorganization coincided with the 150th anniversary of the financial institution.
1997 – present
When all of the bank’s subsidiaries merged under the BMO Financial Group brand, the familiar M-Bar symbol was renewed. The designers made it white and placed it in a red circle. This badge was used even earlier (at the end of the 20th century) by individual BMO trademarks but only became widespread in 2002 after the restructuring.
Bank of Montreal is now light blue and has small, sharp serifs. The word “BMO” appeared on the left to emphasize the overall history of all units. In the short version of the logo, the designers removed the bank’s old name, leaving only the main identifiers: the ticker and the symbol in the circle.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The current logo of the financial institution is called the M-Bar roundel. It is based on the M-Bar symbol and dates back to 1967 when Hans Kleefeld (the famous creator of The Toronto-Dominion Bank, Johnson & Johnson, and Air Canada logos) created another masterpiece. He did not experiment with complex shapes but placed a stylized “M” on an elongated rectangle. In the early 21st century, designers depicted this icon inside a red circle to represent the brand’s transition to a new identity.
Both parts of the lettering (“BMO” and “Bank of Montreal”) are easy to read because they are in Emona SemiBold. It is a serif typeface with long serifs and contrasting stroke thickness, created by the French typographer Franko Lui.
The rondel base is bright red (shade # ED1D24), and the text is light blue (Ocean Boat Blue # 0079C1). Blue has been the official color of the bank since Hans Kleefeld designed the M-Bar. Striving to be the first in everything, BMO even began to call itself “First Bank Blue.”