A better logo for Canada

Canada’s Federal Government has released proposed designs for a new logo to mark the country’s 150th anniversary. Outraged by the quality of those put forward, a team of Canadian creatives have launched a website showcasing some alternatives…

Canada’s Federal Government has released proposed designs for a new logo to mark the country’s 150th anniversary. Outraged by the quality of those put forward, a team of Canadian creatives have launched a website showcasing some alternatives…

On December 3, news organisation CBC published an article showcasing five logos (top) in development to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. Developed by Canadian Heritage, the designs had been tested on focus groups in Montreal, Ontario and British Columbia.

The article claimed they had received mixed reviews: one was considered to look too much like a hockey puck, another was too aggressive, two were too bland and one reminded focus groups of Disneyland.

There was no clear winner, according to the report – but this is hardly surprising considering the standard of designs put forward. One Canadian designer said, “it looks like someone threw a hockey puck and a maple leaf into an automatic logo generator”.

The designs have been met with an understandably negative response from Canada’s design community. When designer and illustrator Ibraheem Youssef heard about it, he decided to take action and contacted 15 Canadian designers and art directors, inviting them to create something better.

In a week and a half, Youssef and his fellow creatives put together a website, the150logo.ca, showcasing 17 alternative designs. Many of the proposals still feature red and white and maple leaves but are considerably more imaginative than those being tested.

“Good design is about experimentation – sketching and thinking. You don’t see that in any of the logos put forward [by the government], and it reflects badly on Canada and how the world sees us,” says Youssef.

Since launching the site three days ago, Youssef says it has had more than 300,000 hits. He’s also been contacted by hundreds of Canadian designers who have submitted designs and is releasing a second wave of logos on the site on Monday.

“The response to this has been overwhelming,” says Youssef. “I’ve had emails from people all around Canada whom I’ve never met saying they want to be a part of it. Of course, I can’t show all of their designs – we have to select the best – but the spirit overall has been amazing,” he says.

Youssef isn’t expecting the government to opt for one of his alternative suggestions, but he is hoping the site will provoke a public debate around the subject and perhaps encourage the government to consult with creative on future design projects. “The point is to create a dialogue about what is acceptable – the number of hits we’ve had so far proves that Canadians care about good design, and there’s a wealth of domestic talent out there,” he adds.

RGD, Canada’s graphic design association, is also opposing the proposals but has taken a more formal route, drawing up a letter of complaint that designers can sign and send to local MPs to voice their concerns. “It’s nice that they’re taking the official route, but we’re designers – our voice is visual, and the power of social media is much more immediate than sending a letter,” he says.

Designs above by Andrew Passes, Melissa Agostino, John Mutch, Andy Slater, Dominic Ayre and Ibraheem Youssef.

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