The Canadian (Logo) Conundrum

Logos can be very touchy subjects, even in non-designer circles. Last month Ottawa unveiled five (sad? stale?) logo designs to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary to “mixed reviews” by focus groups and a slew of suggestions from some in Canada’s design community.  Complaints ranged from “too Petro-Canny” to “looks like a doily.”  The backlash on the proposed designs even prompted a Toronto PR firm to offer $25,000 this week to the person or team who comes up with the best logo.


Now The Globe and Mail has offered up eight proposed redesigns of the City of Toronto’s logo.  This initiative isn’t related to a formal city procedure or anniversary, rather just an exercise in general city improvement.  While not explicitly mentioned, our guess is it’s tied to our newfound global reputation as the home of “Toronto’s crack smoking mayor.”

Toronto’s current logo was selected by city council in 1998.  (Ironically, Toronto’s project manager of corporate identity and branding’s name is Christopher Brands. This may be funny only to us marketing geeks.)  Eight designers’ ideas, including one from Globe and Mail’s graphic editor, were shared this weekend.  They pay homage to everything from the ROM Crystal to our multiculturalism to the recent condo building boom.

View and vote for your favorite online.  The current frontrunner is Matt Blackett’s.  “Toronto is known for its neighbourhoods.  Officially, the city recognizes 140 neighbourhoods, so there are 140 circles in the logo representing each of those.”


It wouldn’t be surprising if this also sparks a similar – if unofficial — call for entries by dozens of other designers.  While redesigning city logos is a tenuous affair, for a designer it can be financially rewarding.  The city of Melbourne, Australia spent $625,000 on its redesign in 2009.

What do you think of the proposed Canada 150 and Toronto city logo designs?

  • Thain Lurk

    They are terrible logo designs. Large cities require a lot of due diligence to make sure the best creative solution is obtained. These are what I call gut instinct logos, first feeling and idea that comes to mind which is a great exercise but not a way to pick a logo that represents the masses

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