On Vancouver's new logo

Vancouver's meh new logo

The City's new logo is not a lot of things.
It's not inspiring, it's not reflective, it's not exciting, it's not very good — but at $8,000, it's not a rip off.

I'm not at all suggesting this was money well spent — it's not. Of course the actual cost of implementing this logo across the city's print collateral, web presence, social media, mobile apps, signage, et al will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands (at least) of dollars. It's a bizarre priority for a city with so many real priorities like affordability and housing and homelessness.

That being said, $8k is not a lot to pay for a professional redesign of something as important as our city's logo. I'm happy that our city did not resort to the exploitive "design competition" model and actually paid an apparently local business for product.

But as they say, you get what you pay for — considering the ultimate outlay of cost to replace the logo city-wide, as tax-payers we would have been better served if the city took the time to get it right— and $8k doesn't buy you a lot of professional design team time to do it right.

Sure, it's scoff-worthy to look at the logo, easily replicated with the Gotham font and low end desktop publishing software (*with no manual kerning ability, apparently) — but in truth, the road to get to that logo probably took a lot more submissions, versions, and revisions that we can ever imagine. I'm confident in suggesting that no self-respecting designer would have submitted this particular work as their top choice. It reeks of what we refer to as "design by committee".

I suspect the real problem here was who exactly approved this design. A majority of city councillors (none of whom have design backgrounds as I'm aware) approved the logo — but who shortlisted this particular version into the staff report that was ultimately approved?

I suggest the real lost opportunity here was not tapping into the wealth of local creatives in our city to guide this design process, to critique and approve the final version.

It's a visual manifestation of irony: in a city hemorrhaging its creative potential that we can't even get our new logo right.

Read the full staff logo report here: http://council.vancouver.ca/20170222/documents/pspc3.pdf


Further thoughts on the new logo.
I've been thinking a bit more about this — in my own line of work as a graphic designer, we'll often roll out a new logo when the brand is stale.

People stop going to the restaurant or buying the product or whatever, so we rebrand with a fresh new look, and people react as if they are getting something new when in fact it is the "same old same old".
Think of those Old Spice commercials, they're still selling the same underarm deodorant your grandpa used to buy, except now it has hot chocolate man candy and a new edge for a new audience.

The late City of Vancouver logo was rolled out when Vision Vancouver had swept into power in 2008 with big ideas about big changes —promises to end homelessness and tax vacant houses, promises to herald in a greener, affordable and more livable city.

Well, ten years in and those promises and the logo they rode in on are both looking a little tarnished. With a civic election around the corner expect some of the older Vision electeds to be retired and replaced with some fresher, newer, younger faces. What better compliment a refreshed political brand than a refreshed city logo — a clean slate to suggest a new beginning.