vancouver-city-logo-pitchforks-villagers-torches

The Canadian city of Vancouver announced their spiffy new logo to a collective “meh.” Only when the $8000 price tag became public did the Internet have its way with the logo and everyone involved.

Another day, another logo design flip out on Twitter, Facebook and in the comment sections of the various news organizations currently reporting on it. The logo in the barrel this time is the new design for The City of Vancouver, the most Western province in Canada. Main point of contention Logo Go Round News
is the price tag, $8K of taxpayers money, for the new branding when everyone seems quite content with the old one. People losing their minds about logo changes isn’t new, it’s almost a rite of passage for any roll-out, and I’m always hesitant to pile on a logo price tag because I’ve no way of knowing what the deliverables entail. Is it simply the delivery of digital assets and a bunch of logo files or is it a full brand workup? I’ve worked on some very pricey re-brands myself and I know that the sticker price can sometimes cover far more than pushing some vectors around a screen. I’m also not privy to the design process behind the mark – was this an agonizing “design by committee” affair that dragged on for months with creative solutions being neutered with each round of revisions? Who knows.

So we’re gonna rag on it anyways.

Let’s do some digging, starting with a look at the current (soon to be old) one:old-vancouver-logoSafe. Perfunctory. Not terribly earth-shattering, not very localized but nothing to carp about either. It is, or rather was, okay. Now let’s take a look at the new one:new-vancouver-logoHoh boy. A couple of things – I grabbed this off the internet so it may not be the final/final version (that happens) but we can break it down. This is not a logo. It is in the neighborhood of being a wordmark, a piece of typographic fluff employing Gotham, an off-the-shelf font that can be downloaded for free (not sure about the font licensing involved.) The colors are listless and the kerning (especially between the V & A, a common problematic combo for inexperienced designers) is way, way off.vancouver-city-logo-kerning I’m usually one of the guys nerdsplaining why the seemingly high cost of a new logo isn’t a big deal, but no wonder folks are losing their mind over this eight grand price tag. To illustrate how banal and non-Vancouveresque this design is, we can do this – city-of-vancouver-other-cities – and none stand out as being more or less relevant. As much as I hate the pitchforks and torches over every single logo announcement, this seems to have some merit.

The rationale.

A report filed by City of Vancouver staff explains that the city commissioned the redesign to give the city a new visual identity that’s ahem, “in line with the times.” It also notes that the city’s identity “had not been updated in more than a decade” and a simpler design would be better understood by those for whom English is not a first language. One of the goals was a mark that’s easily adapted for social media channels (not to quibble, but it ain’t that. Here’s why.) The style guide for the logo goes something like this:vancouver-city-logo-style-guideNo using different colors. No rearranging the font configuration. And definitely no Comic Sans typography.

Reactions.

The villagers of Twitter grabbed their pitchforks and torches and took to their platform. They were not kind. Like at all –

Aaaaaand.. it’s approved.

According to Global News who’ve been following the story, City Council approved the new logo on Wednesday with two council members opposing adoption. To make matters worse, the new design will be rolled out incrementally – first digitally and then onto new documents. In an ironic twist, “changes to the city’s six ‘welcome’ signs will have to wait since this year’s budget cannot accommodate the $25,000 (each) cost.”

This is the stuff that gives logos, designers, and the design of logos, a really, really bad rap, especially with a public that doesn’t really understand the complexities of branding to begin with. On the other hand, if any municipality needs a quickly knocked out wordmark for eight thou, you know where to reach us.

Update:

As the social media firestorm swirled about this new logo, new accusations came to light – that the logo may have been, ahm, over-influenced by another Canadian city’s logo, said city being just down the highway. “How is that even possible?” you may ask, as we did ourselves, but that was before taking a look at this article by the CBC. vancouver-city-chilliwack-logo-similaritiesTurns out the new City of Vancouver logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the City of Chilliwack logo. That logo was designed way back in 2011 and announced by the city here.

Update 2:

Aaaaaand.. it’s not approved. After the Vancouver design community penned an open letter about the debacle, word is drifting out that the logo rollout has been shelved, for the time being anyway. Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson has apparently put the brakes on the new design, saying it won’t be used on anything just yet, pending “discussions” with said community.

“I think when a number of design professionals, there was a significant number of them, weighed in and said ‘we’d like to be more involved in the process and we think more is possible,’ I think it’s worth exploring that,”

Robertson is quoted as saying. The newer logo (or not) will be announced (or not) in the next couple of months.