City of Vancouver, can we talk about this logo?

Brock Ellis
Feb 24, 2017 · 10 min read

An open letter to the City of Vancouver regarding its new wordmark from members of its design and digital community

Dear Mayor Robertson and Council,

We are writing to you collectively as members of the Vancouver design and digital community regarding the City of Vancouver’s new wordmark. (Because a wordmark is a type of logo and since this wordmark replaces the old logo, we will use the word ‘logo’ interchangeably with ‘wordmark’ in this letter from hereon in.)

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New City of Vancouver wordmark / logo recently approved for roll out by City Council

As citizens of Vancouver, we are proud to live and work here. Our city is blessed with creativity, innovation, culture and natural beauty. Vancouver is one of the world’s most livable cities, and this City Council has even greater ambitions to make it the greenest and healthiest world-class city. Indigenous peoples have protected this land for thousands of years. Migrants from around the world have shaped its history and continue to shape its future. This diversity is one of our key strengths. We are a city bursting at the seams with creativity and talent. This is not simply because our dollar is worth less, that we are known as “Hollywood North” and “Silicon Valley North”. It is because Vancouver’s creative and innovation sectors are world-renowned for our skills.

With this in mind, we are deeply disappointed in the City Council’s approval of the rollout of the new city wordmark and specifically the misguided process that was undertaken for this approval.

A city’s identity is sacrosanct. It is our mark in the world. It represents who we are as a people and our collective values. It symbolizes our history and aspirations for the future. For many of us, it is the identity of the city on our birth certificates, driver’s licences and passports. For others, it will be the start of their welcoming experience to Vancouver. Civic identity is what unites us as a city and distinguishes us from the world. Take a look at the identity of some of the greatest cities in the world, such as the City of Melbourne, City of Paris, City of Montreal, and City of Surrey (see more examples in footnote). Those cities’ identities tell distinctive stories of who their citizens are and want to be. Redesigning a city’s logo should not be reduced to an administrative communications exercise as it has been for the approval of this new wordmark. There is so much more that could have been done, yet the City has severely failed to produce an inspirational mark that authentically represents and makes us proud of who we are and can be.

Secondly, we are troubled by the City of Vancouver’s decision to select the lowest bidder for the logo redesign and the severe lack of budget or comprehensive plan for the rollout of this initiative. On one hand, the City publicly touts the importance of creative and innovation economies in Vancouver, and justifies the development of these sectors as a primary motivation for this exercise. On the other hand, when it comes to redeveloping the identity for a city of our size, the City chooses to severely underinvest resources and time. To us, this signals that the City actually undervalues design and the creative and innovation sectors thereby setting an undesirable precedent for the future. A civic identity refresh can be a significant city-building opportunity if done properly. If the City is not ready to invest in a cohesive new identity with resources and time to do it right, it is better to not redesign at all than to do it half heartedly.

Thirdly, as professionals, we are confused by the reasons used to justify the logo redesign. The City staff writes in the report to Council that such a redesign is needed because “a simpler visual identity will not only be more easily recognized and understood by those for whom English is not a first language, but can be more easily adapted for social media channels.” Unfortunately, the selected design does not meet either criteria. It is an English-only logo that will mean even less to citizens who are non-native English speakers. Further, the new Visual Standards Guide provided does not demonstrate digital usage guidelines or express any diligence performed on optimizing the new logo for digital use. Justification for a design is one of the most important parts of the design process itself, and even more important when you are trying to rally a whole city behind a new identity.

Lastly, as citizens, we are deeply concerned that the wordmark was already used in distributed print materials prior to the Council vote as noted by CTV reporter, Penny Daflos. The recommendation on the City staff report was for Council to “authorize the roll out of the new City of Vancouver wordmark”, yet the wordmark was already in use prior to the Mayor’s motion being passed. This isn’t about whether a municipal logo redesign should be approved by City Council or not. This is about the integrity of our civic democracy. You have undermined democracy — a core Canadian value.

We collectively urge City Council and the City of Vancouver to reject the new City of Vancouver wordmark. It is an insult to the design and creative sector. It is an insult to Vancouverites and all who love our city. This is not a debate about whether the Optima or Gotham typeface is better or whether a logo is a wordmark or a rebrand. This is a debate about valuing our civic identity and the City’s value of our creative and innovation sectors. You have severely missed the mark with this wordmark, City of Vancouver and Council. Please, spare us from this new logo. This is not my Vancouver. This is not our Vancouver.

Yours sincerely,

Brock Ellis, Art Director

Bob Kronbauer, Creative Director and Founder, Vancouver Is Awesome

Amer Alkhatib, Designer, CBC Music

Gary Sylvester, User Experience Designer, Electronic Arts

Lyndon Mayer, Experience Design Lead, Electronic Arts

David McAnsh, User Experience Designer, Electronic Arts

Michael Barnucz, Producer, Electronic Arts

Trevor Van den Eijnden, Visual Arts Department Head

Kyle Thacker, Design Lead, Product & Brand, Bench Accounting

Craig Cullimore, Communications Designer

Andrew Fung, Service Designer, Bench Accounting

Rowan Weismiller, Designer and Front-end Engineer, Bench Accounting

Ross Howard-Jones, Product Designer, Bench Accounting

Taby Cheng, Digital Content Producer, Brand, Bench Accounting

Paul Michalak, Senior Mobile/Front End Developer, Bench Accounting

Sean Warwick, User Experience Designer, Virtuasoft

Henry Lo, Front End Developer, Virtuasoft

Novita Prasetia, Product Designer, Thinker Tree Studio Inc.

Nick Routley, Creative Director, Visual Capitalist / Popcorn

Stuart Popp, Art Director, Popcorn

Harrison Schell, Graphic Designer, Visual Capitalist

Melissa Haavisto, Graphic Designer, Visual Capitalist

Salina Vuong, Studio Coordinator, Visual Capitalist

Bennett Slater, Graphic Designer, Visual Capitalist

Justin Vaillancourt, Co-founder,

Zachary Halvorson, Designer,

Mike Klemarewski, Software Engineer,

Andrew Scherle, Design Lead, TDH Experiential Fabricators

Spiro Sideris, Software Engineer, Uber Technologies Inc

Gillian Damborg, Creative Director, Luvo Inc.

Oli Maughan, Community Manager, Luvo Inc.

Judy Bau, Creative Services Project Manager, Luvo Inc.

Peter Chlebak, Art Director, Luvo Inc.

Kristian Hay, Senior Designer, Native Shoes

Justin Rellinger, Graphic Designer, Native Shoes

Ziggy Linklater, Designer, Vega

Alyse Adlard, Product Designer, Shopify

Denis Suhopoljac, Design Director, SUHO

Denise Villanueva, Product Designer

Felix Hyun Jae Cha, Video / Motion Designer

Ricky Knight, User Experience Manager

Topp Brocales, Product Designer

Matt Coady, UI Developer

Troy Hibbs, Co-Owner,

Shauna Bevacqua, Customer Experience Agent, Slack

David Priban, Creative Director

Adrian Lu, Product Director, Reelhouse

Steve Krueger, COO & Co-Founder, The Jibe

Francis Pilon, CEO & Co-Founder, The Jibe

Christopher Stott, Co-Founder, buddybuild

Niamh Redmond, UX Research & Experience Design Lead

Jen Cook, Art Director, Chimp

Michael Parks, Creative Director, Skyrocket

Mo Dhaliwal, Director of Strategy, Skyrocket Digital

Kei Ogasawara, Graphic Designer, Skyrocket Digital

Ben Shackleton, Developer, Skyrocket Digital

Marie Lamouret, UX Designer, Skyrocket Digital

Jamie Spittal, Lead Developer, Skyrocket Digital

Sanaz Afshar, Scrum Master, Skyrocket Digital

Nick McWilliams, Account Strategist, Skyrocket Digital

Graeme Berglund, Artist, Arts Management, MNMNT

Boris Chow, Lead Designer, 80ELEMENTS

Peter Hrynkow, Software Engineer, Experience Designer

Mitra Mansour, Designer + Creative Strategist

Dan Nanasi, UX Strategist

Jacqueline Cullimore, Web Developer and Online Content Manager

Chad Kerychuk, Graphic Designer & Asst. Art Director, Film and TV

Emily Tso, Creative Director, Chinatown Today and Hua Foundation

Kunal Sen, Animation Director & Motion Designer

Wayne Hsu, Marketing and Design Manager, ICITouchTech

Anita So, Junior Graphic Designer, Student

Melody Ma, Web Developer and Marketer

Adrienne Matei, Writer and Editor

Gordon Jones, Product Manager, Voleo

Tammy Nguyen, Graphic Designer

Belinda Williams, Art Director

Matt Rempel, Project Manager, TDH Experiential Fabricators

Alex Saar, Graphic Design for Marketing (GDMA) Student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dale Simonson, Design Educator, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Andy Chipperfield, User Experience/User Interface Designer

Lisa Temes, Graphic Designer & Art Director

Guramrit Singh, UX/UI Design Lead

Jessica Campbell, Graphic Designer

Katie Spires, Product Owner / UI Designer, adacado

Johnny Vo, Designer, Hexonet

Erin Raimondo, Content & Engagement Strategist, UBC

Terri Kennedy, Communications Designer

Dennis Thisner, Quality Assurance Engineer

Pindie Dhaliwal, Director of Business Development

Solomon Hsu, Digital Producer, Teekay Corporation

Paul Wood, Art Director, Graphic Designer

Nick Fruhling, Product Design, Chimp

Trevor Storey, Graphic Designer

Lindsey Hampton, Graphic Designer

Mairin Deery, Graphic Designer, Scope Creative

Nicole Phillips, Graphic Designer

Ashley Marie, Graphic Designer, Lonely Cloud Design

HïMY SYeD, Founding Editor, VancouverWiki

Samantha Rousseau, Digital Strategist

Brandon Lal, Graphic Designer

Jason Cassels, Lead Designer at 42four, Co-founder of Riverbend

Sharon Hsiao, Communications Designer

Dhruv Narang, User Interface Designer, Virtuasoft

Rachael Currie, Digital Project Manager

Emily Arsenault, UI Designer

Lech Dolecki, Artist, Vancouverama

Nicole Brown, Front End Lead

Robert McInnis, Front End Developer

Eric Krtinic, Designer

Dianne Semark, Designer

Jean-Philippe Boulais, Designer

Russ Horii, Production Designer

Nathan Shubert-Harbison, Web Developer/Designer

Jordan Garn, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Fraser Valley Regional Library

Justin Penner, Graphic Designer, Red Symbol Design Co.

Leah Nyrose, Senior Communications Specialist

Scott Thomson, Co-Founder — OnBox

Adam Hartley, Co-Founder — OnBox

Andrea Chapman, certified Graphic Designer, Image Impact Design Studio

Andrew Nip, Experience & Service Designer

Stephen Hale, CEO, Hale! Marketing

Daryl Claudio, Art Director & Front-end Developer

Melanie Macpherson, CGD, Designer & Creative Director, Melanie Macpherson Design

Peter Cocking, Creative Director, Page Two; adjunct professor of design, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Lisa Taniguchi, Creative Director at WealthBar

Tyler Fawcett, Creative Director, Yardi

Caroline Tapp, Lead Designer, Launch Academy

Gord Brown, Interactive Designer, Electronic Arts

Foley Lynn, Front End Developer

Erwin Sanvictores, Creative — Livestock Canada

Elena Sarasom — Producer/Director, Georgia Street Media

Christine Baik, ECommerce Manager — Livestock Canada

Christina Peressini, Graphic Designer, Peressini & Co.

Shannon Byrne, Freelance Graphic Designer

Heron Hanuman, Principal, Double H Creative Inc.

Tyler Roy, Lead Designer, Stanley Park Ventures

Jenny Newman, Graphic Designer

Alexis Barbot, Design Specialist — Convertus

Matsuko Friedland, Web Developer/Designer

Miranda Sam, Marketer, Canadian Springs

Rachel Gertz, Digital PM Trainer, Louder Than Ten

Clay Yandle, Creative Director, Eggbeater Creative

Parker McLean, Creative Director, In the Rye Creative

Stephanie Donald, Creative Design Lead, Eventbase Technology

Clayton Wadsworth, Graphic Designer, Visual Capitalist

Marie Wong, UX Designer

Larissa Keller, Graphic Designer

Kayla Cherkas, Digital Project Manager

Mae Uy, UX/UI Designer, Eventbase Technology

Monika Waber, Art Director, Maisonneuve Magazine

Neal LaMontagne, City Planner; Adjunct Professor, UBC; Lecturer, Langara Applied Planning

Anastasia Chetvertukhina, Senior UX Designer, Top Secret Agency

Shane O’Neill, Architect

Elizabeth Marston, Front End Developer,

Liza Barcellano, Graphic Designer, Jukebox Print

Mayumi Taylor, Marketing Manager, Ann-Louise Jewellers

Syd Danger, Art Director, Adbusters Magazine

Arnold Chow, Senior Designer, Free Agency Creative

Anthony Incardona, Graphic Design Manager, AMS of UBC Vancouver

Bebe Zhang, Graphic Designer, AMS of UBC Vancouver

Gabriel Santiago, Interactive Designer, Camp Pacific

Spencer Marsh, UX/UI Designer

Joel Hanson, Graphic Designer, Iron Dreams Fishing Company

Martin Knowles, Owner/Photographer, Martin Knowles Photo/Media

Zephaniah Wong, Digital Strategist, Axiomatic Solutions Inc.

Sheri Poetker, Freelance Graphic Designer, Previously with DDB and Cossette

Oli Gardner, Marketing & Conversion Expert

Stephen Harrison, Publisher, furniture link

Casey Clements, Quantitative Architect, Continuum Analytics

Patrick Connelly, Creative Director / Partner, Make Creative

Kirby Oikawa, Graphic Designer, Kanata Blanket Co.

Patrick Shannon, Creative Director, InnoNative

Andrew Munroe, Web Developer, UBC

Gracelle Mesina, Interactive Designer, Engine Digital

Jimmy Ly, Art Director, DHX MEDIA

Bobby Lumia, DropBOB Designs

Kelsey Hannan, Co-founder, Critical Pulse

Josh Krajina, Creative Director, Curfew Creative Inc.

Gordan Dumka, Co Founder, Evolve Creative Solutions

Lou DuHamel, designer, Barcode Farm

Anand R. Mani, Designer

Robin Changizi, Creative Director, Urban Productions

Marcus Youssef, Artistic Director, Neworld

Crispin Hands, Composer/Audio Director, Lionshead Entertainment

Candee Clark, Owner, Candee Clark Designs

Nick Noorani Prepare for Canada

Kyle Lincoln, Logo Designer / Owner, Brandcouver

Sharon Chow, Logo Designer / Owner, Brandcouver

Tammy Brown, Creative Director, Lead Designer, Bang! MediaWorks Inc

Matthew Harty, Intern Architect AIBC, Shape Architecture

Peter Klein, Executive Director, Global Reporting Centre

Derek B Durand, Communication Designer

Kevin Smith, Instructor in Design at Langara College

Bruce White, Founder, RedTrain

Andrea Robertson, Information Designer / Owner, Hypsypops Design Co.

Tina Yan, Graphic Designer, UBC Information Technology

Daniel Susetyo, Interaction Designer & Front-end Developer

Arthur Fallick, Maxus International Systems

Braden Staudacher, Web Developer, UBC

Chris Au, President / Creative Director, Didax Design

Nicole Wright, Data Analyst, Vancouver Coastal Health

Wendy Chio, Graphic Designer, Emily Carr

Reza Rad, Creative Director / Co-Founder, MaxiMax Marketing and Design Ltd.

Terry Brown, Industrial Designer, Norco Bicycles

Paula Provost, Freelance Graphic Designer

Norbert Jakubke, Idea Catalyst, The Matchstick Marketing Inc

Richel Tong, Product Designer, WOKE Studio

Brian Krenzer, Creative Director, Noise Digital

F.P. Chan, Registered Professional Planner

Willy Wong, Photographer, Photos By Willy

Boyd Godfrey, Stagecraft Film Services

Kevan D’Agostino, Senior Design Consultant, Doblin Group

Steve Rio, CEO, Briteweb

Ezequiel Perdomo, UX Designer, SAP

Felipe Gasparino, Mobile Lead Developer, Jostle

Natasha Ali, Freelance Motion Graphics Designer

Jordan Yep, Freelance Videographer, JY Media

Kristen Murrell, Product Designer, Blurr Stuff design

Samuel Wisjnu, Motion Graphic Designer

Luya Tshimbalanga, Freelance Graphic Designer

Renee Ng, Freelance Product Designer

Bevin Middleton, Copywriter

Samantha Flores, Interface Designer, Electronic Arts

Timothy Chuang, Graphic Designer, Anomaly

Matt Hocking, Graphic Designer

Quinci Cohen, Graphic Designer, Henriquez Partners Architects

Ariane Colenbrander, Graphic Designer

Ernst Schneider, Graphic Designer, Robert Allan Ltd.

Mahbod Biazi, Intern Architect

Colin Green, Creative Director

Taylor Singleton-Fookes, Web Developer

Derek Lam, Hidden Public

Ryan Golla, Hidden Public

Derek Atchison, Hidden Public

Adam Mountstevens, Graphic Designer

Lennie Lu, Product Designer, VoPay

Gaelen Norman, Sr. Front-end Engineer, VoPay

Blake Fisher, Product Manager, VoPay

Gurminder Boparai, Jr. Front-end Developer, VoPay

Jeff Burke, Owner/Lead Designer, Spin Key Media

Vivian Lau, Freelance Graphic Designer, Previously with TransLink

Paul Gledhill, Senior Art Director, Kaldor Brand Strategy and Design.

Martin Batten, Creative Director, Kaldor Brand Strategy and Design

Sally Douglas, Managing Director, Kaldor Brand Strategy and Design

Ljiljana Majkic, Graphic Designer, Teldon Media Inc.

Doreen Collins, Project Manager, Kaldor Brand Strategy and Design

Corey Cote, Freelance Graphic Designer, Cote & Co

Phoebe Tsui, Owner and Creative Director, Love by Phoebe

Terence Sawtell, Founder and Principal Operator of Goatsocial Creative Inc.

Stephen Smith, Graphic Designer

Pooya Salahi, Founder at Graphic Design Studio

Sean Mitchell, Creative Developer

Rinat De Picciotto, Communication Designer

Rupert Burr, Digital Art Director/Designer, CXLA Ltd.

Javier Puig, Director. Persona Creative

Sasha Goldstein, Freelance Designer & Art Director

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