A wave of new designs vie to be Canada’s 150th anniversary logo

December 16, 2013  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

This story has been updated

Check out a few newly released logos from the design community

Fireworks was one of the initial designs from Canadian Herritage

Unimpressed with the series of logos created to mark Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary in 2017, Canadian designers have responded with some ideas of their own.

The Department of Canadian Heritage introduced the five potential logos last week.

Len Westerberg, media relations advisor with the Department of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, told Marketing via e-mail that the logos were created in-house and tested in focus groups.

According to a report, Research firm TNS Canadian Facts spent just over $39,000 to conduct nine one-hour focus groups – six in English and three in French – on the logos between May 21-23.

The report said that no single concept differentiated itself as a clear winner, but said that the proposed logos – which went by the names “Blue,” “Shield,” “Red,” “Fireworks” and “History” – were praised for, among other things, “modern and clean design,” and nostalgia around Team Canada 1972.


The use of the colour blue is a “double-edged sword” said the report, symbolizing the U.S. to some and inclusiveness, diversity and pan-Canadianism to others.

But in an open letter to the Department of Canadian Heritage entitled “O’ Canada, you deserve a better 150th design mark,” Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) president Lionel Gadoury criticized the federal government for its “problematic” selection of designs and said that focus group testing is not a good way to determine which designs work best.

“Unfortunately, focus groups can describe their general likes and dislikes in terms of what they are being shown,” wrote Gadoury. “But at best this can only achieve a better sameness. Big wins and beloved designs come from those who invest professional knowledge, talent and passion.”


Ibraheem Youssef, a Canadian-born creative director working in the U.S., said that the logo design process involves contemplation, experimentation and sketching.

“One just has to look at these logos to realize that really none of those things is evident,” he said. “They all look alike, and quite a few of them use the font Impact to make an impact.

“It’s almost like they said ‘Okay, what do we know about Canada? It’s red, maple leafs and it’s got hockey. It’s a celebration so there’s fireworks.’ It’s like they wrote down all these notes, plugged them into Photoshop and zapped out a logo. It’s almost akin to clip-art.”

Youssef and Dave Watson, CD design at Taxi in Toronto, have created The150Logo.ca, an online showcase for designers to create their own design for the 150th anniversary.

Fifteen designs initially appeared on the site, but as of this morning, approximately 16 more were added out of the more than 100 sent to Youssef and Watson from across the country.

Algonquin College's David Bromley submitted this multicoloured concept. It is one of fifty new designs posted at The150Logo.ca

Creative director's Richard Marazzi's submission, published this morning at The150Logo.ca

A submission from MSTRPLN's Stefan Dukaczewski, posted this morning at The150Logo.ca

The submission from Geometry's Greg Mühlböck, now at The150Logo.ca

“Instead of just standing on the sidelines and idly commenting and bickering, we decided to take some action,” said Youssef. “We are visual people, so this is voicing our objection in our own unique way.”

Westerberg said that all feedback is being considered as plans for the country’s 150th anniversary proceed.

“No decisions have been taken on a visual identity for Canada’s 150th anniversary,” he said. “The five were tested to get feedback from Canadians on a number of design elements. We received a variety of comments regarding the designs that will be helpful. All feedback, including that which was gained through focus groups, will assist us in creating a design that will resonate with Canadians.”

UPDATE: The design originally attributed to Richard Marazzi was incorrect. The correct design has now been included in this article.

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