It’s not an uncommon narrative: Major city undergoes a branding revamp, leading to criticism and derisive commentary from a variety of sources – city councilors, local residents and – of course – other designers.
This time it’s the City of Vancouver, where city councilors voted 7 to 2 in favour of a new logo, earlier this week. Developed by veteran Vancouver-based studio Hangar 18, who have worked on other high profile identities like the Vancouver Airport Authority, Y Yoga and Trinity Western University.
Hangar 18 developed a number of different options (roughly between eight and fourteen), testing them in a variety of sizes and mediums with the city’s communication team before the final design was presented to city council for a vote:
“The simplified logo presents an updated image of the city of Vancouver as a modern, innovative and highly desirable place to live and work”
The new logo replaces the previous logo from 2006 with a cleaner, more modern and adaptable look, but has drawn criticism for its simplicity and cost – both of the actual re-branding process (which is mentioned as “less than $8,000”, and noted as the lowest price bidder in the process) but also the overall cost to implement on all city signage, vehicles, stationery and other collateral bearing the city’s logo – which is expected to cost in the millions of dollars over the next few years.
One of the most vocal opponents of the new branding is Vancouver City councilor Melissa De Genova (NPA) – “There’s been no consultation – not a single member of the public has even been asked if they even like this logo…We have over 30 plus people in our in house creative and communications department, so I’m not sure why we had to go out to Hanger 18…”
Whether or not you’re a fan of the new logo, some of the most concerning comments are the ones that clearly demonstrate a fundamental misunderstand of what is being paid for when you hire a design firm: Councillor De Genova remarked that she was able to replicate the logo “using Microsoft Word”, as if implying that the design was too simplistic or amateur to be worthwhile, while a local resident was quoted as saying “My eight-year-old could do that” after viewing the new logo.
Website Castanet.net’s article on the re-branding lead with the headline “8 grand for simple sign”, quoting another city councilor as saying “With all due respect to the designer, it appears that they went, found a font and typed it out, and put some colour to it, and we have a new logo for $8,000″
More concerning to some is the similarity that the new logo bears to the logo from the City of Chilliwack, about 100 km south-east of Vancouver:
It’s not the first time a major BC city has run into this sort of issue – when Kelowna re-branded in 2009, following a two year exercise and more than $30,000 spent, they ended up in legal discussions with an American real-estate firm over similarities to their existing corporate trademark. While the city was eventually given the all-clear, the lengthy process of developing that logo and the subsequent legal troubles were definitely unexpected at the time:
What do you think? Was the process for this flawed from the get go? What could have made it better? Do you feel the new logo is an improvement?