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New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
 

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after

Reviewed Apr. 7, 2014 by Armin

Industry / Graphics Industry Tags /

Established in 1956, Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) is Canada’s national certification body for graphic and communication design, “establishing standards for design professionals, educators, and administrators” and providing the CGD certification mark to licensed professionals. Through nine chapters across the country, the GDC “builds awareness of graphic and communication design and its essential role in business and society”. Last week, the GDC introduced a new identity designed by Vancouver-based Dennis Boyle and John Ngan.

The Canadian flag is globally recognized as the symbol for Canada. In order for international audiences to recognize a new GDC mark as affiliated with Canada, it seemed appropriate to interpret the considered proportions and geometry in our national emblem, and apply an inspired approach.

The rectangles in the flag are bold and geometric — they are also naturally typographic. In other words, there is happenstance between the rectilinear qualities of the Canadian flag and the vertical shapes of a font. This added to the visual vocabulary employed by the designers.

GDC press release

New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Canadian flag relationship.
Boyle/Ngan found in Braggadocio a wealth of geometric shapes linking to the key creative elements that made up the foundation of a new GDC mark. Those elements were redesigned using Braggadocio’s letterforms as a departure point. The mark’s descender and ascender compare to the divergence and exploration of the design process and creative problem solving. As a three-letter acronym for “Graphic Designers of Canada”, the logomark is quite unique as a graphic statement (going beyond just typography).

GDC press release

New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Where Bragadocio comes from.
The mark’s implied geometric shapes speak to forward motion (arrows) in negative space, and strategic direction (triangles) forming a “C” shape which doubles as a stamp-mark for “certification”. The ‘C’ character is also present in the acronym “GDC” and the CGD certification mark. Thus, it made sense to pivot from this character.

GDC press release

New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Acronym detail.
New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Full logo detail.

The previous logo was designed by Jacques Emile Charette in 1968 so it’s been around for 46 years — a really long time for any logo, but extra long for an audience who loves to redesign logos. I never quite liked the previous logo, it always seem unfinished to me, like it got cropped on the sides at some point and no one ever corrected it. But it definitely had that 1960s-corporate-identity vibe of the Chase banks of the time.

The new logo comes with some heavy-duty rationalization, part of which is interesting, like taking inspiration from the Canadian flag and part of which is over-reaching, like taking inspiration from the Canadian flag — and another part of it is irritating, like the whole semi-circle and divergence/convergence stuff below. I love and hate the new logo. I really like the “gd” part, which clearly pays tribute to the stencil-ish approach of the old logo but the “c” is where I don’t know if I want to praise the new logo or punch it in the face. I like how there is an arrow inside the “c” and all the positive spins that has, but the shape of the “c” itself is not pleasant or serious enough. There is also something very discordant about a professional body of graphic designers that awards licensing using a font like Bragadocio — a novelty, punchline font. But perhaps it’s just a matter of preconception and trying to look at the type selection independent of its stereotypes would be healthier.

The choice of Klavika as a secondary typeface is very strange. I’m not a fan of Klavika and it will not age as well in 46 years as the original logo did. I’ll admit though, that it works well at small sizes, as seen in the footer of the GDC’s website.

The GDC is, of course, about people. A repeating set of semi-circles was incorporated to represent the many diverse “faces” that make up the national community. Each rounded shape forms a portion of a letter in the logomark, suggesting that people are truly at the core of every aspect of the organization.

GDC press release

New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Semi-circles.
The lowercase approach lends vertical movement to the mark with the descender of the ‘g’ and ascender of the ‘d.’ The mark retains a sense of presence — like a confident stamp — while maintaining familiarity and approachability.

GDC press release

New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Finding a lot of meaning in the ascenders and descenders of the logo.
New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
CGD-certified program logo.
New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Prototype covers for the CGD-certified program.
New Logo and Identity for GDC by Boyle/Ngan
Prototype posters.

In application there is not much to see yet; just a few prototypes from the presentation made by Boyle/Ngan to the GDC. Some show potential, like the repeating GDC poster, others (not posted here but shown in the presentation) show repetition of things we’ve seen before without really adding anything new to the visual dialogue. Overall, it’s a definitive line in the sand for the GDC and what I find interesting is that, other than the use of Klavika, the new logo and (parts of the) identity could easily fit into this collection from the Northern Army Preservation Society of Canada.

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