Established in 1991, Canada Snowboard is the national governing body for snowboarding in Canada and oversees athlete participation at FIS World Cup, World Championships, World Snowboard Tour, and Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The non-profit organization also organizes national events and works with its twelve regional members to provide a platform for competitive snowboarding. Yesterday, Canada Snowboard introduced a new identity designed by Vancouver, Canada-based Hulse & Durrell.
The emblem contains three elements. A snowy mountain represents the field of play. The inverted maple leaf reflects Canada and the counterculture roots of snowboarding. And, a black diamond, the most badass run on the mountain.
The old logo was kind of wicked in its own regard, with a funky wordmark and a bold “CS” monogram but perhaps it didn’t feel completely like an organization with authority. The new logo does two remarkable, almost inconceivable, things: 1) there is no red and 2) it, literally, turns the maple leaf on its head, which one would think is punishable by Canadian law with a maximum penalty of writing ten times on a chalkboard “I will not turn our national symbol upside down”. Joking aside, turning the maple leaf upside down to create a snowy peak is jealousy-inducing-level genius and then putting it inside a black diamond — an identifiable icon in ski slopes used to label a slope as the most challenging — adds conceptual grounding to complete a brilliant icon.
Complemented by a condensed sans serif, the full logo has a bold, confident look that feels like it belongs in the more expressive graphic world of snowboarding but also achieves a sense of authority.
The institutional applications are straightforward, all still impressively in black only. Things get more colorful in other applications…
On top of a neutral core, we mixed in 90s-inspired gradients, 80s-inspired patterns and 70s-inspired typography with irony and sincerity at the same time.
National events can expand into vibrant color and typographic palettes that feel like a matured, grown-up version of the 1990s X Games aesthetics. The icon and condensed sans serif serve as the connecting thread between these. I also want to give a shout out to a groovy script used in these images, in the guidelines, and in the website (it’s also on the business cards): TT Milks Script. It’s the kind of font that looks great on a type specimen but then you wonder “what in the hell am I going to use it for?” and here it adds a touch of whimsy but when blended in all the black and bold typography it looks pretty bad-ass.
I’m not cool enough to be the target audience but it’s possible that Snowboard Canada and Hulse & Durrell have created an icon that has the potential to become a lifestyle brand, where beanies and goggles and t-shirts with the icon alone can be worn and the audience feels like part of a cool tribe, which is something that is very hard to do for any national governing body of any sport, where they always come across as mom and dad but this one feels like a colleague who would just as easily go rip with you. I don’t even know if “rip” is a snowboarding term but that’s why the most extreme sports I play is crossing busy roads while running.