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New Logo for City of Vancouver by Lowest Bidder



Noted Feb. 28, 2017 by Armin

Industry / Government Tags /


This post is about the City of Vancouver Government Administration; it’s not a tourism or business development brand. “The City of Vancouver is renowned for its innovative programs in the areas of sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity. Bordered by the Coast Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is recognized as one of the world’s most livable cities with one of the smallest carbon footprints of any major city in North America.”

Design by

Lowest bidder (not an actual firm but the report made it clear they chose the mystery firm for this reason)

Related links

City of Vancouver administrative report and identity guidelines all in one (PDF)
Open letter from the creative community

Relevant quote
The City of Vancouver identified the opportunity in June 2016 to refresh its visual identity in light of changing city demographics, evolving popular culture including the increased reliance on social media for communication, and keeping pace with change.

A simplified wordmark has been developed which presents an updated image of the City of Vancouver as a modern, innovative and highly desirable place to live and work.


Staff initiated an RFP process to select a creative design agency with branding experience to refresh the City wordmark. The company selected was the lowest bidder and total costs came in at under $8000. Staff engaged a graphic design/branding firm to develop a new City wordmark that would meet the objectives as referenced in the Innovation Economy presentation

City of Vancouver administrative report (PDF)

Images (opinion after)
New Logo for City of Vancouver by Lowest Bidder
New Logo for City of Vancouver by Lowest Bidder
Department logos.
New Logo for City of Vancouver by Lowest Bidder
Logo with other city logos.

This is the biggest controversy of the year so far and given how bland and non-offensive both old and new logos are it barely registers as a true, cage-rattling controversy. Sure, there is stuff to get upset about — mainly the fact that the design firm was selected for its ability to be the lowest bidder in the RFP, coming in at $8,000 — but the proverbial brouhaha may not be fully warranted. The old logo wasn't good but I'll grant that at least it spoke to the nature-ness of Vancouver through the leaf motif. The wordmark was terrible, looking like QuarkXpress defaulting from a missing fton. Other than leafiness, and 10 years worth of familiarity, there was nothing to hold on to from the old logo.

The new logo is not bad. It's bland and generic AF but it's not visually offensive. In fact, I think someone was actually paying attention in how they aligned "CITY" with "VA" underneath and "OF" with the "N". Gotham is the least surprising choice here and at its best, it makes the logo look competent but, at its worst, it makes it look interchangeable: The logo could say "City of Springfield" and it wouldn't make a difference. It's important to make the distinction that this is a city government logo, not a destination logo so it's much more akin to City of Boston than, say, British Columbia. In a way, the logo doesn't have to scream "VANCOUVER!", rather it has to establish a simple identity for its citizens to clearly identify services, initiatives, and branches of the city government. I am not defending the logo — it is boring, unimaginative, and infuriating in its generic-ness — but it's important to judge it within the right context.

Thanks to Keith Arnstead for the tip.

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