Pictou County designers weigh in on governments Canada 150 anniversary logos

John Brannen
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NEW GLASGOW – Logos and symbols for the upcoming 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation should unite the country.

John Ashton of Ashton Creative Designs in Bridgeville looks at some of the logos and symbols he has made over the past 40 years. Five logos created by Heritage Canada for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations have received mixed reviews after being released last week. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

It seems that Heritage Canada has done just that – in criticism of five logos it has released as potential logos for the anniversary celebration.

Nine focus groups in B.C., Ontario and Montreal noted the symbols look Disneylandish, like a hockey puck, beer label and like the Petro-Canada logo. The proposed logos were all designed in-house at Canadian Heritage.

The result of the focus group is that no single concept differentiated itself as a clear winner.

John Ashton of Ashton Creative Designs in Bridgeville has been creating logos and symbols for corporations and organizations for the last 40 years.

Upon first glance of the logos, he said they’re all but a good start.

“Of course the maple leaf is known all over as Canada,” said Ashton. “And that’s been incorporated into all these designs.”

He has created over 200 logos and symbols for organizations including Pictou County Yoga, the Chamber of Commerce, CCRSB, LORDA and many more. While much has changed over the years with the advent of computers and design software, the principles remain unchanged.

“Looking at something as important as Canada’s 150th birthday, you’ve got to have a good knowledge of Canadian history, our strengths and why we exist.”

Ashton’s admits it would be a daunting task for anyone to create a unifying symbol or logo for all Canada.

“Since it has to encompass from sea to sea to sea, there are many variables.”

He noted Canada’s multicultural and multiethnic society, which would undoubtedly be a part of a logo. Designers have to be careful in recognizing that things used for celebrations, such as fireworks, in one part of the world may be frowned upon in others. Getting past these hurdles is crucial.

“National symbols that are widely accepted, like the maple leaf, have strength and character in any country and language,” said Ashton. “It’s a very powerful promotional tool.”

Steven Wark, a creative director with Bullrush Communications, said that these aren’t designs Canadians could be proud of.

“I must say that these logos represent pretty bad concepts considering their origin (Heritage Canada). I can understand why they would be taking flak for these designs – everything looks too borrowed or like stock art.”

He noted that it reflects a growing trend in government and business to complete projects in house often at an exorbitant rate.

“If someone would compensate me like that, I could guarantee a stellar set of design concepts – and none would look like these,” he said. “So unless these were created by students or non-professionals, Heritage Canada should go back to the drawing board.”

When Canada celebrated it’s 100th anniversary with Expo ’67, the symbol designed by Hamilton-born Stuart Ash quickly reached iconic status. Made up of 11 multi-coloured equilateral triangles representing the 10 provinces and the territories, it formed a stylized maple leaf.

With the advent of social media, the Internet and the constant changing of what best conveys Canada as a nation, Ashton wonders if that cross-country appeal is possible.

“It’s a different world than it was back in 1967. Logo and symbol designers

had their own professional category,” he noted. “That is to say that some of

the better logo symbol designers were kind of iconic people, many were masters

at simplistic abstract designs that were ingenious but very functional.”

According to the Canadian Press, Heritage Canada has not selected a winner nor has any budget been set for the 2017 celebrations.

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Organizations: Heritage Canada, Petro-Canada, Canadian Heritage Chamber of Commerce Bullrush Communications Canadian Press

Geographic location: Canada, Pictou County, Ontario Montreal Bridgeville

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