ontario’s new trillium logo

An interesting article on Ontario’s new trillium logo appeared in the Toronto Star today.

Critics dislike that the Liberal party spent $219,000 on redesigning the logo (devaluation of design, anybody?). The opposition is outright accusing the Liberals of having had it redesigned to look like the trillium in their party’s logo.

I think they’re just resisting change. As ever, Paul Rand’s statement rings true:
The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.

Let’s ignore all the accusations and just look at the revamped logo. What do you think of it? I find it very attractive, extremely refreshing and more elegant and sophisticated than its predecessors. I think it’s an excellent direction for the logo to have taken. And look at the wonderful little representations of people coming together, disguised as the leaves of the flower – working together to hold and create and grow something beautiful. What an elegant visual pun.

Now I want to respond to the accusations directly:

Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory says it’s “a waste of money”, and the proceeds to ask why they felt the need to change it. A very clear demonstration of exactly what Paul Rand was pointing out in his quote, above. Tory has presented no reason not to change it, either…

I’d also like to point out that the similarities between the tiny, insignificant trillium in the Liberal party’s logo with Ontario’s new logo are based on the overall idea of the shape, only. Looking at the Ontario Liberal Party‘s website, the logo is so small, I can barely see it. But the trillium in their logo actually makes me think more of Adobe’s PDF logo than Ontario’s trillium. In fact, had it not been pointed out in this manner, I would have wondered why Ontario was using an Adobe trademark in their logo… but that’s another entry for another time!

The political leaders are just looking for a way to blast this new identity because it is so different from the old. In fact, I find it appalling that the differences between the 1972, 1994 and 2004 logos are so minimal that they are barely even noticeable (was colour the only change between 1994 and 2004?) and, if they want to complain about how much was spent on rebranding Ontario, I’d like to know:

  • how much was spent on those extremely minimal changes between ’72-’94, then ’94-2004;
  • which government was in power during those times;
  • and to whom did they pay their fees for those “changes”?

Then maybe they’d have something to argue about.

But, for the record: I say congratulations to Bensimon Byrne for coming up with an intelligent, modern and sure, I’ll admit it, pretty interpretation for Ontario’s trillium logo.






  1. Chuck Kelly Avatar
    Chuck Kelly

    I just designed a new logo for a client that is eminently more memorable and a whole lot less expensive. Who was the firm that got the assignment and how much money did they actually charge? How do I get on the government’s bidding list, or is it “By Patronage Appointment Only”?

  2. Christina Avatar

    The problem with design for the masses, also, is that a lot of it is about personal preference. You might love Nike’s logo, and I could just as easily find it banal. And of course you think your own work is better…

    I’m sure networking is involved.

    Are you attacking the process or the logo itself? I like the new logo, I just find people are attacking the design of it through the process that was used (which I don’t necessarily agree with either).

  3. Matt Avatar

    I don’t like the new logo. Very “let’s hold hands” type of feel. The old logo is great for recognition and display. I think it just works. I like that it has been updated as time goes on, but this is too much.

  4. Errol Saldanha Avatar

    It is not a question of cost — political parties have wasted much more than $219,000 taxpayer dollars on ‘updates’, which were not nearly as visible. This is not an exorbitant amount for an identity that will be applied across Canada’s second-largest province. However, it will cost taxpayers millions to redesign every application that bares the original trillium. The Liberal claim that application costs will be reduced due to a staggered rollout is simply untrue. We will be paying for this for years to come.

    What also isn’t true, is the claim that the Liberals changed the logo to resemble the Liberal Party logo. This accusation is unfounded as the two marks are not similar. The argument that Dalton McGuinty is politicizing Ontario’s symbol is a weak one. Bad politics.

    The real issue here is whether or not this new mark improves the image of the Government of Ontario — and it doesn’t. With all due respect to the “Liberal-friendly” advertising agency (which clearly should stick to advertisements), this new logo is amateur when compared to the professional symbol it replaces. It is a step backwards and all Ontarians should be enraged — regardless of politics or costs.

    The ‘holly-like’ illustration is more appropriate for a seasonal greeting card or tourism campaign than serious governing. The old symbol was not as fluid, but conveyed stability and timelessness… something we want to see stamped on an official government document. Besides posing reproduction problems when reduced, this feeble scribble will quickly become dated — if it hasn’t already. If a logo concept survives 40 years and it still looks current, there is absolutely no good reason to change it — unless it can be dramatically improved. The new trillium is not an improvement, but a step backwards… lost provincial equity.

    The old trillium is a crafted, timeless design and it should be retained. The Liberals should admit their mistake and revert to saved. However, admitting fault would be politically unwise, so they will likely follow through with this travesty. And the complacent taxpayer will pay for it — in many ways.

  5. A.C. Socha Avatar
    A.C. Socha

    The complaints from the PCs are just their typical political cheap shots. But I don’t like the new logo. Someone wrote that it looks like some guys in a Jaccuzi and I haven’t been able to shake that perception ever since.

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