OCS logo cost

People can't believe how much the LCBO paid for its cannabis store logo

The corporate branding for Ontario's soon-to-be legal marijuana stores has been described as everything from "stripped down" to "intentionally drab" since Friday, when the LCBO released its chosen name and logo.

Most people saw fit to make fun of it at first, calling out the "Ontario Cannabis Store" and its simple "OCS" logo as something a child could design (for the record, they probably couldn't.)

And then people started to learn how much that "safe, simple" branding project cost.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario confirmed on Saturday that it would pay about $650,000 to the global advertising agency Leo Burnett for development of the name, logo and brand guidelines.

"The name and logo are only one piece of the overall work from Leo Burnett," said an LCBO spokesperson by email to the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday. It also included "the development of the overall brand strategy."

Fair enough, but $650,000 is no small chunk of change – and people outside the worlds of marketing and design are blown away by how much was spent.

"That borrowed $650,000 could have been spent on anything else," responded one critic. "For many good examples visit your local hospital."

"Pretty sure they could have saved $649,995 had they just used someone on @fiverr," joked someone else, referencing a popular freelance marketplace known for sourcing cheap design work.

The LCBO has said that the straightforwardness of its OCS design was intentional.

Both the name and logo were chosen so that citizens could "safely and easily identify Ontario Cannabis Stores as the sole legal retailer of non-medical cannabis in Ontario," according to an LCBO release.

"To build a broad, province-wide brand that will be recognized as a sole retailer of legal recreational cannabis required thoughtful and strategic brand development strategies," said the liquor control board later, "and consultation from a variety of stakeholders."

As many designers are now pointing out in response to the backlash, even the simplest of logo designs don't come cheap.

"The OCS logo jokes are funny but actually there’s a lot of work that goes behind making a logo, even if it’s simple," tweeted one person, but "650k for all the branding guidelines, strategy, and marketing isn’t that much. It’s a lot of time and work and people."

"It just irks me cause it's always another case of undervaluing artistic careers."

Lead photo by

LCBO


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