Toronto Public library logo

Toronto Public Library's new logo proves controversial

You may have noticed some changes to the official branding on Toronto Public Library buildings, websites and marketing materials in recent months.

Gone is the classic, navy blue logo with its huge, all-caps "LIBRARY" base and two wide, Nathan Phillips Square-style arches — you know, the logo on that $40 t-shirt you probably bought from the Drake General Store?

In its place is a colon-centric symbol that TPL describes as "confident, curious, versatile and bold."

"The typography is accessible and welcoming, and our colours have been refreshed with a welcoming and cheerful new spin on 'Toronto blue,'" reads a blog post on the library's website about its new visual branding.

"Our new symbol energizes a myriad of experiences and opportunities to help empower you, and your library, to activate something great."

The logo was revealed internally in early 2019, according to the post, but only just started rolling out publicly this week.

A case study written by Trajectory, the Toronto-based design and strategy firm behind the new logo, explains that the symbol is part of a  larger, "comprehensive identity makeover for Toronto Public Library."

Designers and library staff carried out a multi-year "engagement process" involving public installations, workshops and a "robust online dialogue" to determine what patrons valued most in a library experience before deciding on anything.

Based on their findings, the library chose an identity platform that could provide high levels of both flexibility and visibility.

"Based on TPL's brand promise of Activate Something Great, the colon-based 'activator' acts as a connector for all the diverse opportunities and experiences the library creates for individuals, communities and the city as a whole," writes Trajectory of the logo.

"Created for today's dynamic media, the program has been built to anticipate emerging applications like augmented reality and virtual reality as well."

Okay, so, it's futuristic and accessible — this much is clear — but is the logo attractive?

The jury's out, but many in the city have strong feelings about the very idea of changing the library's branding at all.

"As almost always, old one is better," wrote someone in response to a tweet from an American design firm highlighting the new logo.

"It's bad!", "This is dumb", and "The kerning!" are among the responses to a different Twitter thread about the logo. 

Some people do like the logo, however, including the people who make decisions at Toronto Public Library (obviously).

"Our new identity recognizes our roots while looking to the future," writes the library of its new branding. "It's grounded in the written word. It's a promise, a connector, an advocate."

"It connects the breadth of TPL's offerings with ever-changing needs of our city’s people and communities," the library continues. "It's flexible and adaptable to showcase the incredible range of programs, services, ideas and information we have today... and what's to come."

Hey, fair enough.

Lead photo by

Trajectory


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