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Applied Arts magazine cover featuring a bottle with octopus tentacles wrapped around it

Looking back on a year of uninvited rebrands

An opinion column I wrote has just been published in the May/June issue of Applied Arts Magazine. I felt compelled to write after reading Fast Company’s ridiculous year-end article on the best branding of 2012 that claimed that 2012 “was the year of the unofficial, uninvited, branding campaign.”

In the column I make the case that branding projects undertaken without permission or client involvement may end up looking pretty but that they serve no real strategic or business value.  As a design profession, we talk all the time about “strategic process” and work very hard to taken seriously by businesses. But then at the same time, as creative professionals, we get all excited and lavish attention on these made-up projects. We need to make up our minds what is really important to us.

Seeing Double

While riding the streetcar recently, I noticed two ads placed side-by-side that looked as though they were from the same organization. Education en langue francaise en Ontario and Le Centre francophone de Toronto both had prominently used their logos – stylized human figures holding their arms – as a focal point of their ads. Upon closer inspection and a quick internet search, I found out that the former group was set up by the Ontario government to provide information and encourage enrollment in French language schools in the province, the latter is a not-for-profit organization that assist francophone’s who come to live in Toronto. Two different organizations, two different mandates, two different target audiences… two very similar brand identities.