Toronto officially likes to think of itself as the city within a park, but perhaps it’s time to adopt a new slogan – “City of Neighbourhoods.”
That concept is at the heart of Matt Blackett’s design for a Globe and Mail project reimagining the City of Toronto’s logo, and it helped nab it more votes from readers than any of the eight designs featured in The Globe last Saturday.
Mr. Blackett did two versions of the logo, one vertical, the other horizontal.
Mr. Blackett said the idea of a city within a neighbourhood is what drove his design process in creating his logo, a “T” made up of 140 circles – the number of neighbourhoods officially recognized by the city – in various shades of Toronto blue that blend in to one another, as the city’s neighbourhoods do.
“The term ‘City of Neighbourhoods’ has been applied to Toronto before, so I liked the idea of making it official,” Mr. Blackett said. (For the record, he says he has “no real qualms with the current [logo].”)
It was a tight contest, with plenty of love going to Clarice Gomes’s logo inspired by the ‘Crystal Entrance’ of the Royal Ontario Museum, Matt Webb’s satirical take on the circus element of Toronto politics and all the other designers’ contributions.
Each of them helped spark a conversation about how Toronto is represented to itself and the world. The project started here has since migrated to the news website BlogTO and the blog of the TVO television program The Agenda.
Will any of the designs be officially adopted by the city? No, but Shannon Olliffe, supervisor of design services for the city, did call Mr. Blackett’s design “interesting” in an e-mail responding to the logo. “From a conceptual perspective I like the idea of representing the neighbourhoods and diversity of the City,” she wrote.
However, she added, “I don’t believe the concept, as is, could work as a corporate logo.” It would be difficult to reproduce on very small items, such as business cards, because the dots would bleed into one another, and the meaning gained from the gradient colouring would be nullified by any black and white versions. And adopting the tagline “City of Neighbourhoods,” Ms. Olliffe said, “goes outside of corporate identity and steps into branding.”
All of which are good points, but it was never the aim of the project to create a new, official logo for Toronto. It was to enlist the help of some of the city’s creative talent to rethink how we choose to see ourselves. That is a conversation Toronto has been having for a long time before this project, and with hope one that it will continue to have for a long time afterwards.