New Vancouver Convention Centre Identity

Mark Busse – 6 Comments

Last night I visited the the brand new Vancouver Convention Centre for the first time. While there I took special notice of the convention centre’s new identity and its applications. At first I must admit the logo baffled me a bit as group of us stood looking up at the huge colourful logo on the wall. Someone asked me what the violent-looking slash of colours hanging beneath the photography-based wordmark meant. I found myself struggling to find the right words.

Designed by Vancouver-based Karacters DDB—in fact the entire brand and integrated marketing program has been developed and rolled out by DDB Canada, with their local partners Tribal DBB creating the website component—the logo is meant to represent “the inspiring play of light and water one experiences” when in the nearly all glass building surrounded by mountains and water, according to Karacter’s Creative Director James Bateman.

While I understand that the design team wanted to avoid any literal references to the city, mountains, or even the building itself—which I think could have been done quite subtly actually—I found my initial reaction kind of mixed, feeling that the graphic language was rather busy and not entirely feeling the connection to the inspiration of nature. Either way, it’s certainly a brave use of visual language to use dynamism in an attempt to capture and communicate the inspirational feeling of the location of the conference centre.

I’ve already heard various opinions being bandied about—some positive, saying they think it is a fresh expression of the Vancouver experience not seen previously. Others have been more critical, claiming it looks sloppy and already dated—my favourite being the comparison to a blood splatter pattern (which seems almost apros pos these days). But what I’d really like to know is what the public think—they are the target audience, not a bunch of design wonks.

Sometimes I think that some of us with designers’ eyes get distracted by issues like complexity of a graphic (ie. a logo made with photographic elements) and the difficulty of its application when flat vector shapes are commonplace, rather than enjoying the clever underlying layers of meaning. I will say that struggling for words as I did trying to explain the identity might be OK. Doesn’t that happen sometimes when we’re awe-struck by nature’s beauty, the very thing that inspired the logo in the first place? I’m just saying.

So? What do you think of the new Vancouver Convention Centre identity? We’d love to receive your thoughts as comments below.

PS – Readers of this blog seldom agree on all things design, but I think we can all agree that this was a huge project for the team at Karacters and we offer our congratulations on its launch and offer our best wishes of luck that it becomes an enormous success for them!


6 Responses to “New Vancouver Convention Centre Identity”

  1. Ron Kliewer

    Does the new identity really mean anything? Isn’t the convention centre supposed to be a place for people to meet and share ideas? The building itself is a profound piece of architecture that was a challenge for both architects and engineers alike, and a triumph of green development. The identity is very ho-hum
    and really doesn’t say much.To me I just see a rainstorm and Vancouver is more than just that.

  2. Aaron Heppell MGDC

    I’m mixed…. I think the Vancouver Convention centre logo is refreshing and full of energy. Refreshing like a face full of cold water. A little dark and almost disturbing, like the dead of winter, first conceptualized I would assume on one of our 1000 bleak and rainy days in late November… but it makes me want to look closer. It has an edge and I’m happy that it doesn’t look like another Olympic logo… or standard city issue.. All in all, I’m a fan!

  3. Jean-Sébastien Dussault

    I, er, what? Really?

    It would be great if it was for an Ice Hotel, but convention center? That thing is more likely to repel any international conferences.

    Icy cold weather does not sell on the business travel side, especially if the convention centre, though beautiful, looks like a series of tents…

  4. Davin Greenwell

    I like how new it feels but I am conflicted about the, for lack of a better word, “activity” underneath the C and the O. For an added element outside of strong type, it’s not a very strong shape, which dilutes the experience for me. All that said, it is nice to see something a bit outside of the box if you know what I mean.

  5. Clayton Misura

    Why not reference the building? It’s a 900 million dollar project, and like you mentioned, it could have been done subtly.

  6. Marie-Aline Oliver

    My first impression is that it looks like my car windshield before I have to scrape it.

    After reading that the logo is “meant to represent ‘the inspiring play of light and water one experiences’ “, I am still only reminded of frozen water–i.e. ice. Despite the rationale, I think this kind of typography would better suit a movie about the Titanic, or even the doomed mission by the Antarctic explorer Shackleton.

    These are all negative connotations that organizers wouldn’t want to associate with a convention centre. Which is unfortunate, since it seems to be very nice facility.


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