$239,000 + GST is what it cost Vancouver to develop green logo

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


This logo cost Vancouver taxpayers a bundle at a time they are cutting back services

For those couple of dozen folks who plan to address council tonight regarding budget cuts, we strongly suggest that you pick up a copy of today's 24 Hours newspaper. Ace reporter Bob Mackin reveals that Vancouver spent nearly a quarter of a million tax dollars to develop a new logo for their "green city" initiative. The 24 Hours freedom of information request reveals that the generous contract was awarded to Haymaker Creative who worked with Linda Oglov, the former head of marketing for Vancouver's Olympic Bid Corporation, to develop the logo and design guidelines.

Just prior to his jetting off to Athens, Greece, to help bring back the Olympic flame, Robertson delivered another one of his famously "flat" speeches at the Vancouver Board of Trade. In the address he unveiled his new "Vancouver Green Capital" logo developed through the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC). It took almost one year to draft his so-called green action plan, which has all but fallen off the media radar screen after a shaky start.

Now we are learning that while the City Manager was planning cuts to street tree planting programs, the Stanley Park petting zoo and the Bloedel conservatory, the VEDC – who receive their budget from city council – was spending a fortune developing a new logo. According to 24 Hours, it comes complete with a "how to" manual that could have used a proof read.

In the past, Vancouver city staff have been more than capable of designing new graphical identity in-house at virtually no additional cost to city taxpayers. The best example is the attractive City of Vancouver logo that currently adorns all the "Welcome to Vancouver" signs as you enter the city. It's my understanding that this logo was developed by the professional graphic designers that work for the city and simply cost a few hours of their time. Why it was necessary to spend $240K to develop a new logo that could have been designed in-house is hard to understand given the current fiscal reality.

According to 24Hrs:

A summary said the process to develop the Vancouver Green Capital slogan and logo cost $239,000 plus GST.

The FOI also reveals the creative thinking behind the new green brand:

The draft brandbook describes the weaving-V logo as "Green is connected to blue, land to sky and water, the city to its people and ideas to capital. The graphic V is also reminiscent of the ribbons of an Olympic medal, a nod to the Games that started Vancouver's search for a new business story.

Okay, I'm glad they cleared that up. What's curious about this rather expensive manual is that no one saw fit to proofread it before going to press:

Where most Olympic cities sweep problems under the rug, we will not try to hide and not trying [sic] to exploit - we will try to be honest. Our most visible problems - drugs and homelessness - are Vancouver's problem, but they're also the world's problem.

When former Mayor Sam Sullivan asked me to develop the logo for the award-winning EcoDensity initiative, it didn't cost anywhere near a quarter of a million dollars. After a couple of other names fell through, I came up with the term EcoDensity and we then hired a contractor to design the logo. The whole process, as I recall, cost well south of $10,000. There were no design guidelines, nor binders of material describing how the blue in the logo represents English Bay - nada.

Even the controversial logo produced for the City of Kelowna last summer was comparatively cheap at $35,000. How Vancouver managed to spend seven times that amount for essentially the same product is a mystery, but VEDC minutes show that Robertson and council rep Geoff Meggs were closely involved in the initiative.

We also can't help but notice that the logo colours are practically identical to those of Vision Vancouver.

Kudos to Mackin and the crack team at 24 Hours for uncovering this "green" expense as citizens are being told by Robertson that the city has no money to pay for the street tree planting program. I suspect more than a few citizens heading up to 12th & Cambie today may have a copy of 24 Hours clutched under their arm as they prepare to battle City Hall.


This blows. I can't believe we are losing the petting zoo and all we got was this crummy logo.

As someone who used to work in PR, I can say that these companies charge exorbitant fees by the minute for their services. And when it comes to logos, they get a bunch of their staff in a room to brainstorm your logo and you pay for the time of each and every person there. They love government clients because they rarely ask questions about the costs.

Go with a small independent company if you are getting a logo made and you won't get ripped off.

I think it would also have helped if they had spelt the actual tagline correctly, i.e. Green Capitol, not Green Capital.

Vancouver Green Capital is a non-statement, and makes no sense. Vancouver has green capital, certainly, but it can't be 'green capital'. It possesses green capital, and can foster green capital, but can't by definition be green capital.

What it could be is Green Capitol, which would brand Vancouver as the capitol of Green, which makes sense.

Personally, though, I would much rather see us celebrate Vancouver as a Creative Capitol, which actually captures both what we are and hope to be. It would also harness the best of our human capital, and encompasses the creative thinking needed to transform Vancouver into an actual Green Capitol.

ironic that we cut thousands of dollars from the sanitation budget to pick up street litter so we can create a logo that flaunts how green we are. Does that strike anyone else as hypocritical?

Fabulous plan. Brand the city as a green capital and then close the Conservatory and cut the street tree planting program.

That brand is going to seem pretty hollow when there's no green left in Vancouver!

Love the sucking (or is that blowing?) for hizzoner via the Georgia Straight this week.

The only green the bandits at City Hall care about is the stuff the developers are handing over to their campaigns, by the wheelbarrel full.

Yes, that over-built, ammenitiesless North-East section of False Creek, that'll be a humdinger of a green washing job.

Hmmm, a Green Capital/Capitol needs a Greener sounding Mayor...

I hereby knight thee: Mayor Chance, the Gardener.

(Listen to his next Chamber of Commerce speech or media scrum---lord, help us all, a painful experience to endure---and don't tell me the guy isn't wayyyyyyyy out of his depth).

The Mayor's blogosphere spin doctors are advising us that 24 Hours got the story all wrong! For $239K, taxpayers apparently also got a promotional video as well. Glad we got that all cleared up.

As for the Mayor's speaking abilities...yes, a lot of business types do equate it to nails on a chalkboard. Clearly there are some things his political staff have no control over. Speech delivery is one of them.

Good catch! Just shows the stupidity of the design firm - who usually do great work.

As noted in comments above, there are likely other components of the package besides a logo for $239K. (Videos etc?) It would be nice to see the whole list.
At least the work went to a Vancouver firm. Unlike Calgary's new logo project, which has been awarded to US firm Gensler, out of San Fransisco.

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