TPL’s new logo: is it really controversial?

TPL’s new logo: is it really controversial?

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a new logo and some folks are a bit peeved.

Let’s start with the fun stuff – TPL’s logo.

Image of Toronto Public Library's new logo - lower case TPL seperated by a colon and the words toronto public library

Activate Something Great – TPL’s new logo and slogan

If you pay attention to Toronto’s Twitterati, the new logo is a bit controversial. Or so goes the claim. The bulk of the controversy  seemed to stem from a single BlogTo article1. There really isn’t anything controversial about the logo. To some it’s a bit bland or they preferred the more artistic eye appeal of the previous one. That’s fair criticism but hardly controversial.

Ok, the slogan is trite, like something that came from caffeine deprived people trapped in an endless meeting, desperate to escape. But I understand the point. The TPL (Toronto Public Library) is trying to move the library into a 21st century feel, beyond the idea it’s just books. The TPL is a community hub and here are a  few fast facts2:

• 972,213 million library members and 17.5 million visits
• 100 branches across the GTA
One of the world’s busiest libraries
• Over 7 million digital loans to date and climbing rapidly
• When I looked up the stats yesterday, there were over 6,300 active digital loans and 2 million active holds
• Extensive computer training/usage available
• digital hubs allowing for 3d printing
• recording studios
• new comer services
• archives both digital and inhouse
You can find out more here

So, yes, it was time to update the slogan and logo to meet a more millennial feel.  Here’s the old one:

Toronto Public Library's logo from 1998 to 2019

Toronto Public Library’s logo from 1998 to 2019

There’s nothing wrong it, but the new logo has a modern clean, simple font, easy to read, no frills appeal. It also looks good in all sizes because of the uncluttered design. I’m a big fan of uncluttered. The new tpl design looks good on a small smart phone screen and blown up for building signage.

Here’s the logo from 1978 for comparison. It’s interesting to see how the art of logo design changes over the years. This would make a good case study of how logo preferences morph.  Tastes change over time, including typography and logo styling. And colour. Thankfully. That brown was a dreadful choice. Just saying.

tpl logo 1978 sm

TPL is 209 years old. Beginning in 1810 as a private subscription library, becoming a free public library in 1883, it’s had several makeovers.1

According to the design team, Trajectory, they wanted a “new identity” that “recognizes our roots while looking to the future”. No issues with that logic. However, the rest of what they wrote is a finely tuned bit of bafflegab:

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
It’s flexible and adaptable to showcase the incredible range of programs, services, ideas and information we have today… and what’s to come.3

It’s a nice logo. Let’s leave it at that.

I do agree with their assessment of the new font:

The typography is accessible and welcoming, and our colours have been refreshed with a welcoming and cheerful new spin on “Toronto blue,” along with a complementary palette of supporting colours that reflect the energy and vibrancy of our city, our people, and our library.3

Now the bad. Or maybe just plain bizarre – a little abuse

Trajectory, the company behind the redesign, issued a video and press release detailing the logic behind the new design. Here’s a bit from it:

 Our multi-pronged, immersive, and experiential design process was structured to be future-focused and anticipate emerging customer service opportunities.3

Fucking hell, it’s like an episode of Dilbert. Why didn’t they simply say “we field tested the design extensively and are excited about the response”. Or better still “we think we have a kick ass design Library users are going to love”.

The logo is a good fit. Not in the least controversial. Tastes will vary but that’s one of the great problems with any design – you can’t please everyone.  The slogan is a bit of a miss, and a tad trite, but I can ignore it.   So, what do you think of the redesign?

Want more information?

1 – Read the BlogTO article here Toronto Public Library’s new logo proves controversial
2 – Some facts about the TPL
3 – A little TPL history
4 –  Trajectory Co

Bring on the adult fidget spinners

Bring on the adult fidget spinners

I’m incapable of sitting around doing nothing so my hands find things to turn into adult fidget spinners. I’m designed to fidget. I have no science to back my theory of Genetic Fidgitery but just ride with me on it.

I have notebooks and bits of paper filled with random doodles and thoughts – most of which collect dust until I toss them in a spasm of tidiness.  I’m one of those people who tears apart a paper cup to create little dioramas when I’m out having coffee with friends. I’ve destroyed hundreds of paper clips in meetings.  Worse still, I’ll carefully tear the label off beer bottles and fold them into little creatures. I’m paying attention to the conversations around me, It’s just my hands start fidgeting. A friend recently threatened to buy me a child’s toybox so I’d have things to play with.

Sometimes I see something, a shape usually, that triggers an idea that plunges me down a rabbit hole of silly ideas. Recently, while having a mediocre coffee in a place that will remain unnamed – forgive me espresso gods – I kept staring at the clip art coffee bean  on the back of the bag. With the right flourishes, it would make a great badge for the magazine and ended up with Killer Bean:

Well, not a fidget spinner, but a scan of a hand drawn logo of a coffee bean with fangs.

This would make a great fidget spinner for me

If that isn’t the name of an espresso bar, then it damn well should be.