Guelph Public Library Brand Reveal

Guelph Public Library (Guelph, Ontario)1 recently unveiled a minor rebrand, which includes a new logo in ‘royal’ purple, and associated tagline: “Explore, Connect, Thrive”.

Below is a short video reveal of the new logo, shared on the Library’s twitter feed.

On the Library’s website, the logo’s representation is discussed:

“The research truly pointed the way and the key brand values identified by our community allowed us to produce a logo that represents an energetic, almost kinetic assembly: a coming together of ideas, people and opportunities.

Our new logo suggests a process of discovery, from traditional resources such as books (solid rectangular shapes) to all sorts of additional values – either literal resources or ideas (rectangles and circles in different shapes and sizes). It celebrates our differences while illustrating our strength when we are together as one. The “G” connects us to our City and the purple shade is vibrant and bold while respecting tradition of our ‘royal’ city.”

This is a trope we’re seeing more and more of with library logo redesigns – explicitly removing the notion of the book as logo anchor, and including abstractions for resources, ideas or community. The shapes (squares, rounded squares and circles) can mean whatever the library – and the viewer – wants.

The design work was done by Letter M Marketing in Guelph, and specifically by graphic designer Julie Brown-Hallman. The CEO of GPL, Steve Kraft tells the Guelph Mercury that the cost of the logo and associated materials was about $30,000 (CDN):

“Kraft said the cost of the rebranding the Guelph Public Library ‘was in the neighbourhood of $30,000.’ This total includes the logo, tagline, colour scheme, some launch swag and a detailed description of the design.

‘I think that’s quite economical for a product like this,’ he said, adding Seattle Public Library is also involved in rebranding their system ‘to the tune of, somewhere around $500,000 U.S.’

‘Compare it to that, $30,000 isn’t much. And we have never spent any money since 1883 to create a new brand or new logo, so I think we’re doing pretty well.'”

Library Swag

Library users holding branded bags. Source: Guelph Public Library’s twitter feed

As noted in the post about the Seattle Public Library rebrand, the cost of a library rebranding is eventually going to be disclosed, and libraries are often put in a position of defending the cost. (Interestingly, Kraft notes that the costs GPL paid pale in comparison to SPL — though this is hardly a fair comparison; the two library systems are drastically different in size).

Letter M Marketing was also recently involved in a branding project for Richmond Hill Library, a small system in the vicinity. They note in a blog post about the two projects, “It turns out two libraries in two different communities amount to two different, distinctive brands. Sure, there was significant overlap in the brand attributes of each but the most resounding core purposes were different, and the brands need to reflect that”.

This much needed2 logo update does not seem to be associated with a larger brand refresh, since the library’s website is a mish-mash of old and new branding and colours (this may change if GPL also got a brand manual from the company – it may take time to roll out). Additionally, it is not clear if this branding update is associated with the roll-out of new services or an updated service philosophy.

Institution: Guelph Public Library
Designer: Letter M Marketing


Aside: I always enjoy comparing the final product of a rebranding with the brand exercises that graphic design students end up doing for project work. Lauren Dewar tackled GPL, and offered a modern, icon-based design.


  1. Full disclosure: The author called Guelph home for about 6 years, and is quite fond of it 

  2. here’s the old one