Image displays the before and after of the Halifax Public Library logo

“Paper and Pixels”

That’s the inspiration behind Halifax Public Libraries’ rebrand, as described on their brand launch webpage. In the accompanying video, below, the brand identity is representing many ideas:

  • “representing the people it serves: vibrant and diverse.  A safe space for learning, exploration, and connection”
  • “weaves together all fourteen unique branches”
  • “the colours of our new logo are drawn from the many cultures of our community, and the beauty of our natural surroundings”
  • “…the logo is infinitely adapting”

“Libraries are such vibrant places in our community, we really wanted a visual identity that reflected that.”
Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian, Halifax Public Library ((Grudic, J., 2016. Global News))


The previous wordmark was certainly showing its age, with the italicized ‘i’ presumably meant to evoke thoughts of iPods and the Internet. The wave design, while an important reminder of Halifax’s seaside location, is too generic to be memorable. The new logo is an entirely modern take, and certainly in-step with colourful designs seen elsewhere in Canada (Kitchener Public Library or Edmonton Public Library). The abstract nature of the squares/pixels and rectangles/paper is also quite current, with abstraction being a primary feature of the brands of Anythink Library, Calgary Public Library, and the logo-that-might-have-been at Seattle Public Library. (One potential challenge with an entirely abstract logo is that the viewer might be left wondering if there is supposed to be inherent meaning from the overall shape: do the dots represent Halifax? The branch locations?). The colourful logo is in contrast to very simple and plain grey text for the library’s name.

many little Ls are broken up to reform into the new logo

Breakhouse, who designed the visual identity, describe the process of logo creation on their Behance page (click image to view): “The logo combines fourteen monolithic els, representing each of the branches, woven together as a family.”

The colours of the logo are meant to be extensible, modifiable to suit the needs of particular events or campaigns. An example of this is the modification made for the promotional material for African Heritage Month, below.

a promotional image for African Heritage Month at Halifax Public Libraries. It uses an alternative colour scheme.

The venerable brand review website Brand New opined on the new logo and concluded:

“It’s a slightly noisy but also relatively attractive and playful system. In application, the icon can be blown up or used small — sometimes it feels antiquated, like a mid 1990s brochure. Overall, I can’t imagine the old applications being any better, and both logo and identity bring some dignity to an institution that deserves it.”

Strategic Plan

The visual identity rollout was tied to a new strategic plan for 2017-2021, available on the Halifax Public Libraries’ website, and inline, below.


Public reaction to the new identity on social media has been very positive. Below, some reactions and artistic interpretations of the new “pixel and paper” logo.

You can view other implementations of the new visual identity on Breakhouse’s Behance gallery.

Institution: Halifax Public Libraries
Designer: Breakhouse