A long time ago, I wrote that the Toronto Public Library needed to take a hard look at their visual identity. Specifically, I said, “TPL is using an old, uninspiring logo, and if they aren’t considering replacing it, they should”. Well, I guess folks at TPL thought so too, because they embarked on a major rebranding initiative, working with local design firm, Trajectory.

The visual identity is now loose in the wild, and I think we’re at the point where we can take the temperature of the response.

Source: Trajectory

TPL themselves

Here’s how TPL describes their new look and what it means:

“Our new identity recognizes our roots while looking to the future:

  • 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.

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.

Confident, curious, versatile and bold, our new symbol energizes a myriad of experiences and opportunities to help empower you, and your library, to activate something great.”

Source: Trajectory

Brand New

That stalwart, go-to for rebranding hot takes doesn’t seem to care much for it.

The new logo is better but only because the old one was so bad.
… the all lowercase approach with the forced ligature is neither interesting nor appealing. It’s as if Lineto Circular and Museo Slab had a puppy, which I now see is not a cross-breed you want. Then there is the colon… eh. It’s not a transcendental concept and there is no real flow to its use in the logo or even in the identity.

Armin Vit, Under Consideration

Oof. The straw poll of the readership indicates that it’s not much loved from them, either. 45% rate it ‘bad’, while another 40% give it a ‘fine’. The highest-rated comment reads:

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but they never mentioned library logos. I’d put this one back on the shelf.

“Ninth North”

Other Designers

Local designer Heather Corbin weighed in with this take:
“Overall, I still feel like this new logo is—like the old one, but for different reasons—a bit meh. It’s balanced, it works decently across many applications, it’s fairly simple, but it reads like it’s trying to fit in so that it doesn’t get called out for being a nerd, and I find that off-putting. It wants to everyone to like it, and just ends up coming across as sort of cute, and sort of dumb. It doesn’t tell a good story. And that doesn’t do the Toronto Public Library justice.”
read the rest of Heather’s assessment on corbincreative.ca

The Social Media masses

A smattering of commentary from the web:
“The all lowercase logo trend is so awful and unfitting for a library. ” -A6er (reddit)

“Nothing says reading, knowledge, and learning more than not capitalizing proper nouns.” – ChefUC (reddit)

“Aw, as not great as the old logo was, it was kind of iconic. As for the “swooshes”, I always assumed they represented the arches over the fountain at city hall?” -rebellion-lies (reddit)

“as it turns out, i do not like change!!” -vicky mochama (twitter)

“Why do you want to get rid of the part that says Toronto Public Library? …Stop trying to make TPL happen!” –Library Life Podcast

“I like the change. The logo reminds me of something you’d type in a browser (like http://) and I think it fits with what the library is looking to do. Very sleek, though I think the kerning on the t and p could be improved.” -Simmon Li (twitter)

“Looks very similar to the TFPL logo, a staffing agency in the UK that specialises in …library staff.” -escapapollag

My Take

I’m not surprised by the general negative feelings about the change. For many young Torontonians, they have grown up with the previous visual identity, and there’s a lot of Toronto nostalgia wrapped up in it. It is a very local logo (drawing on city hall architecture), and is almost like city wallpaper now. This new logo doesn’t and can’t carry that same weight. The new design has a thoroughly modern look and feels very current, but is not “wild” or cutting-edge (and that’s ok, honestly). It’s an identity that had to please everyone, and as a result, it’s fine. It looks better in application then it does stand-alone, and much like the new Google logo (or any other visual identity that people didn’t love immediately), Torontonians will stop thinking about it soon enough.

Source: Trajectory

Seen any other hot takes in the wild? Let me know.