RGD Responds to Focus Group Testing for Canada’s 150th Anniversary Design Mark
Centennial Logo

As reported on cbc.ca yesterday, in advance of Canada’s 2017 birthday, the federal government has partnered with research firm TNS Canadian Facts Inc. on a $40,000 focus group testing initiative that asked Canadians to evaluate five design concepts for a commemorative logo. See the complete article here.


As an advocate for professional graphic designers and the Canadian creative industry as a whole, RGD is taking immediate steps to inform designers and spearhead a strong, unified response from the design community to recommend a process involving the professional graphic design community.


RGD President Lionel Gadoury began by posting the following article comment to the CBC website:


O’ Canada, you deserve a better 150th design mark

In 1966 I was 5 years old when I first saw the spectacularly modern maple leaf designed for Canada's centennial. Comprised of 11 equilateral triangles representing the 10 Canadian provinces and the territories, it was smart, fresh and innovative and a spectacular example of what our burgeoning graphic design community in Canada was capable of. Much later I learned that this seminal piece of work was by a young graduate from the Ontario College of Art, Stuart Ash RGD Emeritus, founder of Gottschalk + Ash. To this day it remains a personal recollection of a mark that inspired me to pursue my own career as a professional graphic designer.


Fast forward these 47 years and consider how much has changed as our current government seeks a mark to celebrate and commemorate our nation’s 150th year. Rather than engaging Canada’s highly talented graphic design professionals, a decision was made to hire a firm that runs focus groups, presenting the public with a problematic selection of designs and putting them to a vote. Unfortunately, focus groups can describe their general likes and dislikes in terms of what they are being shown, but at best this can only achieve a better sameness. Big wins and beloved designs come from those who invest professional knowledge, talent and passion.


To put it simply, if as Canadians we want to achieve the best, we need to set the mark high and work with professionals capable of delivering to the highest standard. Properly managed, an effective mark is the result of close collaboration between designer and client. Success may be achieved by a designer who is employed in-house, in an agency, or as a sole practitioner, but not by cutting corners.


I encourage all who value graphic design as a profession to make your voices heard by contacting your Members of Parliament. Let them know that design is always more about why, how and what process was followed to find an appropriate design solution. Canada’s professional design associations represent a diverse talent base and would welcome the opportunity to offer expertise and guidance for achieving a successful outcome.


Lionel Gadoury RGD, President, Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD)


RGD's Executive Director is in touch with our federal lobbyist in Ottawa about appropriate efforts to approach government regarding this issue. 


To members of RGD and the design community as a whole as well as all concerned Canadians, we ask that you voice your disapproval and overall dismay at the uninformed and ineffective process that the federal government has chosen to employ in establishing a commemorative design mark for our country.


We have drafted a template letter that we strongly urge all designers to send to their respective Members of Parliament. Click here to download the letter template. Feel free to modify the drafted letter as you see fit. Your Member of Parliament, and their email address, can be identified by visiting this webpage and inputting your postal code.


RGD has also been in touch with the Presidents of GDC and SDGQ to educate this government and the general public on the importance of design and an effective design process.   


This is an unfortunate but increasingly common example of government attempting to be inclusive and responsible in how it spends tax dollars but it is also an opportunity for all of us to educate our government, and the public at large, on the profession of graphic design and the value it can bring to our national identity and how we communicate that within our borders and beyond.


RGD will be issuing a press release shortly in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible and encourage designers everywhere to take action – stay tuned.


To get in touch with the Association regarding this news story and other issues impacting our community, contact Executive Director Hilary Ashworth, 1.888.274.3668 x23, .