”AN INSIDER/OUTSIDER PERSPECTIVE ON THE SOO’s NEW LOGO”:
First, I love the Soo. I’m a big supporter and very proud of my hometown. I relentlessly defend the city and deeply respect the people. My family still live there, who I visit several times per year. I have a big group of friends there too, many dating back to elementary school.But here’s the thing: we can’t live in 1973 forever. The old Sault Ste. Marie logo looked horribly dated. It may have been a decent logo in its day, but ultimately became very retro. And not in a good way.Target Audience.The target audience for the new logo isn’t your Uncle who still goes tothe Esquire club. Or your Aunt who loves knitting and is hoping the Soo will get a Giant Tiger one day.The target audience for the new Sault Ste. Marie logo shop at Aritzia and Anthropologie(not Northern Reflections). They might complain that Starbucks is pricey, but that’s where they get their coffee. They don’t really care that Sears is closed all over North America because they have Amazon Prime. They subscribe to Apple music, and the last song they played wasn’t Hotel California by the Eagles, it was probably something by The Weeknd or CardiB. They use Snapchat, Twitch, and Instagram, more than Facebook.
They take Uber and have 100+other apps on their phone. They subscribed to Netflix before the rest of us knew what Netflix was. Now, they do love the great outdoors, which is what makes the Soo a possibility. To move to the Soo, to actually live there –the city has to appear vibrant and contemporary. In my view, the new logo is vibrant and contemporary.Logo Imagery:Will people who see the new logo realize/understand that the big circle is an homage to First Nations, and represents the bridge and the fall colours? No.
Nobody will figure that out.But, did you know that the three stripes in the Adidas logo represent a mountain? Did you realize that the smile on the Amazon logo goes from “a” to “z”?Almost every logo has hidden meaning and symbolism. Look at the logos of the biggest and best companies, and then Google their meaning. They all employ abstract and vague metaphors. That’s a trademark of great design.Sometimes it’s more about the feelinga logo evokes. The old SSM logo was very literal, but design styles have changed immensely since then.The new logo looks stylish and feels urban and chic.Students versus Professionals:A re-branding exercise is high stakes. The city is going to use this logo for several years at the very least. Getting it right is paramount. If someone needed surgery would you get medical students to do it or an experienced Doctor? If the Soo needed a new bridge, engineering students, or a professional engineer? When something is important, the smart money goes with experience. There’s also a difference between amateurs and professionals. I have a decent camera, and I take photos, but I don’t consider myself a ‘Photographer’.I took guitar lessons, but I would never call myself a ‘Musician’.
Just because someone took course sand has Adobe on their computer, doesn’t make them a ‘Graphic Designer’. Only the most talented designers are able to make a full-time career of it.Value For Money.Did the city pay too much? I can’t comment. I can tell you that tier one professional design firms (including Agency59, where I work) routinely charge that much for re-branding exercises. Could a firm in the Soo have done this work? I don’t know. If there are professional Graphic Design firms in the Soo, who specialize in re-branding, and have relevant examples and current case studies, then yes. Should the city have hired a local freelancer? Not in my opinion. Not if they were serious about this.The World Has Changed.
It’s competitive out there. Every city is competing against every other city. Toronto is competing against Seattle and every major U.S. city for high tech companies. The Soo is competing against Timmins and Sudbury and Thunder Bay, to name a few. Does the Soo want to become another Elliott Lake Retirement Community? No way. We want young aspirational adults, work-focused, who want to build a life in the Soo, buy a house, have children, go to restaurants, spend money, enjoy the outdoors, and travel.To help do that, the Soo has to portray itself as modern. We need to resonate with today’s young adults/hipsters.Here’s a task for you.
Do a search on the bestselling albums in North America. Look at the top ten. How many of those artists are you familiar with? If you barely know any of them (like me), then it’s time for people like us to get out of the way. We’re not in the target audience anymore. The people behind this new logo are trying to re-brand our beautiful city, and too many dinosaurs are standing in the way. Final Thought.I know in my heart that the people who oppose this new logo are well intentioned. We all love the Soo, and we want our city to do the right thing. Debate can be helpful, as long as it stays positive. However, too much overt criticism can turn into a feeding-frenzy of negative ranting. The team behind this logo tried something bold and ambitious. Last I heard, taking risk is good. Better than playing it safe. Logos are subjective, and everyone’s opinion is equally valid.I hope it’s okay that I expressed my views.Let’s just make sure that whatever the final outcome is –we all stand behind it.
BIO: Al Scornaienchi. Al was born and raised in the Soo, attending St. Theresa and then Bawating, before leaving for University. In his early 20s, Al started working for J. Walter Thompson (Toronto), Canada’s largest advertising agency at the time. He worked on major televisio ncampaigns for Pepsi, Burger King and Nabob coffee. From there he went to Chiat/Day, famous as Apple’s ad agency. Al is currently the President/CEO of Agency59 (www.agency59.ca), a 47-person agency with clients such as Mercedes-Benz and TELUS. Over the decade she was involved with many logo/rebranding initiatives for companies such as Labatt, Interac, and Gay Lea Foods.
NOTE: Al has no affiliation and does not know anyone involved in the development of the SSM new logo.