What’s in a Logo

What’s in a Logo
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The Letters Patent signed by members of the College of Arms, including the King of Arms at the time Sir Anthony Wagner granting Centennial College the use of an official seal.

By Aldis Brennan Feature Editor

It took only about six months to decide on a design for the Centennial College coat of arms, but it was over seven years before it was finally approved. The problem was the Royal College of Arms.

This venerable institution was created in 1484 by Richard III, King of England and is responsible for the creation of any official heraldry.

So of course – almost 500 years later – the Centennial coat of arms had to be sent to England for approval.

The first design, featuring the heraldry of both Scarborough and East York, was summarily rejected.

After a few more false starts, both parties agreed on a shield with the Centennial College symbol prominently placed in the middle.

But, the College of Arms does not give out heraldry lightly. Before they granted their approval they conducted an investigation of the Chairman of the Board of Governors’ credentials. By the time they were satisfied, the Chairman had moved on and the vetting process had to begin again with the new Chairman.

Five years after the initial proposal, the College of Arms notified Centennial that they had sent their approval for the coat of arms.

However, a mixup with Canadian Customs resulted in the package being returned to England and because it is apparently quite insulting to return a letter from Her Majesty, Centennial was forced to write an apology.

After one more delay thanks to a mail strike in Canada, the Letters Patent authorizing the official coat of arms of Centennial College was finally received at the beginning of May, 1974.

Left: 1967 This ‘shield’ logo appeared on college publications from 1967 to about 1972, and incorporated the stylized maple leaf from Canada’s centennial year celebrations in 1967. After that, the college dropped the logo in an austerity move that paralleled the Ontario government’s decision to stop using a logo on its own materials and advertising. Centennial calendars from 1973 on just showed “Centennial College” in a simple sans serif typeface and no logo of any kind.

Right: 1996 The arc logo was updated in 1996 to reflect the new austerity of the times, when full-colour stationery was seen as wasteful. The single, new colour was sage green, selected by committee. The evolutionary logo, penned by Ricker Sequens Design Group, set the old logo in a square frame that grounded the design on the printed page. For the first time, the words “Centennial College” appeared under the logo in a set font. The center of the logo was changed to a sphere, a 3D design.

Left: 1970 Throughout the 1970s, committees were struck on campus to come up with a new corporate identity for the college, but there was no consensus on a favourite design. Finally, Toronto graphic designer Ralph Tibbles was hired in 1979 to come up with a clean sheet design for Centennial. He created the tri-colour crescent logo that symbolized Centennial as an assembly of people and ideas, as well as radiating knowledge. Bursting with colour, it was also symbolic of the optimistic decade that was the 1970s.

Right: 2004 Soon after Ann Buller was selected as Centennial’s new President in 2004, the college began work on a new corporate identity using a clean-sheet approach. The winning design by corporate identity agency Spencer Francey Peters (SFP) placed the words Centennial College vertically and opposite each other in a unique and creative way. “It’s a distinctive presentation: it makes you think. It’s simple, vibrant and breaks through a lot of the clutter that’s out there,” Buller said when the logo was unveiled in April, 2005. SFP noted that the new logo communicated a forward-thinking institution, one that is culturally sensitive, urban and urbane. Along with the two shades of green in the basic logo, the firm released a palette of secondary colours for use in various applications. The new logo must always be displayed in the vertical position.


Centennial College logo information courtesy of Mark Toljagic

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