For the first time in more than 110 years, a corporate brand overhaul and new logo celebrating the city’s Indigenous roots and rainbow symbolism were approved by Prince Rupert City Council on Feb. 28.
“We wanted something that represents the grit and optimism that we know it sometimes takes to live in the rainiest city in Canada. A rainbow is a natural phenomenon that can mean so much – diversity, wealth, inclusion, and most obviously what comes after the storm – and it has always been Rupert’s optimistic spin on the rain,” Lee Brain, city mayor said.
The $105,000 endeavour enlisted design firm Will Creative, in partnership with Ts’msyen artist and carver Russell Mather, to blend indigenous art, contemporary design, bright colours and a nod to the familiar moniker – the City of Rainbows, Communications Manager Veronika Stewart stated.
Stewart said the rebrand project started with the first discussions during the 2030 vision talks.
“A lot of what was recommended was physical upgrades. But, there was also the recommendation for us to have a bit more of a coherent aesthetic moving forward because that’s not something that we have with the current corporate crest. So, now we can really see that there are coherent visual elements that we can use in our day-to-day work,” she said.
The sharp imagery uses a bold colour palette of red, black, teal and yellow, traditional colours for the North Coast region.
“The imagery encompasses some of the basic formline in Ts’msyen art. There are four main crests of the Ts’msyen people, and those are represented in the different segments of the rainbow,” Mather said. “This project has been very special. It’s unique and I’m going to hold it in my heart forever.”
“We knew it was important to recognize the Coast Ts’msyen territory that we are lucky to call home, and we are incredibly grateful to Russell for providing his designs and guiding our design team through the cultural side of things,” Brain said.
Stewart said the development of the new city logo and brand was approved as part of the 2020 capital budget process with the brand package a result of significant research. Consultation with focus groups, key community internal and external stakeholders, non-profits and communications professionals were involved in the initial consultation of the project.
“The final cost of the project was higher than the initial $75,000 in funding approved due to the scope of changes to bring in an indigenous artist, and also project stop/starts due to the pandemic,” Stewart said.
It was 1910 when the city last adopted an emblem reflecting the original values and vision of the city. The historic crest, with motto ‘By rail and ship, with net and pick we win our wealth’, was “well past its best before date,” Councillor Blair Mirau said at the regular meeting.
Referencing a comment by Mather that “art is identity,” Mirau said the city of rainbows had been around as a concept since 1982.
“But, we’re really making a brand new identity out of it. And the potent symbolism of that is identity. And that’s how we want, I think, to reinforce the metaphor of inclusion and multicultural diversity.”
“This is such a much more accurate reflection of our community than that old corporate seal from the turn of the century,” Mirau said.
Wanting to head off what he thinks may be a “couple of the main criticisms,” Mirau referenced the constant precipitation and Prince Rupert being one of the rainiest cities in the world. He said some people would question why the focus would be on drawing attention to the rain.
“I have to say back we are the rainiest and cloudy city in Canada. How are we ever going to hide that from someone from the outside? We need to lean into that brand…We have to focus on what comes after the rain, which is the rainbow,” Mirau said.
“It is the calm after the storm. It’s the symbol of resilience. It’s the symbol of inclusivity and multicultural diversity. It’s such a great symbol for being at the end of the line. You know, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or at the end of Highway 16, or the end of the rail.”
“So the other point I would make is… what value do we place as a community on being inclusive? Is there a dollar value that we can put on that figure? And when we look at that coat of arms, it’s a reflection of a very specific time, a very specific place, a very specific colonial and cultural connotation. It’s so far past its best before date, and it’s well past time that we move beyond that.”
“This [new logo] is a timeless brand that I think can last beyond whatever happens to Prince Rupert. It really is more about the people here than it is about the economy and all the things that are happening here,” Brain said.
Councillor Nick Adey told of how his thinking surrounding the business practice of branding evolved during the various sessions and presentations.
“I can see how strong it is in terms of how versatile its applications are — beyond just a logo on a letterhead. It’s modern in its conceptual design. I think it makes me feel like we’re looking forward rather than looking back. And I think that’s where we need to be. We need to be looking forward,” Adey said.