Today, Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood is a vibrant community of people, pets, parks, and trendy restaurants. But In 2013, the area was undergoing some big changes. Rundown buildings were being renovated and people across the city were beginning to see the neighbourhood as an up-and-coming cultural hotspot.
That’s when I got a call from the Marketing Chair of the Leslieville Business Improvement Area (BIA). The newly formed group needed an identity for the neighbourhood - something that both businesses and residents could proudly stand behind.
This project was unlike anything I had done before. Normally, branding exercises like this involve just a few key stakeholders. This allows for creative decisions to be made without groupthink. But we were building an identity for a diverse community so we adjusted our process and used the neighbourhood as a multi-faceted resource.
We met with local businesses to discuss goals and expectations. We spoke with residents to gather local history. And when it came time to show concepts and collect feedback, we put the designs online for a neighbourhood vote.
The winning design was a stylized park bench - the unsung hero of public gathering and friendship. What I love most about this logo (along with the hand-scripted font) is that it solved another big challenge for the BIA.
Without a high-profile landmark in the neighbourhood, the BIA needed something to continually remind people they were in Leslieville. Some neighbourhoods have gateways, some install a monument but Leslieville had bright, colourful benches. So when the logo was adopted, the BIA installed over 30 band new branded benches.
Today, everyone in Toronto can identify the Leslieville bench. You can find it on T-shirts, buttons and coffee cups. It’s become more than just a logo, it’s become a source of neighbourhood pride.