Bruce Mau Design got together with Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson to change the way Americans think about Canada.
Why Americans, you ask? Well, as is documented, Canada has long grappled with its identity. Or to be more blunt, identity crisis, at least in its perception with its louder, more populous neighbors down south.
So the answer to this problem, apparently, was to edumacate Americans, and let them know that Canada is more than maple syrup, hockey and Rush. Canada is also Arcade Fire. And Justin Bieber. And the Wonder Bra.
This is the best you could come up with? You replace pop culture references with different ones? And give us a half-baked microsite designed to showcase the new branding and little else, save this mildly condescending 'rationale.'
In our redesign, we begin with an assertion that Americans simply don't
understand Canada. Our view is that Canada doesn't need a redesign; rather,
Americans need to be educated.
To that end, our new Canadian brand highlights the country's potential,
and addresses the dynamic exchange of ideas, creativity,
natural resources and people.
To express the country's openness, flexibility and diverse points of view,
we've created a visual language that leverages the two red bars on either
side of the Canadian flag. These red bars act as a container for a rich
array of viewpoints, imagery and ultimately, understanding.
Oh but wait, they did something else. They removed the Maple Leaf from the flag for Canada's new identity. Mau's concept not only swaps out pop culture references, but removes one endearing piece of Canada in most American minds from its identity for a "modern take." Yes, very modern, indeed, as it's the "we're cool, too, no honest," concept. Never seen that in Canadian advertising before, right? Oh wait...
Forgive me for being uppity about this. But the truth is Kidsleepy lived in Montreal for two years. There, he did not gave two shits about Arcade Fire or Bieber. Instead, he enjoyed The Dears , Malajube en Français and a host of better musicians. He also read and was deeply moved by Who Has Seen The Wind , and many other books that reflected a smart, sophisticated culture that had nothing to do with Pamela Anderson. Also there's the whole Just for Laughs Festival not even mentioning just traveling around the country that rocks.
Yes, I am sure more Americans would care about this kind of culture if only they knew about it. But they won't learn it from this "redesign," because it is severely lacking in concept.
Put another way: If I need to read the accompanying text in the PDF to "get it," than it doesn't work.
(Also, please don't get me started on the food. I would join a cult if it meant I could get my hands on some Quebecois cheese right now.)
Removing the maple leaf to make a country more palatable to another country is not only shortsighted, it also comes across like you're ashamed of what makes you, you. And P.S., most Americans think higher of you than you realize. Forget Blame Canada." We like you. We really, really like you. Roughly a million of us visit you every year. The same number of Americans like Kidsleepy live there, too.
Honestly, Mau and company would have been better to shine the spotlight on what Canada is doing now. In terms of fashion, music, awesome airlines , Cool hotels. great businesses. Of all kinds. Not to mention ad agencies, festivals and more. And don't forget Cirque and the whole "we're bi-lingual" thing, too.
Instead, we replace something well-known and well-liked by Americans (And most Canadians alike) with a lame re-brand and a proposed campaign that makes Canada sound desperate to sound cool.
Nothing makes this American feel more Canadian than wanting to defend Canada from this crapola.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat some poutine, drink some Fin Du Monde and wave both my Maple leaf and Quebec flags high. Because Canada's damn well more than one flag.
And then I'll watch a marathon of George Strombolopolous, and You cant Do That On Television and Degrassi Junior High because that's a hundred times more Canadian than two red bars with no leaf, I'll tell you that much.