Thursday, July 07, 2005


Much has been said about the new brand, Toronto Unlimited, in just a few days since its launch on June 23rd. The papers, blogs, reporters, Torontonians, all have voiced and continue to express their ideas and opinions… good and bad, positive and negative. Clients and partners as well are offering their mostly enthusiastic perspectives.

At first glance Toronto Unlimited seems to be in great company: Gustave Eiffel’s iconic Parisian structure, Minoru Yamasaki’s beloved Twin Towers, Milton Glaser’s I Love New York brand, even Las Vegas’ What happens here stays here. Today, these ‘projects’ are widely recognized as having raised profiles, if not put cities on maps, or re-invented destinations. Yet, in their early days, they all raised eyebrows at best and opposition at worst. But above all, they stirred passion. And passion is a welcome feeling when it comes to Toronto, a destination grappling to find a way to release its’ intensely passionate spirit amidst an almost apologetic way of expressing it.

This, incidentally, is what we heard from the thousands of Torontonians that took the time to tell us their thoughts on this great city. In the research phase of this branding project, we got great input, insights, and observations from dozens of government and private sector stakeholders who gave us important strategic input. But it was the public engagement campaign, executed in late 2004, that provided us with the depth and richness of content that inspired the brand development.

The passion in the tone, the enthusiasm in the delivery, the ambition in the intentions, the modesty in their character, and the humanity in their values, all contributed to the development of a place that is full of possibilities, full of culture, full of life, full of imagination… a city of unlimited potential. Some other products and services can tag the “unlimited” label to their names. But I would challenge any other city to deliver on it.

Toronto is a wonderful place, but one of the most underestimated and misunderstood metropolises on the globe. We suspected this going into the project, and focus groups around the world proved us right. This is largely due to the modesty in Torontonians, who are not out to prove themselves to the world. Yet, to some extent, this modesty has not helped the city in promoting itself to travelers, investors, and businesses.

We are very proud of the Toronto Unlimited brand, as we feel it puts a strong stake in the ground. We feel it is unique, it is solid, it is attractive, and it is credible to this great place. But most importantly, it is authentic, it represents what the destination is about, it is informational and provocative to visitors, and inspirational for Torontonians to live up to.

We’ve read the criticism… “Toronto limited,” “limited imagination,” “too corporate,” etc. In their early days, similar things could have been said of I Love New York, Just do it, or There is no substitute, some of the most iconic and imitated signature lines in history. We’ve read praise too… “Tourism Toronto gets its act in order,” “Look out world,” “Big names are lined up to sell big city,” and heard the ovations from our clients. Ultimately, the measurement of success depends on the brand living up to its promise.

We believe Unlimited shows the same potential for Toronto. This is a city with morphing museums, a pioneer in gay rights, provocative architecture, a city that cools itself with a lake, a city that leverages innovative theater to develop biotechnology, a city with hundreds of cultures... It is a city of unlimited potential.

How else can you describe a city that over the course of six weeks can host a million gay and lesbian revelers, inspire 50,000 members of Alcoholics Anonymous visitors from across the world, entertain 150,000 racing fans and get a million more to celebrate Caribana? Our city, Toronto really is Unlimited.

We know Torontonians want to live up to the message they inspired us with. To continue to make this destination an exemplary metropolis. To continue to show the world, in their own modest way, all that a city can be. A city unlimited.

Please see the Toronto Unlimited brand video at:


Blogger x said...

Your team is delusional. You really think Toronto Unlimited ranks with I Love NY? I understand your defensiveness, but you need to develop some critical self-perspective.

My bet: your Toronto Unlimited brand will not last. The design is weak, the message is shallow, you have no credible narrative upon which to build a brand.

Toronto should ignore your weak effort and go about its business becoming the best it can be whereupon a TRUE brand character will emerge. When that becomes clear, resume the branding effort.

No need to argue. The test is time, and time will tell ;-)


9:44 AM  
Blogger logodesigner said...

You should check out what people *really* think at (no spelling error!)

Besides the bad typography and the icon's obvious similarity to the Bahamas identity (check out ) the worst thing is that the logo can't be reproduced in a single color version like b/w.

If a logo can not be applied in one color as well as full color then it's a bad logo.

Simple as that.

And don't get me started about the lack of meaning, symbolism etc in the logo - in other words, i guess i'm not the only one who just can't see the logo telling *any* story or expressing *any* values about Toronto or its citizens.

3:41 AM  
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5:43 AM  
Blogger Guillermo Gamboa said...

We are Martín Bomrad and Guillermo Gamboa, students of Licentiate in Design of the Visual Communication, of the Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Santa Fe, Argentina.
We are developing our graduation thesis linked to the thematic "City Brand", which possesses in one of their stages, the exhibition of the real cases that they given in different parts of the world. And as you will imagine, we are interested in studying the case of Toronto Unlimited.

About the brand for Toronto, we have gotten in the web site, information linked to their positioning. However, we don't have images of the visual identity applied in real pieces (letter, posters, merchandising, banners, stand, wayfinding, uniforms, etc.) We wanted to request them if they can facilitate us the Brand Manual Guidelines and images where the application of the visual identity is seen.

We want to leave in undoubtedly these images are of great utility for our academic work, and be worth this explanation, to leave sat down that the use of the material that you provide us has exclusively academic ends.

Lastly, we wanted to request him him to respond us the following consultation:
- at the moment, who does administer the communications of Toronto Unlimited?
- is the visual identity, applied in municipal communications of internal use? (example: vehicles, uniforms, wayfinding of dependences, etc.)

We will be very grateful for your answer.

Thank you for everything,

Martín Bomrad. Guillermo Gamboa

PD: If you cann't respond us, derive this mail to the person enabled to answer. We have sent many messages to Toronto Unlimited official site, but we don't receive answer.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Ana said...

Good morning,

My name is Ana and I am a Corporate Communications student at Seneca College.

The reason I am commenting is because for one of my classes I am writing a periodical on "Toronto Unlimited."

Upon researching the brand I found that every article written about it was negative criticism. I want to write an article to give Toronto Tourism (and others close to it) a chance to actually defend the brand.

Three years after it was released, the negative criticism still flows in and yet, no one is standing up for it.

I was very glad to find this blog. If you feel passionate about the work done, you should defend it.

Is there any way that I could ask you a few questions regarding the process the team went through and what you were trying to do and communicate?

I can be reached by email at or by phone at 416-817-8734. Also, if you post a reply here I should be able to receive follow up comments.

I would really appreciate the opportunity to get your side of the story in order to write my periodical. However, this is a time sensitive project as it is due, in its entirety, in 2 weeks.

Have a great weekend,

6:47 AM  

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