Category Archives: Around Calgary

News, better design and technology tips for living a more interesting life in Calgary are posted in “Around Calgary”.

You’ll find this logo in the produce department at your neighbourhood Safeway store. The use of colour and balance in this logo is great, with every line leading the eye to the centre of the image. Retro fonts and bursting rays hark back to the reliable, wholesome design style of the 1940s. All of the colours used are colours of fresh fruit, rich vegetables and fertile earth. Even the shape looks like something you could cut open and eat. The use of fonts are fresh and lively, and on a brown background, it’s perfectly excecuted. This is some mighty fine designing.

Not convinced? Check out our counterpoint example, a malnourished produce logo currently trying to get away with “freshening up” the side of a Mandarin orange box.


Calgary’s Greyhound station was built in 1984. Over the twenty-three years it’s been in existence, the facility’s decor and signage has not changed. Plastic-stenciled signs are still displayed over the bay entrances. The original wood grain televisions still hang lifelessly from the roof. There is no route maps or current scheduling information anywhere. Walking into the terminal feels like walking into a museum.

Greyhound seems to be the exception in the transportation industry. Most mass transportation organizations are on the cutting edge of design and communication. Airports are many times the most modern facilities you’ll find in terms of wayfinding, signage, maps, and up to the minute information. Mass transit is also very progressive in it’s thinking. The Los Angles Metro system has an in house design department that consistently hires world-class talent and distributes impressive and exciting print and web material.

Understandably, Greyhound continues to serve a typically rural audience and fits right in with the coffee shops and motels on it’s route, however it may do some good to catch up with the times. We think the Calgary Greyhound station is a good example of poor communication.

Tourist map of downtown CalgaryThis “helpful” map of Downtown Calgary fails on multiple levels:

1) It makes Downtown Calgary look and feel like a boring amusement park designed in 1989. The swooshy, paintbrush-script font, paired with the turquoise/red/yellow colour scheme gives off a distinctly unsophisticated flavour.

2) It is too cluttered to make sense of. While I was taking this photo, I was approached by a couple asking if I knew where “Immigration Canada” was. I said, “Let’s take a look at this map here,” and it took about 3 minutes to find where the Harry Hayes building was on the sign.

Good wayfinding should pay attention to 2 things: recognition & comprehension. As soon as you look at a map, it should be clear what cues you need to look for. For instance, on a good map, within a few seconds, you should “recognize” that the numbers on the map correspond to the numbers on the bottom panel. And then you can look closer: that’s the “comprehension” stage: where you can match the numbers up and figure out where you want to go.

On this map, there are no numbers, no colour-coding, and no legend. The black panel on the bottom is simply a list of buildings that are IN DOWNTOWN CALGARY; it does not tell you where to find them on the map. This photo is too small to see, but every single location marked on this map is written on a 45-degree angle.

Ugh. Unattractive and ineffective. Minus ten points for the Downtown Calgary tourist map.