Category Archives: Around Calgary

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

The beginning of July signals a variety of different things for a variety of different people who understand the significance of the Calgary Stampede. For the locals, it’s either high time to get out of town or entertain the option of staying at home to face the prospect of digging out your craziest cowboy shirts and sneaking sheepishly into work for pancake fueled chaos. For tourists, it’s time to cram your kids into the station wagon and head on down to the Stampede Grounds for the smell of livestock manure, cotton candy, and puke inducing entertainment options. Personal preferences aside, the beginning of July certainly offers choice and does so at a frenetic pace. In a similar fashion, this post offers a variety of thoughts in a comparable format. Hold on to your hats!

No Frills

No Frills
Our first subject for discussion is the matter of The Real Canadian Superstore’s low-cost alternative called “No Frills”. You’ll find this supermarket in most small towns where people don’t seem to mind shopping at oddly named grocery stores. You’ll also find that this newly launched brand looks remarkably similar to Oh Henry! chocolate bars. We are unsure whether this was caused by a marketing team with a sweet tooth or just a meaningless coincidence.

Koodo Mobile

Koodo Mobile
As No Frills is to The Real Canadian Superstore, so Koodo Mobile is to Telus. Koodo is Telus’ cellulite busting low-cost cellular carrier who’s ads have been all over the mainstream media for the last few months and certainly deserve mention for their 80′s style fitness routines and outrageous spandex-clad models. Koodo was introduced to compete with Solo Mobile, Bell’s low cost alternative, and Fido from Rogers. The ads are fairly clever and attractive to a hip, young audience who appreciates nonsense and irreverence. Perhaps the most un-nerving aspect of this recent campaign is the offer to eliminate the system access fee as if it’s never been needed while at the same time, Telus customers still have to pay this outrageous $7 charge on a monthly basis. It’s the same gall-darn company for goodness sake! Something should be done about this.

Wealth Street

Wealthstreet’s New Offices
Switching gears, we’d like to bring to your attention the bizarre new offices for Wealthstreet, a Calgary based investment organization. This multi-coloured, Eastern influenced building is entirely out of context as you arrive to discuss your mutual funds. This is until you realize that its previous occupant was an overpriced Oriental restaurant. Although it seems a wise investment to purchase prime commercial space on MacLeod Trail for the future, conducting business in such a strange setting may discourage some potential clients from taking Wealthstreet seriously. Some work on their non-uniform corporate identity may also be advantageous to the future of their marketing plans as it seems to appear differently online and in real life. Just some food for thought if you don’t mind the pun.

Live at Luna

Live at Luna
While we’re on the subject of architectural choices, the beltline is a certainly the place to be for residential real estate opportunities. Luna is a new building scheduled for completion construction this summer. If the advertising is any indication, this building will be intelligently designed. Currently, the billboard promoting the site is nicely designed with simplistic elements, excellent rendered artwork, and a well chosen domain name that’s easy to remember. To top it all off, the moon in the billboard has been created by cutting out the wood to reveal an illuminated panel that makes the moon/logo light up at night. Nice touch.

Stampede Billboard

2008 Stampede Advertising
This post would not be complete if we failed to mention this year’s Stampede advertising. Above is one billboard in series of people ripping off their shirts to reveal true western spirit underneath. Consider it mentioned and have a happy Stampede!

Heritage Park Logos

Heritage Park has recently come to the conclusion that perhaps the past is no longer relevant. Please don’t be alarmed. This new philosophy is only being adopted in their approach to branding and primarily presents itself to Calgarians in the form of a modernized logo.

Your friends at Elbowruminations feel this logo is certainly a step forward in time from the previous logo which was a gigantic “H” accompanied by an equally large axe. Although the previous iteration could be successfully classified as either charming and retro in an rustic, distinctively pioneery way or alternatively exceptionally cheesy in nature, the new logo has many things going for it.

The first advantage of the new logo is in the pragmatic details that was bestowed upon it by the team responsible for its design. The simplistic one colour design is an efficient and thrifty method of keeping printing costs down. This colour scheme is also a pairing that evokes the kind of patriotism required for an institution that seeks to celebrate provincial and national history on a daily basis. Secondly, Another detail that is certainly a welcome innovation is the addition of “Historical Village” as a part of the logo. This is a great way to communicate to tourists, and locals alike, what they can expect to find at Hertiage Park. It may be safe to say that there has always been a lingering question mark in the minds of most people as to what this venue could be classified as. Is it an outdoor museum? An antique amusement park? No! It’s a Historical Village. It’s a great relief to have this matter resolved. The new tagline: “How the West was Once” is also quite a clever play on words and is easily understood.

In terms of the overall image achieved by the logo, our only concern is regarding the wispy nature of the lines used to create the look. The old-timey feeling certainly exists with the intelligent usage of the locomotive. The well kearned, variable letter sizes, with a solid, historical type-face is nice touch. Perhaps it just seems that the smoke surrounding the text is more of a feeble attempt to fill space rather than an aggressive, purposeful technique used to evoke the power and prestige of the old-west, anything is possible, pioneer spirit. This however, is a minor issue when the other positive points are considered.

One last thought is regarding the awkward shape of the logo. It may be difficult to apply properly in situations where seamless integration is required and could be well suited to be applied as in a more cohesive crest-like format rather than in the format of a traditional logo. It would work in an embroidery application and would be well suited to uniforms and shirts.

All in all, the new logo seems to be adjusting nicely to a time far different from what you would typically expect to find at a Historical Village like Heritage Park. Let’s hope the future continues to be friendly.

As tax season descends upon us like a late transit bus, commuters everywhere are being issued a friendly reminder from the Royal Bank of Canada that it might be a good time to think about RRSPs. While ordinarily a reminder like this during tax time might cause a little undue stress, RBC manages to use creativity, colour and simplicity to keep the message stress-free and well-received. If you haven’t already spotted these ads on billboard and bus shelters around Calgary and other Canadian cities, three snapshots are conveniently included below.

RBC’s outdoor RRSP ads play with numbers

The first item the viewer encounters is the creative (nay, ingenious!) twist of typography usage: words like “family,” “health” and “travel” are spelled out with numbers and symbols, employed backwards, upside-down and sideways. Each word is presented upon a blank field of warm colour, and the fine print is tucked away tidily in the white-and-blue swoops that are part of RBC’s consistent branding efforts.

Each ad is accompanied by a concise and simple message summing it all up: “Talk to an advisor about making your RRSP contribution this year,” it might read. Or perhaps: “Our advisors look for what’s important to you, so they can help you create a plan that fits. Speak to an advisor today.” By coupling a creative visual with a straightforward message, the ad has a very high chance of sticking in the viewer’s mind, and even being followed up on.

Each element in this ad speaks “non-intimidating.” It’s refreshing to see a non-traditional colour pallete employed: dimmer shades of summertime colours end up feeling warm, but not obnoxious. With the creative display of numerals and symbols, the ad can almost serve as a recruiting ad for RBC, suggesting that this bank values people who like to play with numbers.

All in all, the simple message, accessible design and creative presentation manages to get viewers into a good mood about money again. Suddenly, instead of numbers spelling out your doom, they’re spelling out words you care about. The ads serve as a reminder that whatever plans you’re making with your finances, it’s important to be working towards your values and dreams, not just wealth accumulation.