Nova Scotia

More than trees and tents: Parks Canada looking to update its image

Parks Canada is planning a multi-year brand refresh its public image and broaden awareness about the fact the agency is more than just parks.

Expert will be hired to consult until next spring and launch new brand strategy by early 2021

Parks Canada will soon launch a brand refresh, aimed at placing more attention on national historic sites, such as the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Parks Canada says it's best known for managing the country's national parks, but wants to let the public know there's more to the agency than just trees and tents.

According to a request for proposals published last week, the agency is seeking to hire a contractor to refresh its branding. 

"The organization currently has challenges in communicating its purpose and the broad range of its responsibilities in a consistent, clear and compelling way," the document said.

In addition to Canada's network of 46 national parks, the agency is also responsible for 171 national historic sites and four national marine conservation areas.

The agency's brand recognition jumped in 2017, when it offered free admission to all its sites for Canada's 150th birthday celebrations.

Still, much of the focus was centred on national parks.

Beaver stays, but font and colour may change

The broad goal of the project is to create a consistent brand identity. The hired contractor will be asked to consult with stakeholders and write a "corporate summary" — a single paragraph that explains what Parks Canada is, and what the agency does.

Since the hiring process is underway, Parks Canada officials declined to do an interview. They did, however, answer questions via email.

"This project will focus on consolidating the visual appearance and communications of the brand identity," wrote Megan Damini, a spokesperson for Parks Canada. 

The project's scope of work asks the contractor to review the current brand's visual style, voice, colour and typography.

The request for proposals lists the value of Parks Canada's signage at approximately $40 million.

While the brand refresh will update many aspects of the agency's public image, it's likely the basic signage will remain unchanged, since the cost to modify it would be so high. 

Specifically, the contractor will be asked to "consider the lack of Indigenous language support, and provide recommendations to renew Parks Canada's typographic standards, including the potential to commission a bespoke typeface." 

However, "there are no plans to change the Parks Canada [beaver] logo," wrote Damini.

The consultation phase of the rebranding will be complete next spring. The refreshed brand will be launched in early 2021.

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