RETHINK devise a striking, simple and celebratory identity for Canada’s National Magazine Awards
Since starting in 1977, Canada’s National Magazine Awards has been one of the most prodigious awards ceremonies in the country’s creative publishing industry. For its 2021 edition, the organisation worked with Canadian creative agency RETHINK to create a striking, simple and celebratory identity, visually representing the industry niche via a commonplace graphic device; the magazine spine. Using this idea as their basis, the resulting graphic system explores the relationships publications have with one another; stacking, bouncing and changing perspective to show the variety of work on show.
Opting for Lausanne as the hero typeface, the identity found its inspiration in mid-century Canadian design, an important time for the country’s creative industry which saw design finding its feet. “We chose Lausanne because it’s a contemporary take on a classic that ‘was designed with the intention of responding to historical sans serifs like Helvetica,’” Associate Creative Director Alex Bakker tells us. “Using Lausanne allows the identity to align with the historical context of typography in Canada,” he adds, “while allowing for some moments of warmth and character.”
Continuing to stick to its roots, the identity’s punchy colour palette also found its influence in its design history. “As much as red can be a bit of an expected motif in Canadian design,” Bakker explains, “we relied on that recognition as the main identifier,” using the white of the magazine’s spine to “communicate a Canadian-ness,” as Bakker describes, without becoming a pastiche in the process.
“With red being our ‘Canadian’ moment, the use of gold and silver was used to represent excellence,” he explains, also illustrating the two award levels within each category. “Ultimately we wanted to ensure the magazine spine was the hero of this identity,” Bakker adds, “while ensuring that our colour and typographic choices were reflective of Canadian excellence,” concluding, “perhaps in a more subtle and considered way.”