Toronto Public Library looks beyond books in rebrand

A new look gives the city's library system flexibility to promote the wide range of services it offers.


Toronto Public Library (TPL) has begun promoting a new brand identity, part of a bigger customer experience strategy aimed at helping meet the changing needs of its customer base and connect them with the full range of services it offers.

The City of Toronto approved plans to revisit the identity as part of its 2016-2017 strategic plan, which came with a budget of $206,250 over two years to help transform the library’s overall brand experience, according to a Toronto City Staff report. Over the course of 2018, Trajectory led an engagement process, dubbed “Toronto Public Library Experience 360,” which included installations at all 100 TPL branches, 16 workshops and additional online feedback.

Participants in that process told TPL they wanted increased visibility of its spaces and services, more personalization and more welcoming online and in-branch experiences, as well as exceptional customer service. They expressed a desire for more opportunities for staff and customers to collaborate and engage with TPL, and wanted TPL to “stay true to its roots.”

The new identity, created by agency Trajectory in partnership with OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre and Design Futures Lab, aims to bring greater flexibility and visibility to the design, based on the library’s “Activate Something Great” tagline.

It centres around a colon that visually helps connect TPL to the “diverse opportunities and experiences the library creates for individuals, communities and the city as a whole,” according to Trajectory. It was designed to offer more opportunities for personalization, enhanced functionality on digital platforms and with new media formats, as well as more visibility of the library’s full range of programs, services and spaces.

The work was first made public at TPL board meeting in January and then gradually rolled-out internally through August, before launching it publicly on Sept. 3.

To support the new branding, Linda Hazzan, director of communications, programming and customer engagement at TPL, says a public campaign is rolling out this fall aimed at helping Torontonians “understand the transformation the library has been undergoing, and engage them in the many things their library has to offer.”

TPL_3TPL began promoting the work on its website and social channels, as well as in placements in the Toronto Star and a cover take-over of Star Metro, earlier this month. But there are many other facets to the campaign, including an “Activate Your Commute” partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission showcasing the library’s digital content, such as free curated e-books people can read during transit. Activations at some subway stations in mid-September will encourage library card registrations and there will be ad placements through a partnership with BAI, which operates TConnect, the WiFi service offered at TTC stations. TPL has also been rolling out new exterior signage across its 100-branch network and incorporating the design in some of its publications.

“We have digital and print designers in-house, whose insights working with the old identity system really helped inform the new one,” Hazzan says. “They’ve really taken to the new system and its elements, and love its flexibility in particular. It gives them room to experiment and be creative, while still providing consistency and unity of design, which is really important when you have multiple designers working with a brand system.”

TPL’s previous visual platform was established in 2002, shortly after the city’s amalgamation, when seven former public library systems in the City of Toronto merged into one.

TPL_BuildingTrajectory proposed bringing on OCAD University as an advisor on the project to help ensure the result would be inclusive and accessible to everyone in Toronto, according to Hazzan.