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Last Impression: Adding colour to a downtown winter

Photos courtesy Shikatani Lacroix Brandesign

Photos courtesy Shikatani Lacroix Brandesign

By Peter Saunders
Toronto’s Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) supports local properties through investment and advocacy efforts aimed at maintaining the district’s position as a premier destination for shopping, entertainment and business. Centred on Yonge Street and extending north to Grosvenor Street, south to Richmond Street, west to Bay Street and east as far as Church Street, the neighbourhood may well be Canada’s most active, in terms of both pedestrian traffic and retail density.

Since 2010, one particularly visible element of the BIA’s efforts has been strategic branding through signage, including banners, kiosks, posters and other components. The organization hired Toronto-based Shikatani Lacroix Brandesign to develop and implement this project, with the goal of showcasing the busy district’s diverse commercial offerings in an appealing manner to the public. It was also important for the branding not to be too specific, so it could appeal to a wide variety of potential sponsors.

Among the more dynamic elements of this branding project is the seasonal banner program. A‘winter magic’ logo was recently redesigned, for example, with a new colour palette and imagery to transition away from autumn.

In one example of avoiding too-specific design concepts, a variety of people’s silhouettes appear on the banners, rather than photos of models. These silhouettes are similar throughout the year to maintain a consistent style, but are also modified somewhat to reflect each season.

The colourful banners are printed by the Flag Store in nearby Woodbridge, Ont., using sufficiently durable vinyl that they can be reused in the future if desired. The Flag Store also handles installation. So far, new banners have been put up twice, in spring and fall 2011.

The Downtown Yonge BIA’s seasonal banners offer promotional opportunities for local businesses, such as Mr. Greenjeans’ Restaurant & Bar.

The Downtown Yonge BIA’s seasonal banners offer promotional opportunities for local businesses, such as Mr. Greenjeans’ Restaurant & Bar.