Portage Close-Up: The YSP Logo

Join Creative Director Demi Pinsonneault as she talks about the inspiration for our “YSP” logo and details the creative process.

When Mike approached me with the logo project, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy (or more specifically that he wasn’t going to go easy on me). He requested something “Canadian”, but not “too much so”; “something unique”, and “simple”, but “classy”, “memorable”, and “eye-catching”. While “perfection” was never explicitly mentioned, it’s tough to imagine the staff here at YSP were interested in anything less.

Countless sketches kick-started the project as we negotiated the general size guidelines. Should it be designed within a box? Rectangular or square? Letter-dominant, or symbolically so?

IMG_9155Initially, we decided that the long-form title “The Yonge Street Portage” should be highlighted. As has been discussed previously, we feel the title strongly projects our thoughts on “Canadian Content”–  what better way for our graphics to emphasize those sentiments than to highlight them.


Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 8.10.14 PMUnfortunately, the early designs didn’t quite hold the promise we had hoped for (pictured below). Despite several modifications to the maple leaf, an addition we felt was necessary (if done correctly), it didn’t mesh with the philosophy we wanted to cultivate with our logo.

Instead, our logo looked like something issued by the Federal Government–maybe a bank signature. (The picture to the right also displays some of the early designs which followed, spawned by some more sketching and brainstorming.)

IMG_9152IMG_9153We began to shift focus; in conjunction with maintaining a nuanced Canadian identity, we desired a brand in both the physical and economic senses of the word. We wanted something that was memorable, but simple. Eventually we took to the acronym “YSP” as an encapsulation of our goals.

With the “YSP” acronym came more flexibility in design–equating to physical “branding”–and more flexibility in marketing — equating to the economic sense of “brand”. As you may have noticed while on our site, “YSP” functions as a defining header for our articles (e.g. “YSP Film”), and that idea was spawned concurrently with the creation of the logo.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 8.10.23 PM

Experimenting with fonts, and the possibility of the maple leaf

As the focus shifted from the general form-factor to more specific detail, we developed a prototype that was used as a placeholder on our site until we could create our own proprietary logo. That place holder was to be used on our Twitter page, as well as here on our WordPress blog.

The original "placeholder"

The original “placeholder”

The team wanted something flexible, where parts could be slightly modified or re-coloured to suit our expansion into cyberspace (i.e. Google +, Tumblr, and Facebook). Moreover, it still had to embody those values that our initiative was founded upon. Eventually we managed to settle upon a design, first with found-fonts from the internet, and then eventually our own custom design.

The final design template

The final design template

With the adoption of an official template, we began expanding and re-colouring to create a logo set that was malleable, but remained recognizable. Red was the obvious first experiment, but I experienced tremendous difficulty adjusting layering and levels of opacity in search of the right combination. Because of the stylistic direction we had taken, the leaf and the “S” were both meant to fade behind the letters “Y” and “P”. Initially we re-coloured the “Y”, “P” and the leaf to be red, but as you can see, blending the leaf and the “S” just

A proverbial “identity parade”, analyzing our suspects in search of the culprit–or in this case the victor.

didn’t work. Increasing the opacity of the the leaf; converting the “S” to red; and a number of other combinations never quite seemed right. They weren’t attention-grabbing so much as stomach-churning.


After side-by-side analysis of our concept art, an idea finally clicked, a design finally popped, and our second colouring was born. This logo has, in many ways, come to trounce the initial black-and-white logo, and seems to embody the YSP “spirit”, if you will.

Of course, finding the “perfect logo” wasn’t enough, and so the team began conversation on some other potential colour schemes. The final logos are collectively shown below.

As our mediums expand, the demand for new and exciting facets of our brand also expands. Perhaps a long-form logo will appear in the not-so-distant future on a (not-so) secret project that we’re working on here at the YSP. Until then, I hope you enjoyed your inside-sneak-peek.


The Original YSP Logo


The logo that can be seen on our Google+ and Facebook pages.


Our monochrome logo, viewable on our twitter and tumblr pages.

Some more concepts, this time of our dark themed logo

Some more concepts, this time of our dark themed logo


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