The State of Branding: Washington (From Washington D.C Flags to Washington D.C Brands)


image of Washington D.C city


33 min read

From the Washington D.C flag, to famous museums and tourist attractions in Washington D.C, we’re taking you to the next stop on our state of branding tour.

Before we jump into this great state, we need to clear up the difference between ‘Washington D.C’ and ‘Washington’ as these are two very different places from across the pond.

For starters, ‘Washington’ is a small town in the North East of England and is very quaint and picturesque.

Washington D.C is a state in the US, and is going to be the focus of this blog post. The ‘DC’ stands for ‘District of Columbia’ which is how the state was formerly known.

Now that we’ve cleared those two up, let’s recap which US states we’ve already explored. For reference, we’ve put links to all of these blogs below so make sure you give them a read:

In case you’re unfamiliar with our ‘state of branding’ tour, it’s a series of blog posts we’re creating about different states in the US.

In each of these posts we’ve been looking at key facts, key cities, and branding examples from a range of different sectors such as sports, business, art, and education.

The idea is to take a deep dive into what the state has to offer from a branding perspective since each one is so vast.

As a global creative agency who specializes in branding, weighing up different design choices and analyzing what makes a brand successful (or not) is what we do best.

After all, we’ve worked with clients from the US to Singapore, and branding is something we’re genuinely passionate about.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!
back of the the white house Washington d.c

Washington Branding

Population: 7.5 million
Timezone: Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
Abbreviation: WA

To keep things consistent throughout the blog post, we’ll be looking at the flag and seal for the state of Washington D.C as well as the 4 key cities (which we’ll outline below).

However, for the state of Washington, we thought we’d also provide some useful information and top facts in case you’re curious to know more about this location.

Maybe you’ve never been to this state before and are curious to know more about it?

In that case, grab a coffee and read on!
washington dc flag on black background

Washington Flag

The Washington D.C flag was adopted in 1938 and consists of three red stars above two red bars on a white background.

It is based on the personal coat of arms of George Washington (the first president of the US) which was similar but had red rowels (sharp-pointed disks at the ends of spurs) instead of stars.

In terms of design, all credit can be awarded to Charles A. R. Dunn who submitted a design based on the ‘Washington’ family coat of arms.

However, it took 14 years (and many other design options) before this flag was officially adopted on October 15, 1938.

Because of this long delay, the flag’s design was originally attributed to Melvin C. Hazen and Arthur E. Du Bois who both sat on the Commission.

It wasn’t until 19 years later in 1957 that Dunn published an article titled ‘The Origins of the District of Columbia Flag’ which stated his involvement in the flags design.

And rightly so!

Whilst the Washington D.C flag is simple in design, featuring just 2 colors and 3 stars, it does carry a lot of meaning which is very powerful.
Washinton DC seal on black background

Washington Seal

From first glance, the Washington D.C seal is very, very different from the Washington D.C flag.

In fact, everything about it is different, from the color scheme, to the images, to the general visual aesthetic.

For starters, the Washington D.C flag is very minimalistic and quite abstract. There’s no photography and there’s no text, it’s just lines and stars.

In complete contrast, the Washington Seal looks more playful and relaxed. There’s also a lot going on with the color palette too, which is a lot warmer than the red and white colors used on the flag.

So, what does the image actually depict?

The District of Columbia’s official seal features Lady Justice hanging a wreath on a statue of George Washington with the words “JUSTITIA OMNIBUS” (Latin for “Justice for All”) in white banners towards the bottom.

You’ll also see the date “1871” (the year in which the District was organized in its present form).

The background shows the U.S. Capitol building and a train steaming across a viaduct under the rising sun. The meaning of these images is unknown, but together, they build a powerful and strong visual aesthetic.
birds eye view of Washington DC monument

Key Cities in Washington

Washington D.C has 631 cities in total, with some cities being a lot larger (and more well known) than others.

The ones we have chosen to explore in this blog post are what we would define as the ‘main cities’, and by this, we mean the cities that tourists to the area would most likely know.

Here’s a quick rundown of the cities we’ll be covering in this post:

  • Seattle
  • Olympia
  • Tacoma
  • Vancouver

Later in the post, we will look at branding related to each of these cities — like we have in the previous posts — so keep reading!

Outside of having large populations, all of these cities are known for a mixture of different things, be it education, business, nightlife or a mix of all three.

To help break up our state of branding exploration, we’re going to look at various branding examples from a range of sectors to give you a better insight of what Washington D.C has to offer.

After all, this state is so vast and as the capital city of the US, there is a lot to dive into.

But first things first.

Let’s take a look at some key facts about the city before jumping into branding.

Some of these facts are both weird and wonderful, but the whole idea is to give you a flavor of what Washington D.C is like as a state.

Key Facts about Washington

From being the US capital, to being home to some monumental buildings (such as the White House), Washington DC is full of surprising and fun facts.

  • Two American presidents kept alligators at the White House. Both Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.
  • President Jimmy Carter loved to watch movies in the White House. ​​To date, nobody has beat his record of watching 480 movies in the White House movie theater.
  • Washington D.C. citizens love their wine. It’s a fact that these folks drink more wine per capita than any other US state.
  • Darth Vadar adorns the national cathedral. This iconic building has many gargoyles and one of them is the sculpted head of Darth Vader. Bring binoculars and check him out on the northwest tower.
  • Washington D.C is missing ‘J’ street. Washington DC uses letters for streets traveling east to west. But numbers are also used for streets. Streets traveling north and south are numbered. The “I” and “J” were very similar in older English. Quite often they were interchangeable. Thomas Jefferson would often use the initials T.I. Oddly enough, this is also why there was no J company during WWII. So there is no J Street because it looks like an I.
  • There are marble bathtubs in the capitol building. They were installed in 1859 to keep the senators from stinking; during that time, they lived in boarding houses that had no running water.
  • There are elevators in the capitol building that are off limits. This is because they are reserved for senators.
  • There are underground tunnels beneath the capitol building. Miles and miles of tunnels are for senators and members of the House only and are never seen by the public.
  • There’s a crypt under the capitol building that was made for George Washington. Although he was not buried there, the crypt still exists; they also had a viewing chamber built so people could go by and see him.
  • D.C’s metro is the second busiest subway system in the US. Beat out only by New York City, which has an average weekday ridership of over 9 million people.
  • The Washington football team was not originally from Washington. The team was actually first based in Boston.
  • There’s a spy museum here. One of the world’s only museums of its kind, the International Spy Museum continues to intrigue guests in Washington DC.
  • All roads in the city lead to the capitol building. It’s the dividing center for all the quadrants of the city, so all roads actually do lead there
  • There’s a ghost cat in the capitol. In the Supreme Court chamber inside the Capitol, there are cat paw prints just outside the door. The floor was set before it arrived at the U.S. Capitol, so no one knows where they really came from, but legend tells of a ghost cat lingering.
  • Washington D.C gets more rain than Seattle. Only about 2 inches more on average, yet still surprising.
  • There are 35 bathrooms in the White House in total. Who knew? There are also 132 rooms and 6 levels in the residence. Even more staggering are the 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.
  • The oldest fish market in the US is in D.C. The Maine Avenue Fish Market opened its doors in 1805 and has been operating ever since.
  • The city is named after Christopher Columbus. DC stands for District of Columbia and it was deemed so to honor the famed explorer.
  • Seattle skyline

    Seattle Branding

    Population: 741, 251
    Timezone: Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
    Abbreviation: SEA

    Seattle is the largest metropolis of the Pacific Northwest, and one of the largest and most affluent urban centers in the United States.

    As a major port of entry and an air and sea gateway to Asia and Alaska, Seattle lies alongside Puget Sound, a deep inland arm of the northern Pacific Ocean.

    The city was officially settled on November 13, 1851, at what is now West Seattle. In terms of its name, this derives from the Native American leader Seattle, chief of the Duwamish, Suquamish, and other tribes of the Puget Sound area.

    When it comes to visiting this city, you’ll notice that no two streets are the same.

    Those near the Duwamish Waterway southwest of the city center, are industrial in character, marked by rail yards, cranes, and low-income housing projects. Others, largely outside the city center, are showcases for the opulence wrought by Seattle’s booming high-technology sector.

    The business scene is also booming, thanks to the ever-growing technology sector (as mentioned above).

    A lot of people enjoy living and working in the city of Seattle, as there is so much to see and do.

    For starters, the downtown district is Seattle’s commercial heart. Of particular interest to tourists is the Pike Place Market, a sheltered area of fresh fish and produce shops, other retail stores, bars and restaurants.

    Seattle also serves as the chief financial and commercial center for the Pacific Northwest.

    The Seattle-born Starbucks coffee-shop chain and, an Internet-based retailer (two brands I’m sure you’ve all heard of) now stretch across the world. These are two brands which we’ll be exploring in more detail below so stay tuned.
    Seattle flag on black background

    Seattle Flag

    Now you might be surprised by the Seattle flag, as it looks a little different from the ‘typical’ design of a flag which can be quite corporate.

    In contrast, this emblem is much more fluid and colorful, and almost doesn’t look like a flag at all!

    Featuring the Seattle city logo (a portrait of Chief Seattle surrounded by two lines), it has the words “City of Goodwill” above and “Seattle” below.

    The teal and white color palette is also very interesting, as they are not colors you would usually associate with a flag meaning they go against the ‘norm’.

    In fact, the flag has been criticized for breaking conventional rules for ‘good flag design’ particularly due its complex design that incorporates the city seal.

    I really like it and don’t see why flags need to follow set ‘rules’ or principles. Of course with anything, there has to be boundaries, but I think this design really works.

    There is also a great deal of symbolism to it as the white and teal blue/green is supposed to represent the color of Puget Sound at dusk.

    Full credit for the design of the Seattle flag can be given to architect David Wright.

    The flag was first designed for use during the Goodwill Games, and has been in place ever since.
    Seattle seal on black background

    Seattle Seal

    In contrast to the color used on the Seattle flag, the Seattle seal is in black and white.

    Comprising a portrait of Chief Seattle, you can see the Arabic numerals 1869 underneath – the year of the city’s incorporation in the Common Era.

    This is surrounded by two circles which makes the design feel more authoritative and bolder.

    The words ‘Corporate Seal Of The’ sit within the outer circle, and the words ‘City of Seattle’ are in the inner circle.

    The original design was by James A. Wehn and cast by Richard Fuller and was adopted by the Seattle City Council in the late 1930s. Prior to this, the city had used a notary type seal, and over time, the seal went through many re-designs.

    However, the original seal was re-designed and replaced in 1974 with a more simplistic aesthetic as part of Seattle’s larger branding effort.

    It was then re-designed again in the 1980s and then in the 1990s to match the adoption of the Seattle City logo (above).

    As mentioned before, the Corporate Seal of the City of Seattle is very different from the official Seattle City Logo which creates a good contrast. Certain elements of the seal are featured in the insignia of many workers, including the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department.

    Seattle Branding: Starbucks and The Seattle Thunderbirds

    Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the Seattle flag and Seattle seal, it’s time to look at some other branding examples in this city.

    From multinational coffeehouse, Starbucks, to junior ice hockey team, The Seattle Thunderbirds, we’ve got a pretty mixed bag.

    So, let’s get started!
    outside of starbucks coffee shop


    The first Starbucks store, or the original Starbucks as it were, was in the Pike Place Market in the downtown core of Seattle.

    It was established in 1971 and has since become a major tourist attraction, regulating hosting crowds.

    In line with this, it has kept its appearance over the years and is bound by design guidelines and historic significance.

    In terms of branding I think this is very important, and is one of the reasons why so many tourists visit the location today. The pike Place Market will always hold a great deal of significance for Starbucks as it’s where the brand’s story began.

    Of course coffee drinkers all over the globe now know and love Starbucks, but it all had to start somewhere.

    Therefore, retaining design elements of the original aesthetic is very meaningful and keeps the brand rooted in its history.

    While the design has changed and been refined over the years, the deep green color remains synonymous with the Starbucks brand.

    This is immediately visible at the original Starbucks location as the shop exterior is painted in this color. For anyone passing by, you would know straight away that it was a Starbucks which creates that instant connection between the past and the present.

    Whilst some things will inevitably change within your brand, it’s important to retain those elements that make you who you are.
    seattle thunderbirds logo on black background

    The Seattle Thunderbirds

    The Seattle Thunderbirds are a junior ice hockey team based in the city of Kent, Washington, which lies South of Seattle.

    They are part of the U.S. Division of the Western Conference in the Western Hockey League.

    Originally known as the Vancouver Nats of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), the team was founded back in 1971 and have enjoyed several successes since.

    If we start by taking a look at their logo, the design depicts a Native American carving of a thunderbird with the word “Seattle” spread across it.

    To tie back to what the sport is all about, two hockey sticks frame the word ‘Seattle’ drawing more attention to the location.

    Whilst the logo showcases a simple color palette of navy, green, and white, these colors together are very strong and work effectively across a range of merchandise.

    My only comment is that it would have been good to feature the word ‘thunderbirds’ somewhere on the logo, even if it sat small below the word ‘Seattle’.

    Just seeing the location of the team doesn’t really communicate their full identity, so it would have been good to feature this

    Both the logo and the colors used are very similar to the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League.

    Their uniforms are also very similar to those of the Hartford Whalers from 1992 to 1997, who boasted a green and navy palette on the players’ tops.
    purple sunset over Olympia washington

    Olympia Branding

    Population: 52, 290
    Timezone: Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
    Abbreviation: Oly

    Olympia is the capital city of the state of Washington in the United States.

    Originally laid out in 1851 as Smithfield, it became the site of a U.S. customs house and was renamed ‘Olympia’ due to the nearby Olympic Mountains.

    Chosen as the territorial capital in 1853, Olympia developed port facilities and a lumber-based economy, augmented by oyster farming, brewing, dairying, and other industries.

    It officially became a city on January 28, 1859 and since then, its population has continued to grow.

    The people of Olympia are called Olympians, and every year, the city holds a parade called ‘Procession of the Species’ in which people dress up as all sorts of animals and dance through the streets.

    It’s quite an occasion!

    In terms of geography, Olympia is on the water (Puget Sound) and close to dark green forests and high mountains such as the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier.

    The majority of the year is cloudy and rainy (unfortunate news for the Olympians), but the weather does tend to improve in the summer months.

    Many people in Olympia work for the government of the State of Washington and every year, state representatives and state senators go to Olympia to make laws and to pass a budget.

    Olympia is also the home of the Olympia Farmers Market and The Evergreen State College, which we’ll be exploring in more detail below.
    Olympia flag on black background

    Olympia Flag

    It’s safe to say the Olympia flag is quite basic.

    Now, that’s not to say it isn’t effective, but it’s not the most brave either in terms of design.

    That said, let’s dig into this some more…

    In the hoist half of the flag you can see the city’s ovoid logo which is divided more or less in half horizontally.

    In the upper half is Washington’s state capitol building with snow-capped mountains in the background toward the hoist.

    A vibrant, blue sky also consumes the top of the logo behind the mountain peak and capitol dome, bringing so much needed color and energy.

    Across the center of the logo in front of the capitol, is a swath of bluish green depicting the capitol grounds.

    Below, in the remainder of the logo, is a section depicting water in two shades of blue which creates a nice piece of mirroring with the blue sky above.

    On the opposite half of the logo are the words ‘City of OLYMPIA’ in slightly larger letters, all in dark blue which stands out perfectly against the white background.

    The whole idea behind the logo depicts a scenic view of the statehouse among the natural beauty surrounding Washington’s capitol building.

    I think the design really works, but would have liked to see a little more color, perhaps from flowers in the grounds.

    Olympia Seal

    Unfortunately we’ve drawn a blank with this one!

    I can’t seem to find any designs or emblems for the ‘Olympia seal’.

    The only search result coming back is the Washington Seal which we’ve already covered above.

    So, we’ll move onto our next section which involves driving into branding examples from across the city…

    Olympia Branding: The Evergreen State College and Olympia Farmers Market

    From the Olympia flag to the Olympia seal, I hope you feel as though you know a little more about this city now.

    We’re moving onto some other branding examples from across Olympia, including an arts college and a local farmers market.

    Let’s take a look.
    the evergreen state college logo on black background

    The Evergreen State College

    The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington, and was founded in 1967.

    Following some criticism, it offers a non-traditional undergraduate curriculum in which students have the option to design their own study towards a degree or follow a predetermined path of study.

    Evergreen was one of many colleges and programs launched in the 1960s and 1970s, often described as ‘experiments’.

    But back to branding!

    When it comes to the logo, there is a lot to unpack.

    Whilst it might look simple at first glance, there is a lot of meaning behind the different elements that have been included.

    For starters, the logo is a silhouette of a Western red cedar, along the Puget Sound coastline. This represents Evergreen’s main campus which is located close to the southern end of the Puget Sound.

    You will also see the sun on the logo which can be viewed as a symbol of nature and beauty. These concepts are synonymous with the college’s ethos as they dedicate 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land to be used as a natural laboratory for field research.

    The name ‘Evergreen’ also supports this ethos, and immediately communicates how the college is working towards a greener and more sustainable future.
    inside of Olympia farmers market
    Credit to Olympia Farmers Market

    Olympia Farmers Market

    There is something so special about the Olympia Farmers Market.

    I think that having somewhere local that supports farmers and smaller business owners is so important.

    This market gives these people a chance to sell their local produce without being dominated by the ‘big boys’.

    It also brings people together, and has a great bustling environment that both businesses and local people enjoy. It holds social importance just as much as it holds business importance.

    According to their website, the mission of Olympia Farmers Market is to:

    “To nourish our community, support small-scale local agriculture, and cultivate a healthy economy by providing a vibrant gathering place where growers, makers, and producers are empowered to offer direct access to quality goods and fresh food.”

    You can feel the heart and soul that goes into keeping this place going.

    For this section we’re going to analyze the branding of the website, as this is what immediately pulls you in and makes you want to visit.

    Regardless of where you are in the world, the use of emotive language and powerful imagery makes you want to visit the Olympia Farmers Market so that you can do your bit to help.

    There’s something incredibly powerful about helping small business owners, as you know they truly benefit from the profits.

    Throughout the website, there is a big emphasis on people and how the market extends beyond your typical shopping experience. Instead, you can do something good whilst also meeting up with friends and socializing.
    bridge in Tacoma

    Tacoma Branding

    Population: 215, 766
    Timezone: Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
    Abbreviation: TAC

    Tacoma, Washington, is the third largest city in Washington state.

    It is located in western Washington on Commencement Bay, off the southern tip of Puget Sound and lies 25 miles northeast of Olympia and 26 miles south of Seattle.

    The peak of Mount Rainier is roughly 40 miles to the southeast and dominates much of the skyline.

    Tacoma has quite a history as in 1852, the first saw mill was constructed and many more have since followed.

    The railroad also came to Tacoma in the late 1800’s in order to link up with shipping vessels using the deep water bay.

    For any of you who don’t know, this is where the city’s nickname “City of Destiny” originated.

    Coming forward to the modern day, Tacoma is the 6th largest shipping port in North America, making the city a major player in the wave of economic globalization.

    On top of this, the city Tacoma has won many awards such as:

    • 1990 – Fourth Best Place to Live by Money Magazine
    • 1995 – Top Mid-Sized City for Small Businesses by Entrepreneur Magazine
    • 1998 – All-American City by the National Civic League
    • 2004 – Most Liveable Region (Tacoma-Pierce County) by Partners for Liveable Communities

    Best place to live and most liveable region?

    That’s something to be proud of, and provides an insight into what Tacoma is like as a city!

    There are some well known companies with a presence in the city such as Boeing, State Farm Insurance,, and REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.).

    The University of Washington, Tacoma, is also located here which we’ll be delving into further in the post!
    Tacoma flag on black background

    Tacoma Flag

    The Tacoma flag is basic but effective, boasting a color palette of royal blue and gold.

    If we look at the design in more detail, there’s quite a lot to unfold so let’s get into it!

    The city seal sits in the center of the flag, encircled by a gold ring.

    Over the top half of the design are the worlds ‘SEAL OF THE CITY OF TACOMA’ which are followed by a small blue-outlined star at the midpoints of the ring.

    Below is the date ‘1884’ which represents the year of the city’s incorporation.

    The center of the seal shows Mount Tacoma (now Mount Rainier) in blue, rising from a horizontal line about one-third of the way from the top of the seal which creates a very powerful aesthetic.

    Centered below the mountain is a bridge with four arches over a waterway that widens to fill the bottom of the seal.

    If you look very closely you’ll see an old-fashioned train with coal tender and two cars crossing the bridge in the direction of the fly.

    Two small steamships can also be seen (if you look very, very closely) one on either side of the waterway.

    There have been various flag designs before this one came into use, so it will be interesting to see how the design changes over the years to come!
    Tacoma seal on black background

    Tacoma Seal

    The Tacoma seal is already shown on the Tacomo flag which creates a good connection between both emblems.

    The Tacoma flag was developed as part of the city’s Corporate Identity Program, which calls for the use of the city seal on all materials related to official, policy-making activities of the mayor and city council.

    It was believed that the seal, because of its historic significance, would reinforce the official status of the flag.

    Therefore, the seal is included on the current version of the Tacomo flag to add a sense of authority and importance.

    However, when looking at the seal in isolation, it is interesting to see the color-version as this makes the appearance feel much warmer.

    The use of color also makes it a lot easier to distinguish the different elements and makes the overall aesthetic clearer.

    Tacoma Branding: The University of Washington and The Museum of Glass

    After looking at the Tacoma flag and Tacoma seal, it’s time to look at some other branding examples in this city.

    From The University of Washington (which has campuses in Tacoma), to a contemporary glass museum, there’s a lot to sink our teeth into!

    So, let’s get into it.
    university of Washington tacoma campus
    Credit to University of Washington Tacoma

    The University of Washington

    The University of Washington Tacoma (UW Tacoma) is a campus of the University of Washington and is located in Tacoma, Washington.

    This campus first opened in 1990 in leased space before opening its permanent campus in 1997.

    Following the establishment of The Evergreen State College in Olympia in 1967 (as discussed above), interest in additional higher education opportunities in the South Sound continued to grow.

    As a result, in 1986 the Higher Education Coordinating Board suggested branch campuses for both the University of Washington and Washington State University with Tacoma and Bothell being chosen as new UW campus sites.

    The site received some initial controversy as in Tacoma, the decision was made to breathe new life into abandoned buildings instead of razing the buildings and erecting new ones.

    However, the decision has since been heralded for its foresight as lots of businesses followed suit and opened in the immediate area for the first time in years.

    Essentially, the opening of the UW Tacoma campus gave the area a new lease of life and injected some much needed energy back into the place.

    Tying this back to the university and how it aims to help learners, I think there is a powerful message here. Crucially, it shows students what you can achieve when you put a bit of effort into it.

    Instead of taking the easy decision to knock down the old buildings and create something brand new, the University spent time and energy making the buildings beautiful again.

    Therefore, there’s a deeper meaning behind this decision which is embroidered into the identity of the university.
    museum of glass logo on black background

    The Museum of Glass

    Located in Tacoma, Washington, the Museum of Glass is a contemporary art museum dedicated to glass and glassmaking.

    Since opening in 2002, MOG has established a reputation for hosting impactful and engaging artist residencies, exhibiting nationally traveling exhibitions, and creating unique programs for visitors.

    It’s a very unique museum as there’s not many venues where you can watch live glassmaking, experience glass art from numerous artists, and have the chance to try your hand at it.

    For visitors, MOG creates a truly immersive and engaging experience, which is why it is such a popular tourist attraction.

    In fact in 2017, USA Today listed Museum of Glass as a top ten tourist destination in Washington State.

    From the building’s exterior, to the many exhibitions displayed inside of the MOG, it is truly incredible.

    For starters the outside of the building boasts a huge glass cone, which almost looks as though it is leaning to one side. It creates visual interest for the get-go and makes you more excited to explore what’s inside the walls.

    From some weird and wonderful pieces, to a series of kids collections, there is plenty to see and do regardless of what age you are.

    The logo for the Museum of Glass is quite ambitious and could represent a number of different things. To me, the red speech bubble-like shape mirrors the cone that can be found outside of the museum, and the black circle is like a pin.

    This puts the museum firmly on the map as it were, and solidifies the importance of the museum for those visiting the area.
    aerial view of Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver

    Vancouver Branding

    Population: 675,218
    Timezone: Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
    Abbreviation: Van

    Now we know Vancouver is actually in Canada, but it’s so close to Washington, and has so much to offer, that we thought we’d include it.

    So, stick with us on this one, we promise our geography is not as bad as it might seem!

    Nestled among snow-capped mountains, Vancouver has one of the most picturesque settings of any city in the world.

    Its climate is marked by mild wet winters and moderately warm summers which makes it a very comfortable place to work and live.

    Vancouver is the industrial, commercial, and financial heart of British Columbia, with trade and transportation at the core of its economy.

    The region also has strong travel links and is served by three rail lines, with connections to the United States. Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Island in Richmond, providing air links to elsewhere in Canada and to the rest of the world.

    Compared to other regions, Vancouver is a cheaper place to live.

    This is also a big attraction for many industries including television and film production. In fact, in the early 21st century it ranked after Los Angeles and New York City as the third largest film-production location in North America.

    It seems these companies are attracted to the city due to its lower production costs, and the availability of professional local crews.

    Vancouver has lots of key attractions such as the B.C. Place Stadium which is the city’s main venue for major sporting events and concerts, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
    vancouver flag on black background

    Vancouver Flag

    Whenever I look at the Vancouver flag, it always makes my eyes feel a little funny!

    I think it’s because of the blue, wavy lines which start to look as though they’re moving if you stare at them for too long.

    Or maybe I’ve just been drinking too much coffee?!

    The flag of Vancouver was designed by Robert Watt, the director of the Vancouver Museum at the time, and was adopted by the Vancouver City Council on May 17, 1983.

    Featuring a white field with five wavy blue lines, and a green pentagon on the hoist side of the flag, it is quite simple in terms of design.

    You’ll also see a gold shield with the city badge in the center of the green pentagon which contains a mural crown with crossed ax and paddle.

    So, what does all of this stand for?

    The white and blue colors symbolize Vancouver’s position as a natural harbor on the Pacific Ocean, with the blue obviously representing the waters.

    The green pentagon represents the land on which the city was built, and the forests which stood on the land all those years ago.

    These elements echo the motto on the pre-1969 municipal coat of arms, By Sea and Land We Prosper.

    Moving onto the crown, this reflects Vancouver’s status as an incorporated city, while the ax and paddle represent the city’s industries – logging and fishing.

    Before adopting this design, Vancouver had a different flag which was the result of a contest held in the 1970s, with the winning entry submitted by a man named Rudolph Danglemaier.

    The design of this flag featured a white Canadian pale flanked by a green stripe on the hoist side, and a blue stripe on the fly side. The shield, helmet, mantling and crest from the city arms were placed in the center of the flag, which is very different from the design we see today.
    vancouver seal on black background

    Vancouver Seal

    The Vancouver city seal was officially adopted in 1969 after being designed by City Alderman Lauchlan Hamilton.

    The design was very simple and featured images such as a tree, a sailing ship, and a train.

    In this respect, it did not conform to any rules of heraldry. Similarly to what I said earlier in the blog, I think it’s quite refreshing when flag designs (and seal designs) challenge the ‘norm’.

    The seal designed by Hamilton was used up until 1903, when a new armorial achievement was assumed.

    This time it was designed by James Blomfieldand, and features certain elements used in the current coat of arms, including the logger and the fisherman, as well as the blue, wavy lines to represent the ocean.

    Furthermore, it keeps the motto from the previous emblem which states ‘By Sea Land and Air We Prosper.’

    The development of the current coat of arms started in 1928, when the city council attempted to register the arms designed by James Blomfield with the College of Arms.

    After a lot of back and forth, the grant of arms was finally approved on 31 March 1969.

    Vancouver Branding: B.C. Place Stadium and Vancouver Whitecaps FC

    From the Vancouver flag to the Vancouver seal, it’s time to explore some other branding examples from across the city.

    For this section we’re going to explore B.C Place Stadium, a premier venue for live events, and the Vancouver Whitecaps, a professional soccer team.

    So, let’s dive in.
    B.C place stadium logo on black background

    B.C. Place Stadium

    BC Place Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is located at the north side of False Creek.

    The venue is currently the home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL), Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the annual Canada Sevens (part of the World Rugby Sevens Series), as well as the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

    For a venue which hosts live events, you couldn’t get a more fitting logo.

    Whilst we’ve tried to steer clear of just focusing on the logo for the branding examples mentioned in the blog, I think the B.C Place Stadium deserves a different treatment.

    Above the words ‘BC Place’, there’s an array of white and blue lines which emulate a concert in motion.

    The white lines look like beams of light which you would expect to see from a concert or gig when a performer is on stage. As such, there is real thought and purpose behind the logo design.

    I think the color blue is also a good choice as it’s very neutral. It doesn’t really specify what kind of events the venue hosts, and it doesn’t lean towards a specific area.

    For instance, science museums usually have hints of green in the logo to signpost towards earth and nature.

    However, the B.C Place Stadium hosts such a variety of events (from sports to music concerts), that blue is an all-encompassing color that covers all bases.
    vancouver white caps logo on black background

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC

    The Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club is a Canadian professional soccer team based in Vancouver, Washington.

    They compete in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member club of the league’s Western Conference and were established in 2009.

    In 2010, it was announced that the club would continue using the name “Whitecaps”, but with a different logo.

    The name of the club holds a lot of significance as it represents the geographic features surrounding the city such as the snow-capped mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean’s white-capped waves to the west.

    As such, changing the name, would mean losing all of this meaning and back story which roots the soccer team in its location.

    Moving over the colors, they include navy blue (“deep sea”), white, and light blue.

    The “deep sea” blue represents the maritime landscape of the Vancouver area and the “Whitecaps blue” indicates the reflection of the North Shore Mountains in the Pacific Ocean. So again, there’s a lot of thought and meaning behind the color choices too.

    If we look at the lighter shade of blue it also alludes to the primary color of the original Whitecaps, winners of Soccer Bowl 1979. The silver outline pays homage to the team’s championship victories since 1974.

    The State of Branding: Washington (From Washington D.C Flags to Washington D.C Brands)

    So, there you have it.

    From Seattle, to Olympia, to Tacoma, to Vancouver, we’ve taken you on an in-depth exploration of all things branding in Washington state.

    As mentioned in the intro, we love looking at different design choices and analyzing why certain elements have been chosen.

    When it comes to the branding examples discussed in this blog, there’s a great deal of meaning and symbolism behind each design choice. And that’s what makes branding so powerful, as it is a visual means of communication.

    At Canny, branding is something we’re very passionate about. Our team of experts have worked with multiple clients from the UK to the US, to transform their branding into something that delivers, every single time.

    To find out how we can help your next project, simply get in touch!