Provincial government logo designs don't tend to be hugely exciting, but concerned citizens have noticed something strange going on with the British Columbia logo. Visitors to the Canadian province's website and social media accounts have been surprised to discover that some of the letters have disappeared from the wordmark.
Cue plenty of quite wild speculation about what's going on. Maybe British Columbia is transitioning to a textless logo. Maybe the image files suddenly all got corrupted? Some have even speculated that the message is a tribute to Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak. But it turns out it's something much more clever than all of that.
@BCGovNews Um 😶 what’s happening here ?Are you pointing out the Gaps in the system or 🤷♀️ pic.twitter.com/yQWhficiVgJune 14, 2023
Theories on this logo from @BCGovNews? Crazier the better. pic.twitter.com/22jSowVxyWJune 14, 2023
Bitih Clumia? Bitih Clubia? Variations of the British Columbia logo have been cropping up on official government channels with several letters missing. Residents of the Canadian province have been intrigued, turning to social media to ask for theories about what was going on.
There have been lots of theories. "I thought it was their way of saying that the logo was getting old and they want a new one, like a street sign where the letters have worn off," one person suggested. Someone thought the accounts had been hacked and vandalised to highlight holes in public services. Others tried to find an anagram or hidden message in the missing letters, while many people started to link it to news of Sajak's retirement from Wheel of Fortune after more than four decades.
It turns out that's just a wild coincidence. The Ministry of Citizens' Services has clarified that the letters were removed to promote public participation in an ongoing demographic survey. "The altered B.C. logo shows how gaps in services can be filled by participating in the survey," it said.
It's an ingenious use of an institutional design, and it shows that logos can be used to communicate all kinds of messages that were unforeseen when they were designed. We see government logos all the time and they become a kind of permanent background, but a variation to the norm can draw attention. This example created intrigue as people sought an answer, and that's likely to be more effective than posting reminders about the survey.
It seems to be working already. "I applaud the creativity and the cleverness to get people to bite. I’ll do your survey. Well done, Communications Team," one person wrote on Facebook. "A+ to the social media team for creating a logo that invites people to engage with you, and that you can respond with," someone else wrote.