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Written by: Nicole White

The CanPlant logo


We’re proud to share with you the thoughts, ideas, and process that went into choosing CanPlant as the new website name for the native plant database, and the some of the design considerations that went into the logo. In this post, we’ll discuss them both in more detail.


After Evergreen selected D&A to be the new custodians of the native plant database, one of the first tasks our team undertook was to come up with a new name. Not unlike picking a name for a child, this was something we took very seriously! Alas, the name is something that we would have to live with for a while.


Everyone at Dougan & Associates was asked to participate in brainstorming session to pitch their ideas. A few rounds of voting narrowed these down to a shortlist. We knew we wanted something concise, positive, and meaningful.


Once everyone had a chance to submit, we noticed a recurring trend of name ideas integrating the words ‘Canada’ and ‘plant’, with early suggestions including names like ‘iCanPlant’ and ‘Canada Plants’. In the end, D&A Ecologist Zack Harris’ submission of ‘CanPlant’ garnered the most votes. We like its simplicity and the double entendre of ‘Can’ –‘Canada’, and ‘YES, you CAN PLANT!’).


The CanPlant logo was collaboratively designed by D&A staff. In the brainstorming phase of this process, Canada as a whole, native flora, and ecology were identified as especially relevant symbolic themes. We also wanted to include some component in the design that acknowledged Evergreen, the founder of the database.


With these themes in mind (and with our collective propensity for being plant nerds), it was destined that the new logo feature plant imagery. We considered several different species, leaning toward widely-distributed Canadian flora. Initial ideas included Populus tremuloides (Trembling Aspen), Linnaea borealis (Twinflower), Mitella diphylla (Mitrewort), Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry), Picea glauca (White Spruce), and native ferns such as Polypodium virginianum (Rock Polypody).


One major challenge was to develop a universally applicable design. To simultaneously tackle this challenge and produce something beautiful, D&A’s Landscape Designer Heather Schibli took suggestions from the group, often translating written descriptions into visual language, prepared concepts, and iterating the results based on feedback from the D&A team.


Concepts were developed to represent a few core ideas – succession, urban to nature, a Canadian cross-section, and various types of leaves and other plant parts.


Ultimately, we landed on a text-based design that is simple and incorporates a single White Spruce silhouette for the A in PLANT. We felt that the simplicity of the design will allow it to be instantly recognizable as we move forward with our initiative to connect people to plants. And, the White Spruce is a great way to reflect the scope of the initiative (White Spruce is found in all of Canada’s provinces and territories) and pay tribute Evergreen (White Spruce is an Evergreen!).


Picea's glauca's countrywide distribution


Photo source: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service.


Through the process of designing the logo, Heather created many other versions that we really loved. Down the road, we expect some of them may be used for other branding initiatives. One of our favourites incorporated the text logo with a backdrop that represents the phenomenon of ecological succession, both as it may apply to place and to time. We felt that the text and single White Spruce juxtaposed to the succession-inspired backdrop emphasizes that plants are dynamics, and the simple act of planting a few native species, over time can result in rich, complex, ecosystems.


CanPlant's alternate 'Succession' logo


We feel that both the name and logo will successfully represent the newly-relaunched plant database’s function and intended audience – offering gardeners, landscape architects, designers, ecologists, and anyone else across the country easily-accessible and relevant information they can use to connect with plants.

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CanPlant Blog
August 11, 2022
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