Slap on a Maple Leaf and Other Design Ideas: Lessons From Canada’s Best Logos

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

An effective logo imprints or “brands” itself into your customer’s consciousness. Ideally, logos should reflect your brand in a simple but compelling way. To figure out how to balance simplicity, intrigue, and branding, you may want to look at some of the nation’s most successful logos as you attempt to create your simple logo design.

Mountain Equipment Co-op

As part of a transition from a member’s only club to a public store, Mountain Equipment Co-op underwent a five-year rebranding process. During that time, the company simplified its logo so it only included the company’s initials MEC. The white letters on a green background are peaceful, yet strong and confident, just the feelings you want to evoke among camping and outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, when MEC focused on mountain climbing, its logo had a mountain in the background, but as the company expanded into other markets, it dropped the mountain.


WestJet’s logo uses complementary colors from the same part of the colour wheel, but the colours also tell a story. Even without reading the company’s explanation, consumers get a sense of blue skies and green mountains when they see the logo. As the company prepared to jump into foreign markets, it also added part of the iconic maple leaf to its logo. This simple logo design shift made customers five times more likely to think of Canada when they saw the WestJet logo, and the maple leaf doubled consumers’ feelings of Canadian pride while looking at the logo. The success of the logo relates to simplicity, complementary colours, and storytelling, but small business owners should also take note of the importance of market research in logo development.

Canadian Tire

With its innovative digital and social media marketing campaigns, Canadian Tire isn’t afraid to dive into or even invent new marketing tactics, but with its logo, the company sticks with a tried and true premise. The super simple logo features a simple red triangle with a small green maple leaf on top of it. Rather than using complementary colours, the logo uses contrasting colours; red and green are opposites on the colour wheel. The simplicity of the logo makes it easy for customers to remember, but it also makes the logo easy to replicate and fit on anything. When designing your logo, try to keep functionality and ease of replication in mind.

Tim Horton’s

Through the years, Tim Horton’s logo has become increasingly more simplistic. Initially, the logo had a yellow-and-black striped background, some donuts, the word “donut,” and the company’s name. Through the years, the company dropped all of those elements except the red cursive “Tim Horton’s.” Beyond simplicity, this transition emphasizes the importance of continuity. Although the company dropped elements, it always retained the classic red name in the font customers knew and loved. Additionally, the logo is flexible, and the company often adds or subtracts elements based on whether the logo is on a storefront, coffee cup, or print advertisement. Whether you hire a designer or use a logo creator, you may want to consider mimicking the above companies. Their logos rely on contrasting or complementary colours, retain consistency even through change, and can easily be printed on anything from T-shirts to storefronts.

References & Resources

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