Subplot Design Inc.

Redgees Legacy Award Winner

Boutique – BC/Yukon

Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium Brand Identity, 2006

Designers: Roy White, Matthew Clark, Steph Gibson

Scope of Works: Logomark, Identity System, 50th Anniversary Logomark, Street Banners, Main Entrance Signage, Brochure System, Stationery, Merchandise, Uniforms, Standards Manual

Project Description:
With its 50th anniversary in view, the Vancouver Aquarium paused to consider its logo, which for
more than 35 years featured a killer whale – a distinctive symbol for the Aquarium as one of the
first institutions to have ever displayed them. While the Aquarium remains at the forefront of wild
killer whale research and conservation today, they felt the killer whale as a symbol no longer represented the experience of visiting the Aquarium, nor of the broad scope of the Aquarium’s programs.The Vancouver Aquarium’s fundamental purpose as an organization is aquatic conservation. They envision a future in which people and aquatic ecosystems live in balance, contributing to the health and well-being of each other.

The Vancouver Aquarium wanted their new logo to be distinctive, contemporary, and appropriate to the spirit of their organization which offers an unforgettable aquatic experience for visitors, while being a leader in education, conservation and marine science. They also wanted the logo to symbolize their commitment to all marine life (not just one or two species), and reflect their values of balance, sustainability, and conservation. There was also a need for an overall visual identity system – a distinctive and appropriate look that could be applied in almost every area of Aquarium operations.

Inspired by the shape and spirit of earlier logos, the new icon celebrates the Aquarium’s history and commitment to the conservation of aquatic life in its many forms. The main logomark image is that of a dynamic, leaping fish, and is made up of three smaller shapes, representing aquatic fauna (seastar), flora (kelp) and the world of water (wave). The identity system grows out of this sense of discovery, wonder and the beauty of the aquatic environment. From new brochures, to business cards, a refreshed website to new stationery, the Aquarium’s new identity translates to all branded items and communications. Vivid photography of key flora and fauna provide beautiful backdrops to the brochures, main entrance signage, and additional collateral to roll-out across the Vancouver Aquarium experience.


Level Ground Trading

Level Ground Brand Identity + Packaging, 2010

Designers: Matthew Clark, Roy White
Writer: Derek Perkins, Matthew Clark
Illustrator: Matthew Clark
Photographer: Farmers: Hugo Ciro,

Scope of Works: Audits, Logomark, Packaging System, Identity System, Stationery, Pointof-sale, Banners, Displays, Coffee Cups, Wearables, Vehicles, Signage, Print Collateral, Brand Standards.

Project Description:
Founded in 1997, Level Ground Trading’s mission is to trade fairly and directly with small-scale producers in developing countries, and to market their products in North America, offering their customers ethical choices. The company steadily grew a local, loyal following for their range of coffees, as well as recent introductions of raw cane sugar and dried fruit. However, as the company and brand grew, Level Ground began to compete with more sophisticated brands farther afield, and were failing to connect in a meaningful way with a broader consumer audience.

Consumer focus groups confirmed that Level Ground’s positioning and mission was right: to celebrate the actual farmers and producers with whom Level Ground maintains direct, personal and business relationships. “Direct Fair Trade” was the key. However, an overly “charitable” sensibility to their imagery and design, not to mention negative consumer feedback on their packaging’s glossy, metallic foil bags, demanded a change. This, combined with their tendency to forget about the superior quality of their coffees themselves, meant a refinement of the core communication. Focus groups also gave “permission” for the logo to change. The current logo did not connect with consumers, and there was little to no recall on the logo itself, even from loyalists.

The new logomark declares boldly the superiority of “Direct Fair Trade”: two hands (and dialogue bubbles) shake, forming an “equal” sign between them. This brand identity is founded on equality, fairness and relationships, and brings a human touch right into the logomark itself. The packaging platform takes the thought further: the producer is the real hero. Celebrated with intimate, inviting photography “in situ”, the farmers grace authentic kraft bags, with a label that declares Level Ground’s expertise and deep knowledge of the origins and taste profiles of each of their coffees. From the most prevalent 300g bags, to 2lb club-store bags, 5lb coffee store “ecocubes”, and 6 and 12-pack shipper displays, the brand comes alive consistently but with rich variation to tell the whole story of Level Ground.

The Identity Platform completes the circle: engaging copy like “We shake the hands that pick the coffee”, “Coffee lover. Meet coffee grower”, and “Good. From crop to cup” expresses the duality of “direct fair trade” and “superior coffee”, and mixes images of the producers themselves with product shots and prominent logos to drive this new brand’s awareness and recall. Innovative posters, retail displays, banners, flags, vehicles, t-shirts, coffee cups, event booths and a minibrochure all help Level Ground’s below-the-line marketing efforts and their ability to get the word out in the community, at events and in retail. The Standards Manual helps keep new materials onbrand and efficiently produced.


Petcurean Pet Nutrition

Petcurean Brand Identity + Packaging, 2011

Designers: Matthew Clark, Roy White, Ross Chandler, Liz Wurzinger, Steph Gibson

Scope of Works: Brand & Competitor Audits, Brand Strategy, Logomark, Packaging System (2 lines: NOW! FRESH & GO!), Brand Identity Platform, Print Collateral, Sales Materials, Posters & Point-of-Sale, Wearables, Stationery, Templates, Tradeshow Booth, Website, Brand Standards Manual.

Petcurean was founded in 1999 as a small start-up company, based on a unique concept that utilizes concentrated forms of meat and human grade ingredients to formulate a pet food that replicates what families enjoy at home every day. With excellent sales, a passionate mission and superior products, the brand identity itself was falling short on communicating this promise, and the product packaging was dated and had little to no differentiation between their two very different product lines.

Petcurean, not only is an “epicurean” approach to health, nutrition, product innovation and superior ingredients part of the Petcurean DNA, it proved to also be a unique place in the market for the brand. The new brand logomark celebrates the notion of taste and nutrition through a witty use of a pet’s tongue. Other identity elements celebrate real pets from Petcurean’s employees, with typographic call-outs that reflect back to the company’s values, from “epicurean” and “health”, to “deep purrs” and “wagging tails”. Modern typography, bold imagery and strong colours unite the identity, and witty writing brings out even more of the heart and soul of the brand.

When it came to examining the almost 100 SKUs of packaging in Petcurean’s most popular lines, NOW FRESH and GO!, it was critical to expand beyond the new corporate identity to connect the unique propositions and benefits of the products themselves with the consumers who purchase them.

GO! is a nutrient-rich and energy-packed food. The package itself brings an “active lifestyle” sensibility to the pet specialty store shelf with metallic foil, strong formula identification, iconography and specific callouts for the recipes’ ingredients and benefits.

NOW FRESH is so fresh, it’s like eating off the kitchen table (down girl!). NOW FRESH is packed full of 100% fresh turkey, salmon and duck, 100% fresh Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, and wholesome berries, fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the Brand Identity and NOW FRESH and GO! Packaging, Subplot has created all the Sales Collateral, Point-of-Sale, Corporate Print Materials, Consumer Hand-outs, Tradeshow Booth, Wearables and a completely new Website. Special attention was paid to a co-op advertising platform that will allow Petcurean to successfully cobrand with various pet specialty retailers, as well as a system that allows both of Petcurean’s new packaging designs for NOW FRESH and GO! to be presented within a “Petcurean branded” framework when appropriate.


Canada Post

Canada Post Stamps, 2011

Designers: Matthew Clark, Roy White, Ross Chandler, Liz Wurzinger, Max Young

Scope of Works: Concept + Design: Stamp, Stamp Pane, Booklet, Official First Day Cover, Cancellation Stamp

Project Description:
Canada Post cherry pick the best designers around Canada to create their commemorative sets each year. Subplot have been lucky enough to work each year on at least one set of stamps. With any stamp project the immense challenge is designing within the small constraints of a stamps size. Stamps must appeal to the general public and the large number of collectors. As well as creating the stamp, the challenge is to convey the concept through other products, such as the first day cover, pane and even the cancel mark for the stamp

International Year of the Forest: This was neither a “tree species” stamp nor an “animals of the forest” stamp. The ecosystem was divided into 4 layers: Emergent, Canopy, Floor, and Understory. Subplot chose to create a vertical panorama panning down from the sky, through the canopy and down onto the forest floor showing all these vertical layers, creating two distinct images once the stamps are separated: one shows a dominant tree, and the other shows the floor of the forest. The layers of the forest are depicted with animal silhouettes to help tell the story of animal life in the forest. A treat, nocturnal animals are printed in ink that only visible under black light.

Choose Adoption Stamps promoting the importance of adopting animals from shelters across Canada. The design not only calls attention to the plight of homeless pets – but also educates the public about shelter animals and encouraged their adoption. The set of stamps was designed to invite interaction. Detaching the stamps from the sheet, the collector is releasing the pet from the kennel, and sending it en route to a new home.

Erebus – Domestic: Lost in the icy arctic 170 years ago, the Erebus ship and route appears to rise out of the snow and ice itself. A white background and high relief embossing were used so that the stamps appear to have been carved from ice. The first stamp shows Erebus. The second features a map of the Arctic region that Franklin explored and uses Inuktut to mark places – reflecting the Inuit oral history that guided many searches, including the 2014 discovery.

Erebus – International: The international combines an illustration of Erebus’s deck plan with a modern sonar image from the wreck. A special phosphorescent ink on the stamp enhances the sonar image, while a metallic ink lends a sheen to the bell.

Continuing to work with Canada Post has increased Subplots profile in the design community and led to a feature in a design magazine that ran an issue on the process of stamp design around the world. Because of our approach to pushing the boundaries in stamp design our role with Canada Post has grown to the extent that we currently have 5 different stamp projects in progress.


Old Yale Brewing

Old Yale Brewing Brand identity + Packaging, 2014

Designers: Matthew Clark, Roy White, Liz Wurzinger
Illustrator: Dan Schlitzkus, Eelis Kyttanen, Sunny Shah

Scope of Works: Strategy, Brand Identity + Logomark, Naming, Packaging (core line + seasonal line), Brand Standards (to guide Sales Collateral, Point-of-Sale, Website, Wearables, Glassware and Signage)

Project Description:
Old Yale Brewing is named after the historic wagon road that ran from New Westminster through Chilliwack to Yale, BC, serving the Gold Rush in the late 1800’s, and later becoming one of the first incorporated roads in BC. The new Logomark celebrates the brewery’s trailblazing spirit (and the great outdoors) with a stylized trailhead signpost.

Old Yale’s reinvigorated core line, celebrates the outdoors with tongue-in-cheek“outdoor activity badges” and backgrounds borrowed from mother nature. The line-up includes four products in bomber bottles: Knotty Blonde, West Coast IPA, Off Trail Pale Ale and Moon Dance Mango Wheat, plus Knotty Blonde and Off Trail available in 6-packs as well. Based on the idea of camp-activity-badges Subplot worked with Seattle based Illustrator Dan Schlitzkus to capture the essence of each flavour in a series of whimsical illustrations. These illustrations were then created into stitched badges were then photographed to ensure the labels’ three dimensional and authentic look and feel. Nature inspired backgrounds not only help put the badges into context but help highlight the brewery’s close connection to nature once again while differentiating each flavour clearly from each other.

The “Tall Tales Series” is adding to the mystery of the great outdoors by celebrating the mythical beasts that might find their way into spooky campfire tales. It includes Sasquatch Stout, Screaming Banshee Irish Cream Stout and Vanishing Monk Belgian Wit Beer. Dark and haunting illustrations capture the essence of each “tall tale”, with stories about the mythical characters on each label. All three are available in bomber bottles, with Sasquatch Stout also available in a 4-pack of 473mL cans.

Beyond helpful tasting notes, beer colour indicator, and hops and malt scales, each label has a hidden gem: fill-lines that indicate the musical notes for various songs to give outdoor-lovers a hand when it is sing-along-time around the campfire. The first of many campfire songs can be viewed at

Subplot’s scope of work included Strategy, Brand Identity & Logomark, Naming, Packaging, and a set of Brand Standards to guide internal efforts for Sales Collateral, Point-of-Sale, Website, Wearables, Glassware and Signage.Old Yale has seen rapid growth in the first year since the launch of the new packaging and identity.

Overall sales have increased by 79.5% with a 71% increase in packaged goods (bottles & cans) sales in the BC market. In tap accounts have also increased by 88%. The Sasquatch Stout has been voted beer of the year in Canada and has received wide acclaim. The brewery has expanded its output to meet demand by adding 4 new brewing tanks and is currently moving to a larger location to meet demand.

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