Rebranding The LCBO

The LCBO has a bit of an image problem.While most of the recent disdain towards the handling of alcohol sales in Ontario has been directed at The Beer Store, the LCBO hasn’t escaped completely unscathed.

The old LCBO logo (left) vs. the new LCBO logo (right).

The old LCBO logo (left) vs. the new LCBO logo (right).


For the uninitiated, here’s the deal: for the most part, alcohol sales in Ontario are strictly regulated by the government and you can, for the most part, only get booze from two different places: The Beer Store (a foreign-owned corporation) and The LCBO (The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, a crown corporation). A sizable percentage of Ontarians are upset up about this, for a number of reasons (monopolies granted to foreign corporations, convenience, availability, etc), and so both The Beer Store and The LCBO have been doing their best to polish up their image. The Beer Store has had its own strategy, and the LCBO has now gone ahead with a $500,000 rebrand.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; A lot of people are angry that a crown corporation just wasted $500,000 on a logo. The thing is, for a corporation the size of The LCBO, and for a job as big as designing a new logo, tagline, and rebranding all their products, stores, and website, not to mention some video ads, $500,000 isn’t a bad price. Now, I’m sure you have a neighbour whose kid could have done the job for $50, but in reality, a lot of work goes into all of this, and it can be hard to imagine from the outside how much time and effort it can take to do all of this, and just how many people are involved.

Frankly, it’s the LCBO’s job to sell alcohol. The more they sell, the more tax money we, as Ontarians, collect. Which is good. So if the powers that be at The LCBO think a rebrand is necessary and that the costs of it will be recouped, then that’s what they should do. Henry Ford once said that “a man who’s stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time,” and there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

Now, is the rebrand actually any good? That’s another question.

First up: What were the problems with the old brand?

According to The LCBO, research showed that the lustre of its “Discover the World” tagline had worn off. It was no longer drawing customers into the stores or to the website. Additionally, customers associated the logo primarily with wine. Finally, while the brand was deemed “efficient”, it was felt that a more casual or social attitude was needed.

Does the new brand fix the issues?

The new logo is a lot cleaner. Gone is the imagery, leaving us with a simple wordmark, with a bit of a flourish in the B. While it no longer screams ‘wine’, it does look like lettering you would find on a wine bottle. The new emphasis on social behaviour is readily apparent in the tagline presentation and videos, and really reinvigorates the brand.

Are any new problems introduced?

They’ve changed colour schemes, dropping the green entirely and going with what appears to be black or very dark blue. Switching colours, logos, and taglines all at once might be problematic for a lot of companies, but the LCBO has no real competition to speak of, so they’ll likely be ok on that front. The bigger issue though, is the public perception of their spending. Though it appears reasonable to those in the industry, if the general public turns against them, there’s always the possibility (however remote) that the government will open up the market for more competition.

Is it an overall improvement?

Yes. It’s cleaner, simpler, and the tagline is a lot more fun. The emphasis on social drinking breathes new life into the brand.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


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