Design Guidelines for the B.C. Visual Identity Program
The topics below provide practical details of the visual identity program.
The visual identity program makes government authorship and actions recognizable to the public. It is thus critical that the identity be clear and consistent.
The BC Mark (or logo) is central to the visual identity program. It is comprised of three elements:
- the symbol
- the British Columbia wordmark
- the keyline
The symbol is the sun rising behind a mountain range with the Pacific Ocean in the foreground.
The sun should always be the lightest part of the mark. This symbol provides continuity with the province’s heraldic crest. The mountain graphic represents strength and reliability.
Blue establishes a feeling of authority and trust. The warm rays of the sun balance the symbol and represent British Columbia’s bright future.
The British Columbia wordmark is typeset with a customized version of Garamond. It conveys heritage and dependability.
The rounded serifs and soft forms of the typeface make it friendly and approachable.
The keyline underlines the wordmark to show "British Columbia" is important. Do not remove the keyline from the BC Mark.
Integrity of the BC Mark
The three elements of the BC Mark must always appear as an indivisible unit.
It isn't acceptable to alter the BC Mark. Doing so reduces the integrity of the visual identity and weakens the face of government.
The elements' sizes or positions should not change from the official digital artwork.
Always use the digital artwork exactly as provided. Re-size the artwork as a whole, always preserving the horizontal and vertical proportions.
All uses of the visual identity (the BC Mark) should maintain its integrity and legibility. The visual identity program makes government authorship and actions recognizable to the public. It is thus critical that the identity be clear and consistent.
The vertical orientation of the BC Mark is the primary and preferred configuration. Use this orientation whenever possible. It is the primary mark of government authorship.
Use the horizontal orientation only when the area available is too small for the vertical orientation. This arrangement of the elements minimizes height.
Protective area surrounds the BC Mark. This ensures the mark is uncrowded and highly visible.
Vertical Protective Area
The protective area is equal to the distance between the top of “British” and the baseline of “Columbia”.
Horizontal Protective Area
The protective area is equal to the distance between the baseline of "British" and the baseline of "Columbia".
The sun in the symbol should always be the lightest part of the mark. The BC Mark should appear in its two-colour version whenever possible. When the background is light, use the positive, two-colour version of the BC Mark.
When the background field is dark, designers must use the reverse version. Ensure significant contrast between the corporate blue and the background. Never use a “busy” photo or high-contrast pattern behind the BC Mark.
It is important that the BC Mark be reproduced at a size large enough to be legible so that the province's programs, services and contributions can be recognized by the public.
Vertical orientation: In print, the BC Mark should be greater than 0.5” in height. On the Web, the mark's total height should be greater than 64 pixels.
Horizontal orientation: In print, the BC Mark's symbol should be greater than 0.3” in height. On the Web, the mark's total height should be greater than 45 pixels.
Protect the integrity of the BC Mark by following these reproduction guidelines:
- The sun is the brightest area of the symbol. Don't reproduce the mark so the sun is the darkest area.
- The mark should not appear within frames or borders.
- Don't tilt or skew the mark.
- Don't substitute, scale or alter the "British Columbia" typeface.
- Never use the BC Mark or its component elements as a part of other visual identities or graphics.
- Similarly, don't incorporate other visual elements into the mark.
- Don’t use the mark's type or symbol alone in communications.
- Never stretch or condense the BC Mark to make it "fit." The horizontal and vertical dimensions should always change equally and proportionately.
There are two different ways to reproduce digital artwork: in print or on-screen. Print and screens use different technologies to produce colour. Here is a description of these two different technologies.
CMYK Colour Space
Print reproduction relies on ink applied to paper. Four ink colours - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (called CMYK) - are printed in small dots. These dots visually “mix” on paper to create the illusion of all the colours of the rainbow.
Digital artwork reproduced in print needs to be in CMYK or black colour space. Black colour space includes all shades of grey.
RGB Colour Space
On-screen reproduction relies on light. There are three primary colours of light - Red, Green and Blue (called RGB). These three colours of light visually “mix” on-screen to create every colour of the rainbow.
Digital artwork reproduced on-screen needs to be in RGB colour space.
There are two basic digital artwork formats: vector and raster. To identify them, you need to see a file's extension. If file extensions are hidden on your Windows computer, show them by checking the "File name extensions" box under the "View" tab in Explorer.
Vector Artwork Files
Vector digital artwork uses geometric shapes to create images. Vector artwork is very versatile because it can be enlarged or reduced to any size and still be sharp and crisp. Vectors are great for logos like the BC Mark.
Files with EPS, AI, WMF and SVG extensions are almost always vector artwork. PDF files can contain both vector and raster artwork.
Raster Artwork Files
Raster digital artwork is a grid of tiny square, coloured picture elements (pixels). Packing pixels together in a raster file creates the illusion of an image. Rasters are great for photos. But increasing raster artwork too much in size makes the pixels very obvious.
Files with JPG, TIF, PNG and GIF extensions are always raster artwork. PDF files can contain both vector and raster artwork.
The province's visual identity program has two colours in its palette (yellow and blue) and employs three typefaces (Adobe Garamond, Adobe Myriad and BC Sans).
Below are breakdowns for the palette's two colours.
Always ensure proper contrast between the background and the colours in the BC Mark. Avoid conflicting colour tonal values and hues. Use the blue at 100 per cent of its value in the symbol if the value of the background is between 50 and 60 per cent of black. Reduce the value of the blue to 70 per cent when the tonal value of the background exceeds 80 per cent of black. Use the positive version of the BC Mark if the value of the background is less than 15 per cent of black.The BC Mark should appear in its two-colour version whenever possible. If printing specifications or budget restrictions don’t permit the use of PMS colours, use the CMYK versions. For on-screen use, choose the RGB versions. Reproduce the BC Mark in one dark value of a deep hue (or in white or a light value of a light hue) only if a design calls for this.
These three typefaces are recognizable elements of the province’s visual identity. They should be used in all visual communications. Align text on the left with a ragged right edge whenever possible.
Adobe Garamond Pro is a serif typeface in three weights plus italics and is suitable for headlines and body text. Don't use other versions of Garamond as they will have unexpected features.
Adobe Myriad Pro is a sans-serif typeface in five styles, five weights plus italics. It is suitable for headlines and body text, and is the primary typeface for use in documents, advertising and online.
Buy Adobe Garamond Pro and Adobe Myriad Pro online from Adobe. These typefaces are available from other reputable font vendors as well.
BC Sans is a new Open Source typeface free to download. It was developed to create improved readability and delivery of our digital services, and also contain support for multiple languages including Indigenous languages in B.C.
The Queen's Printer produces government signs using pre-qualified fabricators throughout the province. Ministries shouldn't directly contract sign fabricators to produce government signs. The Provincial Sign Program or GCPE's Graphic Communications can assist ministries to design signs.
Ministries planning signs should first contact their ministry’s GCPE communications office. It is important to ensure the integrity of the government’s visual identity on signs. Communications using signs should be coordinated throughout government by GCPE or the Provincial Sign Program.
Door and Office Entrance Signs
Contact the Queen's Printer or GCPE's Graphic Communications team for office sign solutions.
Interior Wayfinding Signs
Contact the Queen's Printer for interior wayfinding sign solutions.
Capital Investment Signs
- Infrastructure Investment Signs - Specifications (PDF, 257 KB)
- Infrastructure Investment Signs - InDesign Templates (ZIP, 9 MB)
- Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund Signs (PDF, 393 KB)
Commemorative Plaques and Markers
Standard Sign Blank Dimensions
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's Provincial Sign Program maintains a catalogue of dimensions for standard aluminum signs.
The government's Comptroller General regards all promotional items as informational communications. Ministries should budget these items under STOB 67.
GCPE’s Advertising and Marketing Services include "promotions". A promotion is anything that advertises the Government of British Columbia. It can be a publication, brochure, poster, video, pen, lapel pin, button, coffee mug, sign, etc.
Ministries that need promotional items must first contact their ministry's GCPE communications director.
The Protocol and Recognition Products branch has many qualified and competitive suppliers available. They are available to produce any promotional items.
The BC Mark is the only mark approved for use on the front of government public service stationery. There is no flexibility in the design, content or print specifications for stationery. This policy ensures recipients immediately recognize the authority of government employees.
Only government employees can use government-issued business cards and stationery.
Purpose of Government Stationery
The government is the source of provincial policies, laws, programs and services. Stationery shows recipients that the sender is an agent of the Government of British Columbia. Accurate reproduction of the appropriate marks signifies government authorship and responsibility.
Order pre-printed letterhead and business cards from Queen's Printer only. Use professionally printed stationery for all official correspondence. Before ordering stationery, verify the correct mailing address with BC Mail Plus. Queen’s Printer has current electronic design templates for all stationery.
Because desktop printers can’t print the BC Mark accurately or professionally, avoid using these printers for stationery items.
Government stationery includes two suites. The Public Service stationery suite uses the BC Mark. The Executive stationery suite incorporates the B.C. Coat of Arms.
Only members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government and their immediate staff can use Executive stationery.
All government vehicles should include the BC Mark on both sides and the rear of the vehicle.
This clearly shows the vehicle is in service to the public. It also reinforces the visual identity in a mobile and visible way. Refer to the Procurement Services Branch's Vehicle Fleet Management and the GCPE Graphic Communications guidelines (PDF, 2.6 MB) to plan a fleet vehicle visual identity program.