Design Policy for the B.C. Visual Identity Program

Achieving communications excellence is a key priority for the Government of British Columbia.

The policy in this guide commits to communications excellence. The government's visual identity (the BC Mark) is the sole mark of government authorship. Any materials published by the government should include the BC Mark.

Policy

The policy described here demands the government visual identity program be:

  • Effective: represent government ministries and partners in a professional and consistent manner;

  • Accountable: ensure the source of information is clear and understood;

  • Efficient: maintain effective use of taxpayer dollars across all government activities.

Processes

The government’s visual identity guidelines also define the processes to:

  • Third Party Use: use the visual identity in non-government communications;
  • Create a New Mark: employees apply for a new mark to identify an endorsed government program or service;

  • Retain an Existing Mark: use an existing mark to identify a current government program or a B.C. partnership.

Related Links

This policy describes the responsibility and role of government employees. Parties using the government’s visual identity are responsible to reproduce it correctly. Proper use of the visual identity reinforces the value of government’s programs and services.


Third Party Use of the BC Mark

The BC Mark is protected by Crown Copyright. Before using any provincial government images, graphics or logos, anyone who isn’t a provincial government employee must complete an "Application for Third Party Use" form and get it approved.

This application form collects details of use: who, on what and when. Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) reviews the form to determine proper use of the government's visual identity. Government expects third parties to use the BC Mark to show funding or promotional support. The application form also records an authentic relationship with the applicant.

Before publication, third parties must supply a sample of their visual communication material that uses the BC Mark. GCPE reviews this to ensure the material is appropriate and matches the application. GCPE expects quality reproduction and compliance with guidelines. Both GCPE's ministry communications director and the Graphic Communications director approve this material.

The BC Mark is also protected by the federal Trade-marks Act. Using the mark without approval may be subject to legal action.

Step 1 – Application for Usage

To use the government's visual identity, third parties must submit an "Application for Third Party Use" form with their proposed visual communications material. You can find the form on the Download Government Marks page. The ministry related to the third party’s business activities or third-party partner relationship reviews the third party's request.

Step 2 – Ministry Approval

The ministry responsible forwards the application to their ministry's GCPE communications director for review. The communications director approves or denies the third party's use of the BC Mark. If approved, the communications director forwards the application with the third party's material for review and final approval by GCPE's Graphic Communications director via email.

Step 3 – GCPE Communications Support Service Approval

GCPE's Graphic Communications director approves the reproduction of the BC Mark on the third party's material or requests changes. A response is usually within 48 hours of receipt.


Applying for a New Government Mark

GCPE oversees the creation of new, specific government marks per Core Policy.

Marks and logos can promote a particular government program, service or business unit. However, ministry staff that wish to develop a new mark or logo must first submit an Application for New Mark Development form (PDF, 575 KB). Their ministry's GCPE communications director should endorse this application.

The new mark assessment process applies defined criteria consistently across all government. Final decisions are the responsibility of GCPE Marketing and Communications Support Services. GCPE develops and designs new marks based on the government's visual identity guidelines.

GCPE Graphic Communications keeps a record of permitted government marks. Some marks could need protection under the federal Trade-marks Act. Ministries can procure protection on the advice of GCPE and the government's Legal Services Branch. The criteria listed above apply to marks that existed before this visual identity guide. Decisions about their retention will take into consideration their previous use.

New Marks Examples

Decision criteria include the following:

  • Nature of the program or service: Is this a significant goal of government? What is the priority, goal, size, scope and longevity of the program or service represented by the new mark? Are a budget and resources available to use the new mark?
  • Communications needs: How will communications objectives be better served by a distinct or unique mark? What are the promotion, marketing and advertising needs? Have the communications products and their lifespan been identified? Who is the audience(s) and what size is it?
  • Official partnership: Is there an official partnership agreement (that is, the Government of B.C. is not the sole author)? Could a simple co-branding arrangement work for a short-term partner endorsement?
  • Need for autonomy: Does the program or service operate at arms-length from the government? Will it best achieve its goals by exhibiting independence from government? Examples of this autonomy include an appointed commission or overseeing an organizational unit.