Waterloo Global Science Initiative

Branding, environmental design and print publications for collective action facilitator


Every few years, Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) brings the brilliant minds and unheard voices from different disciplines, generations and geographies to address Canada and the world’s most pressing challenges. The theme for this particular conference centred on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and required a distinct look to emphasize the interconnections between the various goals and desired outcomes. It also needed to reflect an optimistic, generational outlook through an action-oriented, uniquely Canadian strategy.


The design process involved gaining a thorough understanding of the UN SDGs (which have an established visual identity system in place) and then developing a distinct identity system for WGSI’s Generation SDG. The aim was to give visual credence to the UN SDG identity, while speaking to Canada’s unique commitment to its own set of indicators. The aspects of discussion, goals and sustainability needed to be chief among these visual representations and provide a simple framework to balance the depth and complexity of the subject matter.


The identity system is held together by vibrant, overlaid shapes which are iconic representations of discussion (abstract speech balloons), goals (target-like symbol) and sustainability (mobius strip graphic). The 17 distinct colours are representative of the established UN SDGs as a visual bridge. Imagery of distinctly Canadian landscapes were curated from Creative Commons, along with candid photos of conference attendees and participants. The culminating, 80-page Blueprint report features various infographics, was translated in French, printed, perfect-bound, and made available online as accessible PDFs.

“The Generation SDG Blueprint continues to be a foundational document for WGSI’s work, particularly as we engage municipalities in local reporting on their SDG progress. We get many compliments and often see hand-scribed or dog-eared versions out there in the world.”

Hayley Rutherford
Research and Programming Manager
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