Oshawa invites residents to help build a brand identity for the city’s downtown


Published May 4, 2022 at 4:55 pm


The reputation of Oshawa’s downtown has never been rosy enough to lend itself to a proper branding campaign and the citizens of the Motor City have often been their own worst enemy in presenting a positive picture for a potential public relations initiative.

Not every citizen trashes the city, of course, and Oshawa is calling on residents and business owners to share their input on how well the story of downtown Oshawa – its people, places, and experiences – are reflected in communications.

Hailey Wright, Oshawa’s Director of Economic Development Services, said the City is developing a new visual brand identity as part of an initiative to better communicate the “qualities” of the downtown that best attract residents, businesses, students, and visitors.

The purpose of the feedback is to establish an understanding of the downtown Oshawa community and its communication needs, from the perspective of those who interact closely with the community, she said.

“Ultimately, the goal of the campaign is to produce a tool to aid in the promotion of the downtown as a business and destination area and effectively tell the story of the place, and more importantly, the experiences of its people, businesses and visitors. The efforts of this would complement all the other work occurring to continue supporting the growth and revitalization of the downtown area. I like to refer to it as another tool in the downtown toolkit.”

That ‘other work’ would include Plan20Thirty – a City-run action plan for the downtown to take it through the next decade – and the newly formed Downtown Oshawa Business Alliance (DOBA).

The Downtown Oshawa Visual Brand Identity project was supported by Council in the fall of 2021 as part of a report looking into the roles that had been assumed by the City’s Economic Development department from the now disbanded BIA. All the visual assets attributed to the downtown, such as banners, displayed the ‘Discover the Vibe’ brand developed by the BIA.

To effectively develop a new visual identity for the Downtown that would appear on banners, social media, physical assets and others as needed, Council asked the Economic Development to develop a visual brand identity.

“The current community engagement is being conducted to consult with the broader community to understand how they perceive Downtown Oshawa, its assets, experiences and place,” Wright explained. “In any instances when we discuss a place, both positive and negative perceptions will be shared and the intention is to work through this feedback to develop a visual brand identity that aligns with a large portion of the population, and that provides a tool to effectively communicate the positivity and uniqueness of downtown Oshawa, and promote it as a business and destination area, in visual assets moving forward.”

The branding campaign will be complemented by work already underway (Plan20Thirty and the DOBA, as well as initiatives undertaken by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce), added Wright, who has worked extensively on Plan20Thirty and also spent time with the latter two groups.

“I have had the privilege to discover so much about people’s connections, passion and experiences in downtown Oshawa,” she said. “I feel strongly that the work being done to support business and place revitalization through Plan 20Thirty and exercises like the Visual Brand Identity will complement the ongoing efforts of other action plans and task force work focused in the downtown area.”

Wright said with two weeks still remaining on the public feedback period she has not reviewed any of the feedback on the project. That will happen “at the end of the period” and the visual identity concepts will be reported to the Development Services Committee on June 6 and to Council on June 20.

She was not able to offer any insight as to early designs or slogans for the same reason. “We are very much still in the information gathering phase to ensure that what is introduced to Committee and Council for review is community informed.”

Oshawa residents are invited to complete the feedback form online on Connect Oshawa or on paper at Service Oshawa (50 Centre St. S.) by Wednesday, May 18.

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