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For almost forty years, members of the LGBTQ community have gathered in Barbara Hall Park (formerly Cawthra Square Park) to honour, remember and celebrate those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. 2014 marked the 30th Anniversary of the vigil and the organization expected record crowds as it was also the same year Toronto hosted WorldPride. In mid 2013 we approached the committee with a proposal to donate $5,000 in design services to use however they needed. In early 2014 I met with the committee and we decided that it was the ideal time to re-brand the entire event.

A modern sans serif typeface was selected to create a more contemporary look and increase legibility at small sizes and at a distance. We all agreed that we should honour the existing colour palette as it perfectly reflects the sentiment of the event: An intense red to reflect the HIV/AIDS ribbon, flat black to honour those who have passed, and brilliant white to celebrate hope for the future. The fourteen stone monuments stand tall over the AIDS Candlelight Vigil each year and it was essential to include a representation of them in the new visual identity. Their unique shape and the way they embrace the memorial gardens in an arch makes them an inviting path to walk down remembering loved ones. The illustration of the candle flame to intentionally mimics a drop of blood was intended as a solemn reminder that no matter your gender, race, creed, or sexual orientation, we are all the same inside and this disease does not discriminate.

The AIDS Candlelight Vigil program is one of the most important pieces as it outlines the event info, holds the ceremonial candle, and lists those being memorialized that year. We restructured the program so that all the event info (i.e. the main title page, run of show, sponsors and special thanks) was on the external panels, leaving the inside dedicated to honouring those being memorialized that evening. The red inside left and right panels were left conspicuously free of copy to draw focus to the candle and names on the centre panel. They were designed as to fold down creating a “lapel” to which we would pin the red ribbon that accompanies the program so that it would not fall off or prick guests. This placement also gently references where the ribbon should be pinned to one’s person. The biggest challenge was that there needed to be a place for the candle. In the past the thin candles were merely placed in the fold, but that left them susceptible to falling out or breaking. We found that the best solution was actually the most simple. First we selected medium weight card stock and then by making two small straight die cuts on the centre panel we were able to create a “strap” that could easily be pushed inward in order to slide the candle down the centre. Not only did this secure the candle in place, but the card stock folded around the candle to protect it from breaking. The strategic placement of the candle over the list of names held in place by a strap labeled, “Honour, Remember, Celebrate” brings this meaningful tribute full circle.

The volunteer shirts were also given an upgrade this year to a black and red raglan style shirt, which worked well for guests to easily identify official event staff & volunteers, while not being so brightly coloured as to distract from the ceremony as they moved about the event.

Since the ceremony is held back from the main street the committee wanted to create large scale signage to place on the edge of the park to draw people into the event. The tall angled shape represents the AIDS Memorial pillars, but in combination with the white flame also represented a burning candle lighting up the dark night. Through modifying the new logo to fit the long orientation of the banner and placing the flame centred above the logo, we pay homage to the white candles used in the ceremony. The event transit posters carried forward the angled tribute to the memorial pillar and high contrast layout of all other marketing materials.

Date & Time

June 24, 2014