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Calgary Blue Sky City Branding

Calgary’s $4.8M “Blue Sky City” Rebrand: Blue Sky or BS Thinking?

Maybe the logo is irrelevant, but a lot of locals are thinking it looks like a whole lotta…

There aren’t many cities with taglines that really stand out, and when they do… it’s often for all the wrong reasons.

“There’s a number of things to do in Okotoks.” was the last slogan from an Albertan city to grab any real attention in the past decade—mainly because people found it hilariously bad.

But hey, any publicity is good publicity, right? Despite the lame slogan, Okotoks saw a spike in tourism that summer.

Now, Calgary has jumped on that same (lame) marketing train.

Calgary decided to change its city’s tagline, and they’ve really taken mundane to a new level.

The marketing geniuses came up with “Blue Sky City” to represent our home. After years of extensive brainstorming and polling residents, taxpayers are left with a $4.8 million bill and a pie-in-the-sky slogan.

And let’s not forget the new logo, which perfectly encapsulates the “groundbreaking” thinking behind this campaign.

It’s definitely getting feedback from the public.

Calgarians Have Their Say

Reading Calgarian’s feedback on the logo and slogan made our day far more entertaining than we imagined, so we figured we’d share some of the fun.

Obviously, one of the biggest gripes people had with the whole thing had less to do with the actual slogan—it seems to be fairly inconsequential to most Calgarians—and more to do with how much money it cost to create it. 

“Don’t worry. It cost 5M to change the name, and now it’s going to cost 20M to change all the signs,” said one disgruntled Reddit user.

They’re right, of course.

But don’t worry, the jokes just write themselves – and some of the internet’s rants about the rebrand have almost made the crazy price tag worth the cost of admission.

“Blue Sky City is the placeholder picture in a photo frame you bought for 40% off at London Drugs.”

“Finally! Some concrete steps that will help me afford my mortgage and groceries in the same month.”

“All of those other colour sky cities are going to be jealous.”

“Now Calgary will forever be known as the BS City.”

And our personal favourite. …

“The Stampede colours are red and white. The Stampeders wear red. The Flames wear red. The Calgary Tower is red. The summer sun will be red through the smoke haze. We’re known to be a bit redneck. And yet, an ad agency pitched blue. Like we’re a bunch of yodelling country smurfs.”

Absolute poetic imagery on that last one. The city should have hired that person as part of the marketing team.

We look forward to memes that will pop off when the wildfire smoke starts again.

Or while you’re at the Calgary Stampede this week and the giant summer rain storms have you running for cover, remember, you are in the Blue Sky City.

There was also a range of comments claiming a kindergarten class could have come up with better (probably true) or that AI could have done better in 2 seconds and for free.

You know it’s bad when AI suggestions sound more original than the high-priced human marketing experts.

CafeMochaTea's ChatGPT responses for a slogan for Calgary | Reddit
CafeMochaTea’s ChatGPT responses for a new slogan for Calgary | Reddit

The Reasoning is Sound But….

To be fair to the marketing team, the decision to go with Blue Sky City was based on good intentions.

In 2023, Calgary wes definately not a blue sky city - if the smoke returns this summer the BLue Sky City memes will roll out in record time | Paperplanes13 | Reddit
In 2023, Calgary wes definately not a blue sky city – if the smoke returns this summer the Blue Sky City memes will roll out in record time | Paperplanes13 | Reddit

On their website explaining the reasoning behind the new marketing choices, the company’s thought process went much deeper than the generic-sounding slogan and simple logo might portray to the average viewer.

“We all live under the same blue skies,” it reads. “It’s an invitation to belong, reconcile, and embrace a more equitable future.” 

Obviously, it’s a sentiment we all want and can support.

But will Blue Sky City invite those ideas and feelings, or will people just take it literally and then make fun of slogan when the city is full of smoke or clouds?

The logo is also intended to look like beadwork created by indigenous peoples. 

“Beadwork is a powerful and relevant metaphor for our city. Small individual elements of varying shapes and sizes, colours, and compositions come together to create a stronger, more beautiful whole.”

Again, this is a much-needed attempt at reconciliation, but the last thing we thought of when looking at the logo was Indigenous beading. We’re sure most visitors won’t get the connection either.  But we are not marketing experts.

At the very least, the slogan has some truth, as Calgary does get more sunny days than anywhere else in Canada.

Even at its most varied presentation how many people will see beadwork in the logo? |
Even at its most varied presentation how many people will see beadwork in the logo? |

Better Than Before 

Also, almost any slogan is better than the old “Be A Part Of The Energy” catchline that sounded like a Nike ad for the oilsands. 

“Fossil Fuel… Just Use It.” 

You can imagine the voiceover on that one. Anyway….

As one Redditor said, “The best slogan for Calgary is the one on our Coat of Arms: Onward.”

So, we’ll end by quoting the people with marketing degrees to prove they were qualified to create Calgary’s new branding.

“When They Ask Who We Are, Look Up.” 

So read some of the billboards they are plastering around the city to interrupt our views of the blue sky, just like the infamous blue ring art installation that had many Calgarians shaking their heads, including Naheed Nenshi, the mayor at the time, who called the art piece “awful.”

Blue on blue on blue… at least, that is what we can expect when the stormy or smoky summer skies clear.

Welcome to the Blue Sky City!

If you can’t see it, then image it… now that is blue sky thinking!

Calgary Blue Sky City billboard

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