Toronto tourist attraction is thinking small with its new visual identity

The Hive has given a new Toronto tourist attraction a hand with its new name and branding.

The centrepiece of Little Canada’s visual identity is known internally as “giant hands,” and features imagery such as a tiny moose perched atop the fingers and a polar bear and her cubs walking across the knuckles. The Hive’s approach to creating the identity was “show less and evoke more,” says chief creative officer Simon Creet.

Set to open in 2020, Little Canada will occupy approximately 45,000 square feet at 10 Dundas St. East at Yonge-Dundas Square. Modelled after Hamburg, Germany’s famous Miniatur Wonderland and Gulliver’s Gate in New York, the attraction will feature highly detailed 1:87 replicas of iconic Canadian buildings and landmarks like Niagara Falls, including moving vehicles and a 20-minute day/night cycle.

The $17 million attraction is the brainchild of Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, a businessman whose family started the Dutch fashion retailer C&A, and Dave MacLean, a former civil engineer and two-time president of the Model Railroad Club of Toronto.

“It’s a miniature world format, but it’s like no miniature world you’ve ever seen,” says VP and general manager John Phillipson, a former packaged goods marketer who joined Little Canada in a part-time role as vice-president of business development in 2017, becoming its full-time VP and general manager this month.

Screen shot 2019-09-16 at 6.34.26 PM.pngThe attraction was originally slated to be called “Our home and miniature land,” but Phillipson says that name was a little too on-the-nose. 

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“It had a huge catch to it in that it evokes images of [Whitby’s now closed miniature village attraction] Cullen Gardens and even mini-putt,” Phillipson told The Message.

Phillipson knew The Hive and Creet from his time working in marketing with companies including Cadbury and Weston—where the agency worked on campaigns including “The Greatest Thing Since” for Wonder and “The Cadbury Bicycle Factory”— and enlisted the agency to revamp the brand name and identity.

“They get at the essence of a brand,” says Phillipson of The Hive. “You have to work collaboratively with them, but when you do you get brilliant nuggets that are very brand-centric.”

The new brand identity is intended to be “open, a little bit different and playful,” says Phillipson. “The big thing about it was the juxtaposition of the word ‘little’ with Canada. Once we got to the creative expression everything started to flow, because if you’ve got a Little Canada, you’ve obviously got a Little Toronto and a Petit Québec.”

“Our work was inspired by the tremendous pride and affection that people have for Canada,” says Creet. “The name ‘Little Canada’ works because of its simplicity and its intrigue—Canada isn’t little, and everybody knows it.”

The Hive will also incorporate the brand’s new visual elements into Little Canada’s website and marketing materials.



Chris Powell