Help Get A Classic Canadian Standards Manual Republished

Love graphic standards manuals? Burton Kramer’s 1974 CBC manual is the latest proposed reissue.

Although it might not be as recognizable south of Windsor, the classic CBC “Gem” logo has the same funky 1970s cachet in Canada as the vintage PBS logo in the States.


It was originally designed by Burton Kramer, a Yale-trained Canadian-American graphic designer, as part of a broader identity for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1974. Now, following the unlikely trend of republishing vintage standards manuals, a group of design-loving Canadians are trying to bring Kramer’s 1974 CBC Graphic Standards Manual to Kickstarter.

After seeing the revival work being done down South bringing the classic MTA and NASA standards manuals back to print, Canadian graphic designer and art director Adrian Jean wondered how his country’s own design heritage could be celebrated and shared in the same way.

He settled upon the CBC Graphic Standards Manual because he felt it was one that was similarly iconic, both culturally and artistically. In the patriotic words of Arlene Gehmacher, curator of Canadian Art and Graphic design at the Royal Ontario Museum: “The CBC manual epitomizes the concept of integrated design. It set the standard for Canadian corporate identity programmes and has become a part of our national heritage.”

The original manual contained over 200 pages, describing the way in which the CBC’s “Gem” identity should be used, and in what context. Like most standards manuals, it provided a number of variants of the CBC’s logo and other identifying assets, as well as guidance on typography, spacing, merchandising, and more. It also apparently contains some pretty funky pages, detailing how the CBC Logo would look on the side of a bright blue sports car, Batmobile-style.

Although Kramer’s identity is no longer used by the CBC, this is easily a standards manual that deserves a place on any design lover’s bookshelf, alongside Massimo Vignelli’s work for the MTA, Paul Rand’s work for IBM, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar’s work for Mobil and Pan Am, and Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn’s work for NASA. For its part, the CBC seems game to opening up the rights to Kramer’s Standards Manual so that members of the public can purchase a copy. It wants to gauge interest first, though, which is why it’s currently asking for people to sign an online petition, saying they’ll buy a copy if and when it goes on sale.

If you’ve got a passion for the “golden age” of corporate identity design, throw them your John Hancock.


[All Images: via]