May 6, 2020

Industry Leadership Can Be Fuelled by Good Design

This week, Education Minister Dominic Cardy called on the province’s telecommunications industry to become, once again, a leader in its field by ensuring that all New Brunswickers have equal and universal access to stable, high-speed internet. 

Minister Cardy’s call-to-action is a reminder of that industry’s incredible international success story, which began in the 1960s, as NBTel transitioned from provincial utility to global telecommunications leader. It’s also a reminder that New Brunswick companies have a rich history of employing world-class designers to help visually communicate during times of innovation and disruption.  

In 1965, The New Brunswick Telephone Company shortened its name to NBTel and broadened its services and ambitions. As part of its rebranding, it hired Ernst Roch, one of Canada’s – and the world’s – most talented graphic designers to help reinvent its image and brand identity.

A Yugoslavian designer who was based in Montreal, Roch’s work is still internationally renowned today. His NBTel logo, which represented interconnectivity between two points, perfectly expressed the company’s bold, future-forward approach. 

NBTel became a technology leader in its field. It was the first phone company in Canada to be approved to provide television services and, later, internet service. It was the first telecom company to provide voicemail. 

Today, in this time of global crisis, New Brunswick companies have an opportunity, once again, to lead at home and abroad. Just as NBTel saw how design could convey its new ambitions, today we need design to cut through the clutter and create effective communication materials. Let’s become an industry leader in telecommunications, and give design and design thinking a proper role in helping to pave the way for innovation.

Read more about the story of NBTel’s logo on Canada Modern
Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick