"A waving flag... it celebrates our diverse community. Having it in the logo puts Petro-Canada alongside the community, standing together in solidarity and celebrating our diversity."
When graphic designer Katie Wilhelm was asked to refresh Petro-Canada's Pride logo, she was tasked with visually representing Petro-Canada’s support for 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians. Petro-Canada recognizes that the 2SLGBTQ+ community is part of what makes Canada wonderful, and we want this logo to reflect that.
A big ask, but Katie was up for the challenge. Katie, who identifies as pansexual and is a member of the queer community, said in designing the logo, she felt the weight of representing the whole community. “I wanted to make the community proud, to make them proud of my pride. And I didn’t want to tokenize the community. As an Indigenous person, I am often asked to do Indigenous-themed design so I am conscious of how easy it is to create designs that are inauthentic.”
As part of her process, Katie researched other corporate Pride logos and reactions from the community, wanting to avoid any pitfalls and accusations of rainbow-washing.
“When companies use queer symbols to sell products – that’s when ethical alarm bells go off. It’s like they’re saying, ‘Come in now (during Pride month), but don't come in in July.’ And while using queer symbols can show respect for the community, we do need to ask, ‘Is this an appropriate representation of my community?’ We can choose to trust brands who provide genuine support, but we must hold them accountable.”
The waving flag that Katie incorporated into the Petro-Canada Pride logo represents several of the ideas she hoped the design would communicate. It shows the celebration of a diverse community and the promotion of equal rights, and its movement symbolizes that we’re making progress together.
The raised flag also represents an invitation to Katie. “Now that we've been invited, that the flag has been raised - it is up to us to pull our seat up the table. Petro-Canada is listening. I have seen that because they have listened to me (in designing the logo). And I will continue to hold them accountable.”
Katie also believes that initiatives like Petro-Canada’s Pride logo are calls for allies to get more involved. “If you see something, say something. This is what allies need to do. If you see hate, you need to step in and say something. As allies, your voices have been heard more around the table. Earn the community’s trust by saying something. And continue to advocate for initiatives like this, initiatives that affect the community in a positive way. Sure, well-meaning straight white people may have started these initiatives, but as queer BIPOC people, we need to continue them.”
At Petro-Canada, we know that community isn’t just the physical space you inhabit, it’s the people you connect with. We stand with, support and celebrate members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community across Canada who are our customers, neighbours and work in our stores. Keeping all Canadians at the heart of what we do and being here for each other no matter the journey is what living by the leaf is all about. Happy Pride, Canada!
Katie Wilhelm is an award-winning designer and marketing consultant. She is member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation at Neyaashiinigmiing with Canadian settler heritage.