Our logo – a goalie’s big idea

Manitoba Hydro logo circa 1973.

Keith Brammall didn’t have a lengthy career at Manitoba Hydro, but his original design of our logo in 1969 is his legacy.

Keith Brammall - Daly Display 1968

Enlarge image: Keith Brammall - Daly Display 1968.

“In order to capture the character required for the Manitoba Hydro logo, perfect, well balanced, shapes were used,” Brammall wrote in his typewritten 1969 report to Hydro executive. “The design is simple, but yet I think very memorable and effective. It is simply an overlay of the ‘m’, representing Manitoba, on the ‘h’ representing Hydro.”

Brammall, a display specialist in the utility’s Marketing Department, said it took about six months “broken time” to come up with the concept.

The Manitoba Hydro logo was officially introduced in April 1973 after federal Trademarks Office had registered it to be used by Manitoba Hydro exclusively on everything from letterhead to business cards to hard hats to field vehicles.

Brammall’s logo replaced the first Manitoba Hydro symbol – a red cogwheel and three green curved lines illustrating industry and falling water – that was adopted in 1961 when the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board amalgamated with the Manitoba Power Commission to form a single utility: Manitoba Hydro.

Manitoba Hydro's first logo

Enlarge image: Manitoba Hydro's first logo.

The logo has been updated over the years, most recently with the addition of the utility’s Energy for Life tagline last year.

What’s stayed consistent is Brammall’s original design.

“It is often more important to suggest the character of an organization than to show its products,” he wrote in his 1969 report. “In the case of Manitoba Hydro, I think it necessary to suggest by graphic means such qualities as cleanliness, reliability, safety, efficiency, comfort and distinction.”

Brammall ended his report by saying management’s acceptance of the logo meant a lot of work still had to happen before it could be used, such as properly defining its proportion and layout.

“Each of these aspects are just as important as the initial design of the logo, for a good logo and bad layout are just as bad as no logo at all.”

So, who was Keith Brammall? How did he wind up working as a display specialist at Hydro?

Brammall and wife Susan – Nov. 3, 1967 Winnipeg Tribune

Brammall and wife Susan – Nov. 3, 1967 Winnipeg Tribune

Enlarge image: Brammall and wife Susan – Nov. 3, 1967 Winnipeg Tribune.

The sources to tell us that are thin. Online newspapers indicate he and his wife Susan came to Winnipeg from England in mid-1967. His first job a was at Daly Display Ltd. where he was hired as a designer for the company’s new Design and Exhibit Division. Daly Display was one of the city’s leading marketing companies.

A Feb. 24, 1968 appointment notice in the Winnipeg Tribune said Daly Display hired Brammall because he was well qualified. It said Brammall attended Manchester School of Art for six years where he specialized in ceramics and textile design and studied at the Manchester College of Art and Design, specializing in package design, form, structure, and graphics.

Brammall stayed with Daly for about two years before joining Hydro. He and his wife had an apartment at 519 Burnell St. Susan worked as a nursery schoolteacher.

Brammall is most often mentioned in the Sports pages. He was a goalie for Italinter in the Manitoba Central Soccer League for several years until the mid-1970s.

Based on listings in the Henderson’s Directories of that era – Henderson’s Directories list occupants and professions of city households and is no longer published – Brammall left Manitoba Hydro in 1976 to return to Daley Display on St. Matthews Avenue to work as a designer. His wife Susan worked as an instructor at the University of Winnipeg. The couple had brought a home in Wildwood Park.

Brammall stayed at Daly Display until 1978, according to the Henderson’s Directory. The last mention of him in the newspapers, in a soccer context, was in June 1977.

Henderson’s has no listing for him and Susan after 1978.

There is a FindAGrave record for a Keith Brammall, born 1946 and died July 11, 2001, and buried in the Manchester area. We could not find an online obituary, so we have no idea if it’s the same Keith Brammall.

Keith Brammall's original presentation

Keith Brammall's original presentation

“In order to capture the character required for the Manitoba Hydro logo, perfect, well balanced, shapes were used,” Brammall wrote in his typewritten 1969 report to Hydro executive.