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Posted by Mike Woodgate on January 15, 2014

Earlier this year, a client approached us with a unique request: to design a family crest for him. During our time researching the history, context, and symbology behind family crests we realized that they are every designer’s dream.

In medieval times, family crests were passed down from fathers to their first-born sons. All of their other sons would have to create their own family crests by making a modification to the original crest, so as to be recognized as being from that bloodline without being seen as the oldest son. The purpose of this tradition was to pass down the family story and heritage from one generation to the next – who are you, where are you from, what do you believe in, and who are you related to.

For more information about family crests, this site is a great resource:


(Here are some examples of family crests belonging to our staff. From left to right: Mike Woodgate, Dan Neil, and Thera-Lee Laurin. To find your own check out this site:

This challenge of symbolically defining a person so wholly, using only imagery and colour, made this job very enjoyable for us. It also inspired us to create our own BTI family crest; one that we could all wear proudly and which defines who we are, what we do, and where we are from. The next task was to concisely define who we are, and to figure out a way to illustrate it.

(The National Crest of Australia)

Crests often include animals on either side of the shield. Usually these animals are mythical (i.e. dragons and gryphons), or are there only to symbolize strength (i.e. lions, bulls and bears). However, having recently travelled to Australia and learning about their shield, I was greatly inspired by their use of the kangaroo and emu. These animals were chosen because they are both physically unable to move backwards, and so represent progress. Additionally, these animals are geographically unique to Australia. We, too, wanted our crest to represent our geographic location, along with symbolizing our work and values.

(Original concept involving a goose and raccoon as our animals)

(Developed concept showing a salmon and a heron)

(Final concept including tablet as shield)

(The completed BTI crest)

Our Geography:

Canada - A red maple leaf stands proudly atop our crest

Ontario - The trillium, the official flower of Ontario, is the foundation of our crest.

Streetsville- Our shield is divided into four quadrants by a road and a river. This represents Highway 403 and the Credit River; where Streetsville lies. On either side of our shield are images of a great blue heron and a salmon; both animals are commonly found around the credit river. I hand painted each of these animals, and I am honoured to have pieces of my artwork featured in our crest.

Our Home - In front of the maple leaf, sitting on top of our shield, is our home, where all our inspiration comes to life.

Our Work:

Art and Design: A pencil, paintbrush, and a precision art knife can be found behind our shield. Whether it is through concept work, mock up creation, or illustration, these tools still serve a great purpose in this digital age.

Technology: Technology and marketing go hand in hand. Here at BTI, we are always striving for innovation and putting modern technologies to their best uses. In our crest, technology is represented by using a tablet as our main holding shape.

Our Values:

Ideation: Creativity and innovation are the foundation of our business. We constantly strive for great ideas, this is represented on the top left quadrant of our shield.

Teamwork: Our company thrives on teamwork and a supportive atmosphere. This combined with our great diversity leads to our success. Our teamwork and diversity is represented in the top right quadrant of our shield.

Passion:  To produce good work, you need to be passionate about what you do. Our passion is what leads us to creating work which consistently exceeds our clients expectations. The heart on the bottom left of our shield represents our passion.

Growth: With our roots firmly planted, our growth over the years has been steady thanks to our people and our valued partners. What better to represent our growth than a tree, found in the bottom right quadrant of our crest.