The Firm

Ion is a team of place branding experts that collaborates with cities, communities and destinations.

Ion was founded on the belief that we can positively change the world through good design. We consistently strive to provide leadership in creating authentic place brands and implementing them with sensitivity and global perspective.

Full potential
Our firm helps clients' realize their full potential through civic engagement bootcamps and workshops, brand strategy, design and tactical implementation. We bring passion, sensitivity, design excellence to bear on all our projects. The company’s 26 year track record speaks to this successful collaboration with clients and their stakeholders in the creation of authentic place and destination brands.

We don't create brands
We are akin to anthropologists. Our role is to help reveal stories, culture and folklore, historical origins and physical characteristics by engaging and listening to citizens and stakeholders in whose minds and hearts a brand already exists. Those that have experienced it and have a history with it. We nurture and tease out a visual manifestation a brand. When done well, that manifestation will be authentic and sustainable. It will be true to itself. It will be shared with new audiences in compelling, memorable and evocative ways. It will bring people together with an enduring, common vision that seeds brand champions.

Creativity in tactical implementation
Beyond strategy and design, Ion’s tactical implementation in all media streams is unparalleled in the industry. We excel at developing strategic brand platforms and marketing strategies that are effective in saving time and money by being easily implemented by people with a wide range of skill levels. Our work reaches out and touches your audience in smart, creative ways. It brings people on board and saves money while doing it.

Formed in 1988
Partners David Coates and Rod Roodenburg founded Ion directly after graduation from Emily Carr College of Art + Design in 1988. Their first clients were primarily environmental and cultural groups. Eventually the firm's approach started to catch on with corporate clients and the firm's reputation took off in the early '90s. Ion quickly earned a reputation for breaking away from design clichés and developing edgy yet effective design solutions. Rhonda Rubinstein of Print Magazine in the US opined “Ion has single-handedly institutionalized hip design.” Today, the firm continues to deliver a high level of expertise focused on place branding, and with the personal service clients have always enjoyed.

Ion was the first in Canada to offer website design services
In 1994, prior to the explosion of graphic websites on the web, Ion was offering website design within the rudimentary confines of the Internet at the time. The partners realized that content management systems would be key to developing effective client managed sites. Because of this, they developed Smallbox Software in 1998, which grew into its own incorporated company and was split from Ion in 2005. This dynamic company has since been incorporated and now operates independently from Ion, although the firms often collaborate on projects. This exceptional software is used by cities, municipalities and other public and private sector organizations.

For a quarter century, our business has been the visual communication of the idea of place. We succeed when we authentically articulate our clients’ brand through exceptional design and implementation.