Case Study

Lord Stanley’s Gift

Inside every slab of stone is a monument waiting to be unveiled. One must simply remove the excess.

Inside every slab of stone is a monument waiting to be unveiled. One must simply remove the excess.

The challenge

How do you brand an international art competition without hinting at a winning aesthetic? By inspiring the world’s greatest artists while capturing the hearts of a nation.

Over two decades, a group of celebrated hockey players and passionate fans came together with a single purpose: to create a national monument commemorating the gift of Lord Stanley of Preston to the people of Canada—the Stanley Cup, the championship trophy awarded annually to the winner of the National Hockey League playoffs.

A national art competition

Lord Stanley Memorial Monument Inc. (LSMMI), led by acclaimed Canadian architect Barry Padolsky, set out to design and erect a monument in downtown Ottawa to mark the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup in 2017.

LSMMI hired Stiff to develop, coordinate, implement and execute a complete, overarching communications strategy that ultimately included the Lord Stanley’s Gift visual brand, design competition website, monument website, media strategy and youth outreach plan. It was a strategy crafted to engage the world’s best artists, excite the Canadian public and educate young people.

A public art installation goes digital

We also were challenged to build a monument website that met the needs of the monument’s diverse partners. Canadian Heritage wanted the site to educate Canadians about the history of the Stanley Cup and its central place in the history of professional hockey. The City of Ottawa expected the website to excite the public and position the monument as part of Canada 150 celebrations. The National Hockey League and the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club needed the monument website to be an information resource and enhance the experience of people who visit the completed monument.

“This is serious business. A lot of people have dedicated their hearts to this.”

Lord Stanley’s Gift Board Member
Brand as blank slate

We created a visual identity that conveyed the historic significance of the Stanley Cup, respected the dignity of the office of Governor General that Lord Stanley held when he made his historic pledge, and inspired dozens of artists across Canada and around the world to exhibit creative and technical excellence on par with the athletic prowess of those who compete for the Stanley Cup. At the same time, we ensured the identity did not prejudice or influence the ideas and inclinations of prospective artists.

The visual brand and design competition website showcased the monument as an opportunity for artists and designers to engage their full arsenal of talents to create what promised to be a highly popular piece of public art. The visual brand in particular captures that once-in-a-generation opportunity and its inherent creative potential. It evokes the presence of the monument itself—a stark pillar of rough stone, a figurative blank canvas that hints at work that has yet to begin.

In designing and building a website that ultimately satisfied the needs of these partners, we created three key sections:

Design competition website


Applicants (benchmark was 20)


Views over eight months


Bounce rate

3 min

Average session duration

Monument website






Bounce rate

Public Engagement


Attendance at competition launch


Attendance at monument unveiling


Finalist page visits


Students at interpretive panel design competition (benchmark was 400)

“This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And that’s a good thing.”

Barry Padlosky