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Auckland's New Logo should be no-go

Why the proposed logo for Auckland is horrible—without even seeing it

I confess I haven’t seen the proposed design for a new logo for Auckland City. I’ve heard and read some media response, including muted interviews on the radio by a couple of designers (who claim, of course, to be brand experts, rather than logo designers). The interesting thing about the interviews with said designers is that it is painfully obvious that they don’t want to ‘queer the pitch’ for when it is their turn to tender for a project.

The opportunity to poke one’s nose in the public trough is the dream of design firms and advertising agencies alike. Government clients are quite different to entrepreneurial ones—you know, the one’s that earned the budget for themselves. Entrepreneurs actually care and have responsibility—this can make them a pain the arse to work with. As showbiz has the maxim—newer work with animals or small children—advertising lore recommended against working with entrepreneurs because they promise large budgets but never spend them, they are convinced they could do everything better themselves (or their 6 year old daughter could) and take forever to pay. Entrepreneurs are not going to pay for endless meetings and other wasteful exercises indulged in by bureaucrats . Bureaucrats need to seem studious and cautious because that is what they are paid handsomely to do. A large chunk of the budget—did I hear a million dollars correctly?—will be spent consulting consultants or peering into the entrails of goats (I’ve heard the results can be uncannily similar).

In a way I don’t really want to see the new design ... especially if it is anything like the 2012 logo for the London Olympics (which the Sun newspaper reported induced epileptic fits in some people). I will either like it or not. That is the point. Design is entirely subjective.

Auckland City’s proposed redesign of their logo is not a re-branding exercise. It is a re-logoing exercise.

Unless the council can demonstrate an increase in revenues (‘selling less stuff for more’ as Brian R. Richards puts it), versus an increase in costs to ratepayers for repainting, reprinting and disposal of the previous version- then it is a pointless, negative exercise. Imagine the cost of redoing the parking tickets alone …

I doubt that a single person migrating to Sydney to live will cite as their reason for leaving:  “Sydney had a better logo—and for while I was tempted by Newcastle—it was a close run thing…”

This kind of ‘re-branding’ is a negative reflection on marketing communications professionals. It is as much of an ‘investment’ as buying this year’s model of last year’s car.

Auckland is not chosen for its municipal logo.

Any logo will do. The current city of sails identity is fine—because it is irrelevant anyway. We might even have become attached to it.

As for branding the city. Well, it can’t be done. Which is not to say Auckland isn’t or doesn’t have an identity, character and story—millions of them. Otahuhu is as Auckland as it gets. As is Devonport, Downtown or even Ponsonby. Palpably so. Ironically each place has its own identity, character and story.

Brands are living, breathing things. Not static logos.

When the current logo is genuinely worn out—give it a tweak. It works for Shell oil.