Note: This post was originally published in July. When I corrected an error that I noticed, WordPress somehow considered it a new post, thus its appearance here.
Two examples of national-level rebranding have been recently announced. I thought that one was decidedly better than the other.
1. In Australia, something called the Nation Brand Advisory Council has urged the adoption of a logo featuring a stylized wattle, Australia’s national flower, with “AU” superimposed over it.
Other variants of this logo may be seen at Brand New, where we also read the Council’s statement:
We love our kangaroo – it is currently the most internationally recognized shortcut to Australia. But we considered whether it would shift perception of our nation, or simply reinforce what people already knew about us.
Further, to adopt a kangaroo as our national symbol would require agreement on a new single ‘roo’ (by all agencies currently using kangaroos) as dual-branding situations of multiple kangaroos sitting side by side will not work. Therefore, with consideration for the mark to co-exist with existing national symbols, this led to a recommendation against the kangaroo.
New Brand Mark: The council’s preference for the Nation Brand mark was the wattle – it’s our national flower and while not immediately recognizable internationally, it will become so over time.
Our proposed Nation Brand mark balances a literal and abstract interpretation of a wattle flower. It’s an optimistic burst of gold positivity. Co-created with our indigenous design partners Balarinji, the mark is embedded with a cultural richness and graphic voice that speaks distinctively of Australia.
I don’t really know what’s going on here. What body is this new wattle mark supposed to represent, exactly? Is the idea that it will replace the kangaroo eventually as a top-level national “brand” for all things Australian?
Here are two such kangaroo logos, one for the Australian Made Campaign, the other for sports fans. The rendition on the left seems somewhat dated (like it’s representing a brand of tennis shoe c. 1985), and obviously boxing is appropriate for sports but not necessarily for trade. But it would be easy enough to come up with a new kangaroo logo, methinks, which would probably be more appealing than the proposed wattle. I like plants, but animals have personality. Moreover, this particular wattle looks like a “complex data visualization” or the results of a particle accelerator experiment – or even a coronavirus! (I also wonder if it isn’t Australia’s equivalent of favoring the protea over the springbok – the idea being that the kangaroo represents the bad old days?)
A better rendition of the flower can be seen in the Golden Wattle Flag, one in a long list of proposed Australian flags. The seven petals (representing the six states plus the Northern Territory) form a seven-pointed Commonwealth Star, familiar from the current flag and from the crest in the national coat of arms. If a wattle is absolutely required, this one is probably a better choice!
2. The Icelandic Football Association (Knattspyrnusamband Íslands) has unveiled a new logo. Previously it was this, which was used both by the Association itself and by the national teams:
I like the stylized rendition of Iceland’s flag, but sports teams don’t actually need allusions to the sport itself in their logos. Thus I like the KSI’s new, ball-less wordmark it adopted earlier this year, and I especially like the logo it has just prescribed for its teams:
This is perhaps a little too complex for a team logo, but it is certainly aesthetically appealing in its way, and is most appropriate to Iceland: it’s a stylized rendition of the four supporters that surround Iceland’s coat of arms.
At first glance these supporters are the four living beings of Revelation 4:7, later used to identify the authors of the each of four gospels, but note that the coat of arms has a dragon instead of St. Mark’s lion. That is because the four supporters are in fact the (pagan) Landvættir, i.e. the four traditional protectors of Iceland. According to Wikipedia:
The bull (Griðungur) is the protector of northwestern Iceland, the eagle or griffin (Gammur) protects northeastern Iceland, the dragon (Dreki) protects the southeastern part, and the rock-giant (Bergrisi) is the protector of southwestern Iceland.
One small problem with the logo is noted by an Icelandic-expert friend, who comments:
I love this new logo, though they’ve got the wights out of order. The only one that is appropriately placed is dreki – the rest don’t map onto the areas that they are supposed to protect.
A good point, but forgivable, I think, if it means that the Landvættir can all fit together in such an awesome way. Well done, Iceland!