The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Language Of Design …
September 27, 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

130907 Balderdash and Piffle 001

I’ve written loads about the importance of design – and not just because I’m married to a designer – however one thing that I’ve never really enjoyed is listening to the bollocks they spout when explaining/justifying what they’ve come up with.

Yes … yes … I know advertising people – especially planners – can be accused of the very same thing, however compared to the design industry, we’re strictly 9th division.

Now what’s brought this all on is that I’ve just read the justification for the Australian APEC logo … and to be honest, it’s left me feeling mentally violated.

To make matters even worse, it was done by a company I used to work for – PRINCIPALS – however given I had the most frustrating time of my career [so far] there, I don’t feel too guilty about naming and shaming, ha.

[OK, it wasn’t entirely their fault I had such a bad time – they were smart and had some great people – however it felt like I was working in a mausoleum, both interms of the atmosphere inside the agency and their desire to do brave and exciting work/thinking]

Anyway, are you ready? 

Sure?  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you …

OK, first up the ‘brief’ … [as detailed by PRINCIPALS]

“The branding for APEC had to epitomise Australia – the optimism, the culture and the style of our nation.

It had to be upbeat and inviting. It had to tell a story about Australia, about Australia’s attitude to APEC and to our stance on cooperation.”

Jesus … that’s a lot isn’t it.

1 Epitomise Australia’s optimism.

2 Epitomise Australia’s culture.

3 Epitomise Australia’s style.

4 Be upbeat and inviting.

5 Tell a story about Australia.

6 Explain Australia’s attitude to APEC.

7 Explain Australia’s stance on cooperation.

That’s not the most single minded brief is it?

OK, so things like incorporating Australia’s culture, style, attitude to APEC and attitude to cooperation would have been easy because lets face it, they don’t have any [ha!] … however explaining Australia’s attitude to APEC whilst still being optimistic would of been a challenge given the average Aussie on the street probably thinks the whole thing is a pile of shit – and not just because they caused massive disruptions in the city for ‘security preparations’.

However thanks to the talent and brilliance of PRINCIPALS, they managed to come up with a design that answered all those requirements and here is the result …


I know what you’re thinking, “NO WAY IS THAT ANSWERING ALL THE ISSUES IN THE BRIEF” … but you’d be wrong because apparently, this is what it all means …

“The symbol is deceptively simple. It’s made up of 21 arrows that symbolise the 21 attending economies and it has an ‘aussie glow’, reflecting the warmth of the welcome extended to all delegates” 

And there I was thinking it looked like a cheapo Christmas decoration!!!

Alright I’m being a mean shit but I’m not actually slagging off the logo [even though I’m not a big fan of it], just its justification … though I do accept PRINCIPALS have created some work that has achieved more exposure than most agencies could ever dream of [On top of being all around Australia [including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and on Aussie currency] it also got tons of exposure thanks to global news channels broadcasting ‘highlights’ from the event] so it’s no wonder they’re right-royally chuffed with themselves.

Still think the rational is a pile of wank though 🙂

24 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The logo itself is ok, but the typography isnt that good to me. Just seems like they spent all the time on the image not the text.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Oh my God you’re so right. I’m still amazed at the stuff I get as justification for a concept.
We’re a city based world, we navigate our lives through imagery more and more. Design matters like it never did before. So please can we make it count with stuff that exists in that world rather than Teletubby Land?

Comment by NP

I think a smiling kangaroo in business attire would have met the brief myself.

Comment by John

is principals the place with little lord fonteroy?

something is going on here because ive finally found a serious post of yours i love plus im agreeing with np again. what the fuck?

design is one of the most important and powerful aspects of communication and yet too many fucking design shops arent happy enough with all that influence, so they use big complex words to justify their little drawings because theyve got the ego of a an ageing hollywood starlet who hasnt had a hit in 10 years but once won an oscar.
if jemma ever justified one of her designs with the bollocks those fuckers at principals used for the above, id be stuck in alcatraz serving 20 for murder and i think lovely george would be joining me.
please stop making me like your comments, get back to the shit quick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Im so conflicted. Andy seems so much more intelligent when he isnt angry, but is so much more witty when he is angry.

Can you make a post he agrees with, but also requires him to bring vengance upon the stupid??

Comment by Rob Mortimer

seems? you cheeky fucking bastard but heres a planning tip for you mortimer, never judge a book by its cover because investigation may unearth that the first impression was more because the person couldnt really give a fuck about whats going on rather than not actually understanding it. fuck thats deep.

Comment by andy@cynic

Trust Andy to pick away at a compliment!!
I like to think I dont judge a book by its cover, but the problem is that entirely negates the point of graphic design…

See what I mean. Intelligent comments and meaningful thoughts, when he gives a fuck he turns into a genii.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Andy always makes me laugh!

Comment by John

john always makes me want to masturbate. masturbate? i meant stick hot needles in my eyes.

Comment by andy@cynic

after a momentous moment of creeping, john is in my good books again.
you could learn from that strategy mortimer, it might fuck off planners like campbell but for creative egos, we love it, just ask harry b

Comment by andy@cynic

In two posts I called you intelligent, witty, and a genius. Where was I NOT creeping?!!!


Comment by Rob Mortimer

Creeping? The email was sent before I saw this deeply worrying expression of your subconscious – first NP now me – I’m sure you’ll be moving the office to Christopher Street any day now.

Comment by John

but us creatives are thick bastards compared to you planning gurus mortimer so subtelty can easily be missed and as for you my dear john, well you can call me anything you like, just call me. oh what the fuck am i doing? ive got work to do and am waiting for campbells complaining phonecall so lets drop all this gay shit and get back to our predefined roles of master (me) and servants (you and campbell).

Comment by andy@cynic

Just to get this great post back on track, I do think the reason most designers speak in a language unlike most planners is because the way they look, live and act in the World is much more visually driven so creates a different point of reference for them which is far less rational and much more emotive. I love designers but like Rob, that is also because I’m married to one. 🙂

Comment by Pete

I would never do that Andy because it could represent the commencement of an unstoppable force that festers with frustrations until one it explodes into a myriad of emotions and colour leaving the delicate thread between magnetism and destruction ripped at its core. 🙂
Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

you evil bitch. im so glad we hired you 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Just wanted to pop by and contribute to this joyous discussion by saying the word:


Thank you.

Comment by The Kaiser

good to have you here kaiser. what about cocksuckingneanderthal? any good?

Comment by andy@cynic

Ooooh that’s good too Andy. I like that. By the way, the dog has just delivered the report you were after, albeit, through the natural channels.

Still want it?

Comment by The Kaiser

campbell – you-know-who are “very interested”.


Comment by Marcus

artists are also full of shit when it comes to justifying a result and i fucking hate it. and pete’s right – try explaining something to someone in a completely different language and you’ll find out how difficult it is. HOWEVER, this logo sucks balls, as does the APEC summit. in fact, just to be a pain in the arse, i hope all the delegates are made to wear singlets, stubbies, cork hats and eat vegemite on toast for breakfast for the whole conference – see what they think of the australian fucking glow after that!

Comment by lauren

Ooooooh it’s all been going off while I’ve been travelling hasn’t it … and I assure you Andy, the posts today are far more inkeeping with the normal bollocks you like so you should be much happier/angrier!

Lauren, the conference has been and gone and funnily enough, while all the delegates DIDN’T have to wear singlets, stubbies, cork hats and eat vegemite on toast for breakfast, they did get photographed on the Opera House steps in Dryazabones [or however you spell them!]

As Alan Partridge would say, “Saaaaaaaaaad”

And trust Pete to nicely define the reason artists/designers talk in a different language, I think he is so right but now makes me beg the question, when Jill said ‘yes’ to the wedding, did she really mean to convey a different response?

Comment by Rob

Just read your comment Marcus – that is tops.

Now, let me know whether you-know-who can do anything to make the other you-know-who feel even better about you – though if they are as smart as they think they are, that shouldn’t even be an issue.

Everything I have 2 of is now crossed! Well, not everything, that could cause serious damage!

Comment by Rob

happily behind the times here… has the election been already too?.. heh.

Comment by lauren

Leave a Reply