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

New Year. Old Habits.
January 9, 2013, 6:10 am
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There’s so many things you can say about branding companies.



Business liberators.


But I wouldn’t say any of those.

Oh no, for me, there’s a whole bunch of other words I’d use.





But hey, that’s just me.

OK, to be absolutely fair I am being unbelievably generalistic because:

1. Not all branding companies are like that. Hell, I know quite a few who genuinely live up to their ego.

2. There are some amazing people that work in the industry. Talented, creative, intelligent people. And that includes inside Landor, FurtureBrand and Arnell.

3. Not all branding companies charge ridiculous amounts for a logo they claim will change the World.

But sadly, I can’t help but feel these are in the minority … though that could be because the big, bland boys are constantly in the press making outrageous claims while basically destroying the credibility and value of the wider industry at the same time.

Landor anyone?

Futurebrand anyone?

Arnell anyone?

Of course I know it’s not just branding companies that act this way.

Adland has made some of the most amazing fuckwit declarations since Chamberlin came back and said Hitler was rather a nice chappie … but at least they don’t:

1. Claim a logo, all on it’s own, can achieve business success.

2. Have the audacity to charge extra to develop the ‘personality’ of the brand.

3. Say there is a ‘proprietary system’ for any single thing the client wants. From ‘naming strategies’ to ‘where to hang a sign’.

That said, they get away with charging a fuckload cash for what they do, so maybe it’s adland who are the idiots, but I digress.

I say all this because I recently learnt that the Tourism Australia had blown AU$200,000 to change their logo from this …

… to this …

Even though it is an Aussie cliché [which is at least more honest than the shit they say in their ads] I personally prefer the original, but that’s down to my [bad] personal taste.

However what caught my eye was when I read the justification behind the change … justification that makes me feel utter, utter despair.

First the reason for the change.

Here’s Andrew McEvoy, the managing director of Tourism Australia:

“Tourism brands the world over, from Australia to Argentina, are continually updating their visual identity. Even New York’s iconic ‘I [heart] NY’ logo was revamped for the city’s recent summer tourism campaign. While it has powerful visual elements that are still relevant, the current logo itself is beginning to look out-of-step with the next phase of our There’s nothing like Australia campaign.”

OK, to be fair, it’s a fairly decent rationale. Well, the second sentence is – the first is just a statement that could indicates that other tourism boards are as desperate to show they are doing something as Tourism Australia.

No, the bit that really bothers me is this, from Richard Curtis, MD at Interbrand.

“There’s a lot about the existing logo that we wanted to keep. It has real vibrancy and a sense of movement. But some of the elements are unnecessarily complex and difficult to reproduce – like the sun’s glare on the kangaroo’s back, the kangaroo’s paws and ears.”

Curtis adds the logo was too “childlike”, and did not reflect the “sophistication” of Tourism Australia’s brand positioning.


Putting aside the issue regarding ‘Australia and sophistication’, they think this new logo is less ‘childlike’ than the original?

Are they kidding me?

Even if it was true, does this express style and sophistication to you?

Hell, I’m from Nottingham and it doesn’t do it for me, so fuck knows how people from decent cities and countries will interpret it.

And I wonder if their brief was to ‘freshen up’ or ‘recreate’ the logo?

Judging by Andrew McEvoy’s comment, it was to freshen up – but I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve seen a branding company come back with an update of the original logo, even though they could have done things more radically. Especially when they say the logo is supposed to be the embodiment of the change they have engineered within the company.


Apparently this whole re-design [even though it is not a redesign by any stretch of the imagination] took 6 months to complete.


We all know why it took that long, because every colour change meant copious amounts of 3 hour meetings as shades were discussed as if they were the answer to mankind’s survival.

OK, in the big scheme of things – given the amount of people that not doubt were involved in something like this, not to mention the amount of versions they had to create for the various collateral they smack their logo on – AU$200,000 isn’t that much cash, but I just wonder what could have been done if instead of a committee approach, Tourism Australia reached out to the countries best designers and said, what would you do to represent this great country to the World in the most distinctive, relevant and captivating way possible?

Apart from it maybe costing less than the AU$200,000, I think the big, bland, boring branding companies given a real kick up the arse – making them have to actually prove their worth rather than suck up time and fees with pointless processes and methodologies.

The funny thing is that while branding companies love to look down on adland and try to take away their revenue, management consultants are now doing the same to branding companies – which begs the question, if they’re so good at branding and marketing, how are they allowing that to happen.

All this says to me is that like adland, great work tends to happen because of great people [inside companies] rather than great companies and certainly great processes … but given we live in a World where companies prefer ‘safe’ to ‘pragmatic’, it’s no wonder they prefer to work with companies who take the ‘human factor’ out of what they need to develop.

Though to be fair, given many companies act like fucking egotistical nut cases when the shackles are taken off, it’s no surprise we’re all trapped in this perpetual loop of frustration and lost potential.

If only we could all learn from people like Kenneth Grange.

41 Comments so far
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this is more fucking like it. angry, generalising, petty. theres suddenly some hope for this blog. not much, but theres a faint fucking pulse that stops me calling the undertakers and ordering the cardboard box coffin option. for another day or two.

Comment by andy@cynic

Praise indeed.

Sure, you’re calling me a petty, generalising, angry man … but compared to what you usually call me, I’ll happily take it.

Comment by Rob

Reading these blog comments made a lot more sense when I realised that andy@cynic and Rob are the same person.

Comment by Shackleford Hurtmore

fuck you. its bad enough knowing him, who the fuck would want to be him.

Comment by andy@cynic

See, it’s like those films where the guy has a split personality – one of you is constantly angry, and the other one is constantly fucking furious.

Comment by Shackleford Hurtmore

I’m on blood pressure medication these days, I’m not allowed to be angry.

Comment by Rob

As someone that worked with both of them for a number of years, I can assure you they’re not the same person. I wish they were, I would have only had to endure half the abuse. 😉

You are much calmer these days Robert, is it medication or maturity? Keep it up, it’s nice to have you around.

Comment by Pete

i dont like either of the fucking logos but at least the original had some personality. sure, it was the personality of a retard but thats still better than looking like an accountant with a fuzzy felt kit.

and if you dont know what fuzzy felt is, go back to your fucking cot. child.

Comment by andy@cynic

Fuzzy Felt? You’ll be talking about Play People, BLIP and Astro Wars next.

God I miss those things. Do you know there’s a shitty BLIP app for the iPhone?

Yes, I did get it.

Yes, it made me sentimental.

Yes, it was utterly shit.

Comment by Rob

you sad twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

i fucking love how the twat uses the nyc heart logo as a reference, as if that kangaroo freak shit was in the same league. if that wanker was in charge of nyc tourism design, theyd probably lose the fucking heart claiming its generic and replace it with a fucking hotdog vendor.

every word you say in this post campbell, every fucking word, i agree with and that shocks me as much as it will fucking shock you.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s similar to when agencies reference NIKE even though they’re making a category convention ad for washing powder.

And people still nod their head in agreement rather than wagging their finger in annoyance. Mental!

Comment by Rob

“The funny thing is that while branding companies love to look down on adland and try to take away their revenue, management consultants are now doing the same to branding companies – which begs the question, if they’re so good at branding and marketing, how are they allowing that to happen.”


Excellent read Robert, despite being longer than The Hobbit.

Comment by Bazza

its fucked up super shit karma.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes it is Andy. Seeing someone who stole so many ad agencies lunch, lose out to someone other than us, is super shit karma indeed.

Comment by Rob

the photo you used tor your arnell character assassination actually made me laugh. why the fuck arent you funny anymore?

Comment by andy@cynic

This is such a good post. My issue with what has been produced isn’t so much the $200k fee (though I agree it would be interesting to see what would have been produced if they’d offered that as the “prize” in a design competition) it’s the justification that the purpose of this exercise was to “freshen up” the design.

While they can say the new design has been revamped, I don’t think it has been renewed. In their desire to be more contemporary, they’ve destroyed any sense of personality, as if they are embarrassed to convey any humanity or emotion.

I know you’ve said that before in relation to the Tourism Australia ads, but this logo change really brought it home to me which is why your comment about companies favouring processes that remove the “human factor” are so appealing despite the fact they are universally created to emotionally engage humans.

I would love to see a competition where design and branding companies are tasked with updating and creating logos for famous brands. How would Landor reinterpret Apple. What would Landor do with Nike. It would never happen but if they were truthful, I would expect their “new and improved” identity would be far less impactful and distinctive than they are today.

I agree with Andy, you’re at your best when you’re angry though to be fair to you Rob, you are angry 90% of the time.

Great read.

Comment by Pete

why the fuck am i picturing you masturbating furiously to this post pete? it sure as fuck isnt because im a dirty fuck. my mind needs a fucking acid bath now because of your comment but failing that, an evening spent in the company of mr johnnie black will just have to fucking do.

Comment by andy@cynic

If its any consolation Andy, I don’t like the thought of you having that thought in your head either.

Comment by Pete

like fuck you dont you pervert.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think asking branding companies to refresh/recreate classic brand logos would be fascinating, especially if they had to justify their actions.

I assume you have seen this.


Unfortunately they would view the challenge as a chance to show off their capabilities rather than execute it as they would in a real life working situation, so the ability to highlight their blandness would be lost. Though if their work was good, it would allow you to then ask them why they produce bland horrors like the Tourism Australia logo, so there may be some potential for humiliation in it.

Comment by Bazza

Oh, I’ve just seen my comment about Pete’s idea was already said by Baz – and in a far more engaging, interesting and provoking way. Dammit.

I love that 1984 research video. Of course it was edited to feed adland with the vitriol and distain they have for focus groups … plus I’m guessing the stimulus was deliberately made “dark” … but yes, when you ask people for a rational, focused viewpoint about something they would never give that much attention to in their daily lives, they will always pull out dissected opinion and fault … unless it features a fucking cute baby or puppy.

I had a situation recently with someone that talked about wanting their research to show minimal confusion. I pointed out that means [1] they need Mr Bean to do the ad [2] people wouldn’t buy a product from Mr Bean, at least a good quality, high premium priced product & [3] confusion can also be interpreted as intrigue/interest & a desire to want more – which is surely a good thing.

Obviously we won’t be working together.

Comment by Rob

i hope you hit the sad fuck. if you didnt, you deserve a big fucking kicking yourself.

Comment by andy@cynic

I love that idea Pete. Sadly they wouldn’t approach the challenge as they would with a paying client, but it still would be interesting. Like watching a car crash unfold in front of your eyes.

Though – to be fair – that would be the case if adland was asked to do the same thing. Mad Men is way, way more efficient and decisive than the real thing.

Comment by Rob

Why the fuck would I go to convictland to see a kangaroo? I can see the freak beasts at a zoo. Probably.

Don’t know what this post is about as I haven’t read it but I’m guessing its planning shit that says lots and little at the same time b

Comment by Billy Whizz

I’ve just read Andy’s first comment. Maybe this post isn’t your usual planning shit. When I have a spare 14 hours to read it, I’ll give it a go.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Don’t worry Billy, save your free time for your usual habits of copious drinking and frantic masturbation.

Comment by Rob

its good to see the real evil campbell coming out.

sorry you were the cause/victim of it billy, but you did a good fucking thing getting campbell out of his nicey fucking nice coma for the past 10 years.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m all about doing charitable causes.

I’m sure you know more about wanking than me Rob. You’re married.

Comment by Billy Whizz

nice work billy boy. plus campbell married a woman who might have stupidly say yes to his proposal but would never stoop so low to saying yes to his sexual urges.

fuck me, just typing that makes me fucking ill.

Comment by andy@cynic

Dreaming of Pete and me in sexually compromising situations. Have you seen a Dr about this or should we go straight to calling the Police?

Comment by Rob

dont worry campbell, ive booked myself in for a fucking lobotomy, cant have that shit going on in my head, i have a daughter to look after.

Comment by andy@cynic

Excellent work Robert. That’s all I have to say. Excellent work.

Comment by George

I just clicked through your links to eventually end up at something about Pepsi and gravitational fields. My head hurts more than that time I tried to read AND COMPREHEND that Time Cube website. I demand that you compensate me with paracetomol.

Comment by Shackleford Hurtmore

Don’t blame me, I simply reported how wank it was – Arnell were the idiots that tried to claim it was true.

Comment by Rob

for once i have to defend campbell. that wank wasnt his doing. the good news is arnell got found out, kicked out of the company he started and told his tropicana recreation was utter fucking shit. they kept that pepsi bollocks though didnt they. twats. drink of a new generation? more like the drink for the delusional marketing twathead.

Comment by andy@cynic

I wonder how Tourism Australia would respond to this post.

Comment by Lee Hill

I don’t know. But it’ll take 6 months, $200k and probably involve colours.

Comment by Shackleford Hurtmore

I really wish branding companies were held to account the same way ad agencies are these days I’m well aware they have lost the right to bd taken seriously but at least there are things like the, very flawed, ipa,s and the general need to evaluate performance. Imagine if the twats had to run econometrics on a new logo
That said too many clients seem to think shifting brand scores equals business success so much of the snake oil salesman mentality can laid at their feet too

Comment by Northern


Comment by Thomas

So some wankers came along and ate your lunch, you stupid adland pussies “Waah, waah, we were ripping them off first, they’re our stupid clients, not theirs.” Shit the bed, you make me wanna puke

Comment by Ernest D Huffwanger

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