At the beginning of the month, Boris Johnson announced a hunt for agencies to create a brand for London. It’s worth £600,000, and over this coming week, the proposals are due, and there will be two rounds of selection, including the Promote London Council, a committee of 20.
One interesting response, from Moving Brands, is to blog their thought process. It’s a pretty standard brand exploration, which you don’t often see in public: posing necessary questions, a terrible idea or two and graphic design thoughts. There’s also a precis of the brief. Whlist a lot of the work focusses on the problem of a masterbrand, they’ve also enlisted Scott Thomas to think about a bigger idea (I don’t think they should be snipy about the 2012 logo, though).
I worry that the Mayor wants a logo, or a strapline – even an iconic one, like Milton Glaser’s I love NY
or even something closer to home
Getting an iconic logo or strapline from a pitch process is akin to winning the lottery. Think of all the cities in the world, and how few you associate with a design. Whilst a good design or idea can be a starting point, the real work is in execution.
I remember Glasgow’s miles better because they emblazoned it on London buses for 20 years. I love New York works because every street vendor has had knock-off merchandise available for 30 years (mostly with the cheeky registered mark symbol).
London’s hard to logo. It’s a sprawling undefined area, filled with every one and every thing (and paradoxically, this is why London works). There’s no great iconic skyline. All we have, that’s pretty uncontroversial, and representative of past, present and future, is the Thames.
Whilst I love the Thames dearly, it’s hardly the looker. It looks more like a fete steady hand game than an icon of a city. However, I feel Kit Grover has done as good a job as possible in the Thames Pin for the super contemporary exhibition.
So if you’re not going to get an iconic logo, and we’re not going to throw Paddington Bear or Dick Whittington’s Cat on it, what can be done?
Well, the current typographic logo, is ok. Not good, not bad. Boring, though.
It’s hardly used. One problem is that the mayor isn’t in charge of most things in London – that’s down to individual councils, or the Government. So we can’t just impose a logo. So why not do the opposite?
Give the logo away. Let street hawkers use it. Let councils use it. Let companies use it. Let it be remixed, mangled, reworked. Don’t be precious.
One exception: every body under the mayor’s remit has to use it in their sub-brand. Visit London, Story of London, Green London, Walk London, Totally London, Film London, Think London, London Innovation, Promote London, London Development Agency – whatever; if the Mayor or Assembly pay for it, the logo should incorporate the London logo. Fix the type, weight, spacing, direction and all caps, let the colour be adaptable. I’d even go as far as saying that Transport for London should use it, in their main logo at least.
Make a commitment to keep the logo. Try to break the new mayor, new logo cycle. Review the logo after 15 years.
More important than use within London is use elsewhere. What’s the modern version of media buying? Product placement. Let Rimmel use the logo (and Boris) for their Get The London Look adverts. Pump money into songs and music videos that feature London and the London brand (It’s a London Thing, London Acid City, Nothing Can Save Us, London, Looking Down on London – weirdly brash, bold, proud tunes from the late 90s), games (remake The Getaway: where’s Grand Theft Auto Croydon?). Do a Eurostar and pay for a film. Rather than pay councils to remove graffiti and flyposters, get them to stencil the London logo over the top. Get the idea of London into the world first, with the logo ambiently reminding in the background.
I suspect neither the winner nor the implementation will be so bold. The pitch process seems designed to filter out edgy ideas, and I worry we’ll be left with another EPS decaying on a CD-R stuck in a filing cabinet.
You might find Liverpool’s crappy branding attempts (post-Capital of Culture) amusing: http://www.liverpoolcitybrand.co.uk/
I don’t think anyone up here likes the logo or the typeface.
No great iconic skyline? I refer you to every Hollywood movie ever set here, with its composite shot of the Houses of Parliament, St Pauls and Tower Bridge—and latterly the Eye.
We have buildings, but not a skyline – the Thames is too bendy and the few tall buildings are spaced out. Certainly the upcoming skyscrapers don’t have iconic silhouettes. The Think London logo is about as good as you’re going to get, and it’s a bit fussy.
Certainly the upcoming skyscrapers don’t have iconic silhouettes
Huh? What about the Shard of Glass, The Gherkin, or Canary Wharf? They’re all sufficient signifiers of London.
Regarding the logo, surely London already has a de facto brand, which is the Roundel for the London Underground. This features on t-shirts and merchandise in a thousand souvenier stalls around the city, in precisely the I♥NY way you applaud.
Indeed, the current Mayor of LondON logo seems to reference the Roundels already.
email: chris is at anti-mega.com