UK destination branding is big business. An increasing number of regions, towns and cities are creating logo designs that represent what makes them unique. This is not merely good for the areas with the professional tourism brands, either. With more and more people in the UK taking holidays close to home, this offers a range of economical and interesting options.
However, some logos seem to be ill-conceived and poorly designed. To find the latest and most notable example of this, we must mentally move overseas to consider the logo design for Auckland, New Zealand. This logo was created three years ago at the cost of $174,000 New Zealand dollars, which comes out to a little more than 90,000 quid. Clearly this was an expensive failure.
The logo design features an upper case letter A. The edges of the letters appear frayed, and a few spare paint droplets dot the surrounding area. The colour palette is warm and reminiscent of a sunset. The image was part of a larger plan to promote Auckland as an international city. The image was used in a variety of contexts, including in promotions for the Rugby Cup held in the city.
The logo design is attractive and interesting, but it created a great deal of outcry almost from the moment it was introduced. It was called, among other things, appalling, and compared to a ragged pair of jean shorts. The residents of Auckland did not feel that this logo adequately represented their city in any way.
Even worse than the outcry, many people in the city never even noticed it. A recent survey of Auckland residents found that only eighteen per cent even knew about it. That is not the high recognition factor that most people hope for when developing a destination logo. This was the final straw; the logo design was scrapped completely, and the mayor recently announced that Auckland is seeking a new one.
Until a new logo design is developed, the Auckland Council will use the former pohutakawa flower logo, which uses the unusual shape of a plant that is indigenous to the area. There is also some talk of returning to the ‘City of Sails’ brand that was used for more than a decade prior to the introduction of the new logo design, a reference to the city’s waterfront location and huge number of sailboats.
So, where did this destination logo go wrong? The first and most obvious issue is that it does nothing to differentiate the Auckland brand from its competition. Obviously there are many cities that begin with the letter A, and many of these have sunrises or sunsets that tie into this image’s colour scheme. The pohutakawa image and the City of Sails both tie into the city directly, so these would excellent sources of inspiration for a destination brand.
Whatever the Auckland Council selects, it will have to be a budget-friendly design. The city cannot afford any more expensive branding mistakes.