Earlier this week, the South Australian Government lifted the lid on a new brand for the state created in collaboration with international branding firm, Kato Partners, and Adelaide creative agency kwp!
To say the reaction was mixed would be disingenuous. If a Metacritic score existed for it, it would have an average of 21% based on Adelaide’s reviews. Or to put it bluntly, the natives were really pissed.
There already are a few excellent blog post about the brand (such as Sputnik and Erica Nistico, amongst others) so I won’t bother rehashing what is and isn’t a brand but summarise what I liked and didn’t like about the logo and the brand.
Things I like about Brand South Australia:
- It’s bold, clear and to the point.
- It’s flexible and actually does work in different contexts. Don’t like the colours? Drop in an image that better represents your organisation (if I were still working at Adelaide Uni, a graduation shot of Bonython Hall would be in there so fast).
- They certainly solved the main problem they identified in the research (“no one outside Australia knows where South Australia is”).
- The projection on the Festival Centre was really quite excellent.
- The insights driving the strategy seemed spot on and the methodology thorough.
- I can get on-board with the doorway idea. We already are in some areas (arts, wine, mining) so hopefully we will also aspire to be in others.
Things I don’t like about Brand South Australia:
- The brand values – “Creative. Innovative. Industrious.” – seem hollow and amorphous. While a staple of corporate brand guidelines around the world, in this context, they feel too intangible nor provide direction.
- It looks like it belongs on the Pope (of Chilli Town).
- What happened to Tasmania?
- It’s geared too much at an international audience. South Australians know where South Australia is. Ultimately we need to be the biggest advocates of the brand so it would have been nice if there was something more than a door for us to rally behind much like the oft mentioned Canadian maple leaf.
- That font is really uninspiring.
- The hashtag was confusing. The original, compact #brandsa devised at the media briefing was replaced by the official #brandsouthaustralia which inexplicably gained a few letters before the event was over #brandingsouthaustralia
For me, the verdict is still out. Although I’m not in love with it right now, I can see myself growing to like, even love it, if we as a state becoming the living embodiment of this new brand narrative.
To the Economic Development Board’s credit, the government agency tasked with this mammoth undertaking, they never said a change was going to overnight and it would take time for South Australians to identify with it.
And whether we like it or not, a stake has most clearly been put in the ground that has polarised the state. But as every marketer knows, if what you’re doing doesn’t piss someone off, you’re not doing it right*.
* Hats off to Central Institute TAFE Marketing Director Kenley Gordon for lending me that one from the Social Media in Tertiary Education Conference. I now use it everytime I’m pitching a new idea.
** Also a big shout out to Adelaide City Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood who showed me his socially-enabled calendar i.e. every event in his diary now comes with social media notes including relevant hashtags and the Twitter handles of anyone he’s meeting with.