Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A Tale of Branding

For many years I live and worked in the suburb of Ashfield in the Municipality of Ashfield. 

The Municipality covered the suburbs of Ashfield, Summer Hill, Haberfield and part of Croydon. My office is still in Ashfield although I now reside in Marrickville.

I mention this because Ashfield Municipality, established in 1871, was granted its own coat of arms in 1983 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, College of Arms. That means it wasn’t just something copied off a men’s cologne box, it was the real deal, resulting from a visit for Scottish week in 1982 by Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw (Chief of the Clan Agnew), who suggested that the Council pursue the granting of a Coat of Arms based on its early associations with Robert Campbell, an early landowner who named his estates "Ashfield Park", which gave the council its name. He was subsequently commissioned to design the arms and this is what he came up with: 

The motto is AGITE PRO VIRIBUS ("Act according to your strength"), the coat of arms being based on that of Robert Campbell. Campbell was also the titular laird of Ashfield. 

Okay, not an earth shattering logo but okay in its way and it was proudly displayed, as on the Council Chambers: 

Then the Powers That Be became restless. I have no knowledge of who these PTB are, anonymous faceless people who obviously don’t subscribe to the adage that if it ain’t broke, there is no need to fix it. The PTB decided that change was needed, that there should be a new logo. 

From memory, in 2008 the Council paid $12,000 for the new logo and branding: 

According to the Ashfield Council website: 
The logo is described as an "urban map" and is a stylised representation of the range of urban forms and structures in the Ashfield Local Government Area. The cluster of irregular shapes is a reference to the eclectic mix of communities within our Inner West municipality - a collection of cultures built up over time. The colour palette reflects the rich, warm and lively aspects of our unique and multicultural community. Residents may recognise some of the icons. 

I was present at the Council meeting which debated whether to adopt the logo, and I recall one councillor, who was opposed, describing it as looking like someone had thrown up a pizza with beetroot on the footpath. 

That logo and branding was adopted and remained in use until the NSW Government compulsorily merged a stack of councils. The Inner West Council was formed by the merger of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils on 12 May 2016. 

Just as the merger had been forced, so was the logo and branding: 

The logo is of the area covered by the Council which, in its PC wisdom, has given the wards indigenous names that no one remembers: 

An alternative map: 

The logo and branding was used on Council vehicles, letterhead and the like: 

The Council website states that the logo and branding were only ever intended to be temporary.  So far as I know there was no dissatisfaction, except amidst the PTB. They wanted a new logo, a new branding, a new image . . . 

From the Council’s website 

That new logo was unveiled yesterday. Drum roll please, part the red velvet curtain, drop the cover sheet . . . 

I have heard a figure of $80,000 mentioned as the amount paid to the consultants who came up with the design. If anyone wishes to contradict that and give me proof of an alternative figure I will post a correction. 

Here are some pics of parts of the Council website, using the new logo: 

Also from the Council website . . . 

From the PTB, whilst the rebranding project was in progress: 
. . . extensive visioning work and engagement has been undertaken by Council staff with the Inner West community, stakeholders and staff to develop Council’s brand strategy and framework. We received input from 7000 people to this point and the outcome of the engagement identified key components in the brand development including vision, principles, brand attributes, personality, audience and sense of place. Now it is time to create a new corporate visual identity which reflects the Inner West community. 
Contrary views from members of the public when the project was proposed and different concepts were aired, here are some:

What say you, dear readers?

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