Brand Newcastle was unveiled yesterday and now, just a day later, the usual sniping and cynicism has surfaced.
A read through The Herald comments today would not be a fun experience for the team who created the new logo at Peach Advertising or the civic leaders who commissioned the branding. But perhaps everyone should take a breath and look at the bigger picture here.
Branding is a very subjective exercise, everyone has an opinion (after its done) and rarely do you see a rush of positive feedback on a new logo. A few weeks ago Virgin Australia launched its new branding by one of the leading Australian designer Hans Hulsbosch. Immediately the advertising and design industry dissected the work with similar bitchiness to what we’re seeing today for Brand Newcastle. I remember Qantas receiving the same treatment for their recent brand revamp.
The point is that a design team is always on a hiding to nothing with these exercises and there will always be a critical audience ready to tear anything new like this down. There were plenty of critics of the Sydney Opera House when it was first announced but today it is possibly Australia most iconic symbol.
Whether you love it or hate it, I believe that Newcastle Council and Peach should be commended for their efforts in trying to put Newcastle back on the map. A brand or logo doesn’t solve every issue in town but its a starting point, a rallying call for some civic pride and an identity beyond the Hunter.
A brand is also something that is more accepted over time as people become more used to it. There are plenty of case studies of brands that weren’t universally loved upon launch but have become ubiquitous since.
Much of the complaint I have heard stems from the price tag of $88,000. The first thing to understand is that this wasn’t the fee for an artist to sketch out a colorful logo in a few minutes. Its part of a bigger picture to be used in many ways for a long time. By national and international standards $88,000 isn’t a big bill for professional branding. The process is much more involved than you might expect.
Would local residents prefer that we allocate $5000 for a brand to represent our city and to speak to the world? Are we that insecure about our place in the world that we don’t believe our city deserves a decent budget for our brand?
In a town where leaders are usually scared to make bold decisions due to the vocal minority, I hope that Newcastle City Council moves forward with the branding and makes strong statement. If this is going to be our brand, then embrace it and say it loud.
I think the new Newcastle logo should be installed in big letters on Dyke Point at Carrington facing back to the city. It’d be one of the first things cruise ships will see when they sail into Newcastle Harbour and be constantly visible from the Honeysuckle foreshore. In years to come it could be considered with Nobby’s Lighthouse as an iconic symbol of Newcastle.
Its time for Novocastrians to show the world that we are a proud and confident city. Let’s not be defined by our insecurities and petty gripes.