Will Victoria’s New Brand Identity Hit The Mark?
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews today released a new brand mark for Victoria with a matching sister mark for Melbourne. Mr Andrews told the media; “The new Brand Victoria and Brand Melbourne will replace a patchwork of confusing and disparate branding, with a tourism and marketing campaign to go alongside the new logo. The Premier said the branding was about finding a new way to sell Victoria’s strengths. He said it represented a “fundamental shift” in attracting investment, improving services and creating jobs. Having long scratched our heads at the plethora of brand marks that have bloomed like algae in recent years to represent every different facet of Victoria and the city of Melbourne, the strategy behind this re-design to simplify and clarify gets a huge thumbs-up. The execution of the place-brand identity design on the other hand leaves me uninspired to say the least.
In my experience place brand identity design rates as the toughest of challenges for even a specialist identity design agency. Capturing the essence and spirit of a place is a succinct visual statement is no easy feat, but place branding also requires the pacification of a range of business, tourism, Government and local business stakeholders with competing interests. Add into the mix that place branding processes are highly emotionally charged and you have a headache waiting to happen.
When the place brand identity is seen as an element of a broader campaign and given to a generalist advertising agency who claim be “experts in all areas of marketing communications and operate across every medium”, the likelihood of achieving the optimum brand identity solution is going to be significantly lower than if designed by a specialist brand agency. The new Victoria brand identity has been designed by advertising agency Ogilvy Australia. It is part of a marketing and advertising campaign that Premier Daniel Andrews estimated could cost up to $20 million, with a budget for the brand identity design of $220,000.
We are passionate proponents of investing in brand. As recent research has clearly demonstrated; brands that invest in clear and differentiated brand positioning and well designed identity produce a seven times greater return than advertising alone, and headlines of ‘$20 million dollar budgets’ don’t help the cause of sensible, considered discussion on the ROI of brand identity. And whilst a $220,000 budget would place this brand project in the absolute most expensive category (it’d sure buy a hell of a lot of design and strategy integrity around here), without understanding the extent to which stakeholder and market research, strategy and implementation absorbed the dollars, it’s impossible to judge how reasonable or not the budget is.
For me the question is all about return on investment; how successfully does this identity capture the spirit of Victoria (and Melbourne) in a manner that inspires and excites tourism markets whilst re-assuring and building confidence for business markets here and abroad? And this is where the brand mark falls short – short on personality and originality, short on mystery, magic and story telling for tourists, short on sophistication, professionalism and innovation for business, but most of all sorely; short on inspiration.
I’ve no doubt this would have been a demanding brief with tough clients and a mess of competing stakeholders, but it was always going to be that way, and as such should have been handled by a specialist brand identity agency with the weighting of relevant experience, skills and talent to create something we could all be proud to promote.
The sister place brand mark of Melbourne