• Emily Lutz

Logo Disaster - $100K got them what???

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

It was reported last month, that Australia’s Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) underwent a re-branding process which cost over $100,000. The internet and Australian tax payers are losing their minds - not only about the cost but also the end result.

So how does that happen? The logos are practically identical - different font, scaled differently, but more-or-less the same.

My two-cents...

I've seen many people online bashing the design firm for their work, but I have a slightly different take. I think it boils down to design by committee (design by government committee at that). There's a direct correlation between the number of people involved in a design project and creativity. The more people involved, the less creative things get. I can only imagine what the re-branding process would be like when 10-20 (or more) government people get involved. It's just really tough to please a room full of bureaucrats and people hate change!

Same thing, different place...

Thing is, it happens all the time. I won't name the actual city in this example, but here's the scenario. A city tourism office in Texas wanted to go through a re-branding process. They hired an outside company to come in and talk to local stakeholders and get a feel for what everyone thought about the city. The end result was the most generic thing possible and it cost them close to $100,000 for the entire process. Why did that happen? They were trying to please everyone they ended up pleasing no one. The committee settled on the most vanilla option because it's impossible to get a room full of diverse people to come to a consensus.

Old OK plate on top, new OK plate on bottom

Another example

I recently lived in Oklahoma for a few years and at that time they changed their license plate from a Native American theme to a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Oklahoma state bird). It was the result of a very long (governmental) process, and people freaked out about the new plates. While I personally liked them, many people said they were ugly, that they couldn't tell what the image was, and that it didn't actually look like a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

I imagine it's hard to come up with something that represents an entire state, but people really did not like it! Watch a local news report about the license plates.

Blame it on too many cooks in the kitchen...

What's the takeaway here? If you're going to start on a big branding or design project, try to limit the people involved. Have a small core group of people that understand the project and understand your business vision. Hire a design team that fits your aesthetic, and then trust those experts to lead you though the process. But please, whatever you do, do not involve your entire board of directors or your entire management team in a big creative project or you just might find yourself thousands of dollars out of pocket for a logo that is nearly identical to what you started with!