The new Labour Party logo

A number of you have solicited my opinion about the new Malta Labour Party logo. The symbol seems to have generated quite a bit of interest judging by the number of comments on the Times of Malta web site. In this post, I will examine this topic and address the appropriate issues.

I won’t comment on the aesthetics of the new symbol, as I feel this is irrelevant. Logo design is not about ‘sexy graphics’, its purpose is to identify and (to a lesser extent) communicate, rather than decorate. Instead I will focus on the process used to commission the work – which in my opinion was flawed.

Using a ‘creative cattle-call’ to commission an identity for an important institution like the Labour Party signals contempt for the creative industry. Nothing quite demonstrates this as well as luring creative types into donating their work for free, paying what you want to pay for one (as opposed to the designer’s going rate) and keeping the rest of the entries. Furthermore, this does not seem like an efficient way of rewarding a sector that contributes millions to Malta’s economy and is bound to have many worried about the Labour Party’s vision for our industry.

Let’s forget about the rights and wrongs of it for a minute. In order for crowd sourcing to function, one must assume that the crowd contains the necessary talent to get the job done. The reality is that in Malta, even amongst people that are invested in the creative process, the pool of talent successfully creating this kind of work is very small. This is to be expected. How many truly great tenors, stand up comedians, actors and ballet dancers can be found on the island? Expecting Malta to have a surplus of brilliant, charismatic creatives is unrealistic to say the least.

Even if we assume an abundance of amazing talent, the process used would still have been flawed. You see, contrary to popular belief, any successful communications project does not begin with creativity. Creativity is a capacity for coming at problems in new ways and perceiving connections that others might miss. In order to facilitate this process, creativity must be fed by intelligence about existing beliefs and how you would like to alter them.

The submissions document for this exercise did not indicate anywhere near enough information to feed this process. It did specify that the new logo needed to retain the torch (from the old logo) as a key element. Surely this isn’t the best way to communicate change (I’m assuming this is why a new logo was required)?

Without clear messaging objectives, I’m curious about how the final selection was judged. According to the submissions document, the chosen identity had to make it through two different committees.

Ouch!

Think about all the truly great ideas that are generated in the world. Do they come from crowds? No, quite the opposite. Generally, crowds fear new ideas and take a long time to adopt/recognise them. Assuming that any of the submitted solutions were excellent, filtering them through 2 different committees and a round of SMS voting guarantees a superficial result based on personal preferences rather than substance and appropriateness.

The purpose of a committee is to make important decisions by sharing responsibilty between members. Since nobody is soley responsible, the burden of consequence of the work becomes diluted and the result is usually the lowest common denominator, rather than the optimum solution.

Creative professionals take on a responsibility to develop this type of work and must be competent enough to be accountable for it. The success of projects like this require the same responsibility on the client side. When only one side of the client/designer relationship is behaving responsibly, the work will have little chance of success.

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If you have an opinion about this, we’d love to hear from you (please use our comments form). We’re all for subjectivity but not at the expense of courtesy, respect and good manners – please keep this in mind.

4 Comments

Michael Azzopardi 28th, January 2011

I agree with this article. I have followed this story closely on the Times of Malta website. Certain comments were sweeping and baseless, as expected. The process used was very rarely discussed, and this I believe, is the weakest point in the new MLP brand.

I also found that this was a good example of how local clients fear change. Change, bold and unexpected design is still not considered enough.

Well written.

I also enjoyed your work throughout the site. Some great concepts living here.

Good work!
Michael Azzopardi

Martin Wardener 6th, February 2011

Second that, Ren. Well put. :)

Darren Abela 26th, April 2011

Excellent commentary Ren!

Looking from the outside as a Maltese ‘ex-pat’, I see the unfortunate results of this futile exercise as a reflection of the hardcore elements of Maltese society who continue to pay lip-service to real progress.

I know designing a symbol of such national significance is almost always a thankless task either way, but this commission appears to be driven by very little purpose or substance. How is this going to represent change other than a front of house paint job?

Saying that, maybe it is sublimely perfect in its naive honesty? This mark may have truly captured the very essence of it’s subject – warts and all.

DA

Ren Spiteri 26th, April 2011

Hey Darren,
thanks for your comment. I have to agree about it being a thankless task – especially with strong partisan feelings thrown into the mix.

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