We must support the group appointed to brand London

It looks as though the debacle over the mooted London identity is finally reaching a conclusion. If, as sources suggest, the seasoned city-branding team at Saffron Brand Consultants is appointed, we can be assured of a thorough approach and a good outcome.

But confusion still surrounds the process by which the Greater London Authority arrived at its decision. Why, for example, were we led to believe earlier on in the exercise that the contest was down to two contenders/ Conran & Partners and Dragon Rouge? And why has it taken this long, when the branding was originally due to launch next month?

Whatever the outcome of the latest stage in the proceedings, there will no doubt be public furore once the branding is launched. The marque itself or the cost of implementation will be singled out in yet another media witch hunt. It would be good if this time the design industry was poised to explain the value of good branding ahead of the row, rather than duck the issue once it is raging.

It would help if public-sector procurement of design was on a steadier footing, and if organisations such as the GLA and the Mayor of London’s Office brought in design champions to instigate effective design management. That way we can expect a short, but rigorous tendering process and the right outcome for the job.

The same is true in other UK cities, with only Manchester having a visible design head in Peter Saville. Having committed, but independent input can help public authorities grasp the power of design and co-ordinate its application. Spanish star Javier Mariscal’s inspired branding of
So far, the bid to rebrand London hasn’t shown much promise in this respect.

But let us hope that once Saffron – or whoever wins the job – is ensconced, it is allowed to do its best and gains the support of politicians and the media. A positive response from the industry would be a good start.


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