The British Tourist Authority identity launched this week has met with strong criticism from the design industry.
“It’s like a Dad’s Army poster,” says Interbrand creative director Chris Lightfoot of Real Time Studio’s design. “British design is among the best in the world. The identity is promoting design abroad, but I couldn’t stand under it with pride.”
He says Spain’s Joan Miro logo set the standard: “It took a different view of what Spanish meant, leaving the national flag for other uses.” The BTA “block” will, he says, be “inflexible” in use.
Richard Ford, Landor executive creative director, is “disappointed that we’re just recycling the Union flag” and missing “the nature of what we have to offer”. But, says Fiona Gilmore, managing director of Springpoint, which has worked for two years with the BTA to establish Britain’s brand values, research showed the flag is “by far the most resonant icon” of Britain overseas.
The new marque cost 160 000, according to BTA chairman David Quarmby. The flag appears as a “brushstroke”, but the “Great” has been dropped from Britain, which appears in Destination, a typeface developed by Real Time. “Simplicity was the essence,” says BTA chief executive Anthony Sell, “and ease of communication”.
The aim was to portray Britain as “an island of contrasts”. Colour is key, says Real Time Studio creative director Trevor Chambers. The red represents England, blue Scotland, green Wales and yellow London. The colours overlap to “represent the diverse cultures”, says Chambers, but can be used separately as a backdrop to the country or city name for signs, T-shirts and other applications.
Real Time also created a screen animation for the launch and is devising the BTA’s own identity, to be unveiled in November.