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‘We deserve the best’: Graphic artists weigh in on controversial government logos

by RepublicAsia

There is one thing Filipinos know all too well: underwhelming government logos.

Recently, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) came under fire after it was revealed that it spent P3 million from public funds for its new logo, which was launched during its 40th founding anniversary celebration on July 11. 

According to the logo’s description, which was read during the event, it ”incorporates the element of fire, associated with energy, inspiration, passion, and transformation.”

”It symbolizes the flame that ignites change and drives progress.”

However, a number of people thought it was ugly, a downgrade from the old one, and reminded them of the logos of some companies.

Before this latest controversy, the country had witnessed government logo revisions and rebranding that sparked heated discussions online. 

On June 27, the Department of Tourism (DOT) was criticized for ditching the multi-awarded slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.’’ They replaced it with “Love the Philippines,” which wasn’t received well. 

On top of that, the promotional video was found to contain stock clips of other countries’ tourist spots. Amid public uproar, DDB Philippines, the ad agency  behind the video, apologized, while the DOT moved for the termination of its contract with the firm. 

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco stated that the logo, the slogan, and the whole campaign cost P49 million. 

In 2020, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) drew flak when it underwent a rebrand. The new logo features a sleek and minimalist eagle head logo with a complete-bodied, 3D-rendered golden eagle, which many said is similar to other brands.

Business news website Bilyonaryo reported that a staggering P52.5 million was spent on BSP’s rebranding. While the BSP denied this since it tapped in-house talents for the logo design, netizens thought the public funds spent on the redesign were excessive, especially at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) logo also drew the ire of many Filipinos. The Philippines was the host of the biennial multi-sport event that year.

The logo contains interlinked circles—representing the 11 Southeast Asian nations—forming the shape of the Philippines. 

Social media was swarmed with negative feedback, and some graphic designers posted their own  designs.

Graphic designers’ views

Every time a controversial logo trends online, it seems the netizens’ inner graphic designer gets unleashed. The online world would be filled with people’s opinions on what makes great art. 

For this article, republicasia asked two seasoned graphic designers for their views on the issue.

Kristoffer Panes is an Iloilo-based freelance graphic designer with 10 years of experience in corporate graphic design, 3D asset creation, and user experience work. He is a computer science graduate of UP Visayas, making him part developer and part artist. And this has given Kristoffer an edge in several international design competitions.

Kristoffer has won the following: first  place at the 2005 TopCoder Open Logo Contest on the International Level, and the first prize in the high school category of the 2002 Second Young Web Designers’ Awards, which earned him a P100,000 cash prize from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

When asked why he thinks the new PAGCOR logo was criticized, Kristoffer answered, “There are a couple of reasons why it may have been received negatively. One is that the elements may have needed more explanation on what they were or why they were shaped that way.” He said the elements weren’t easily understandable.

Kristoffer thinks the world has now matured in terms of design so that the majority knows what constitutes a good logo and what to look for in order to consider a logo a good one.

Giovanni Roldan thought the new logo’s shape and colors resembled those of an oil company. 

‘’Also, the main element is incomprehensible. I’m confused about what it represents, he added.

Giovanni is the senior art director of a production company established in 1999 that covers a wide range of services, including TVCs, corporate videos, TV programs, multimedia presentations, and event management.

How to design an effective and attractive logo

Giovanni, who thought the new PAGCOR logo wasn’t distinct, said, “First of all, when designing a logo, make sure it does not resemble any existing ones in terms of shape, elements, and fonts. If at first glance it looks like a certain company or any other logo, that means you might be doing it wrong.” 

“If you’re designing a symbol or an emblem for a company, make sure it’s simple, comprehensive, and, as much as possible, embodies the ideals and/or service that company provides. Corporate logos should be elegant and minimalist. The best examples of these are Microsoft and PayPal logos. If adding an abstract element as an emblem, make sure you explain the meaning of it clearly and why it represents the company.’’

With 30 years of experience in logo design, Giovanni learned that the best logos are the ones that people can easily draw on beach sand. 

“If you can draw the logo on sand, then you might be onto something,’’ Giovanni said.

Kristoffer believes an effective logo is clear and readable in any medium, format, or size while embodying the values, mission, vision, and “burning passion” of that organization or company. 

“It should be easily recognized and attributed to what it represents. Imagine the Nike Swoosh. Any size, anywhere, you know it’s Nike,’’ he said. 

“In terms of aesthetics, it should be creative, sleek, and have a ‘wow factor.’ It should be smart, utilizing elements, even negative space, really well. There should be harmony and flow within the elements,” he added.

Kristoffer said these are the factors to consider when designing logos:

  • The mission, vision, and what the company, individual, or organization that the logo stands for. It should represent the brand.
  • The logo should be readable anywhere and in whatever size. It should also work well in color and black and white.
  • The elements should be extendable for creative use. For example, the three stripes in the Adidas logo are usually used on the full length of their track pants. Even from far away,  you know it’s Adidas.
  • The typography should be timeless.
  • It should give the viewer the feeling that the brand wants to convey – if you see a Rolls Royce, you know everything about it is elegant. You want it. If you see Apple, it’s hip. You want the product.

When the new PAGCOR logo started gaining attention online, Kristoffer posted his own remake of the logo. The post has already garnered thousands of shares and likes on Facebook. 

“You can have this for free, PAGCOR,” he wrote in the post.

Waste of taxpayers’ money?

When asked if they thought it was necessary to change it in the first place, the two graphic designers had different answers. 

“If PAGCOR’s logo needs an upgrade to be more corporate and comprehensible,then yes, I guess it’s necessary to give it a facelift,’’ Giovanni said. 

However, the P3 million budget, he expressed, is preposterous.

Kristoffer thinks the old PAGCOR logo was timeless and that there was no need to change it.

“But perhaps the most significant factor that contributed to the backlash was the price for it that was circulating around,” he said. 

Giovanni said news like this gives graphic artists a poor image. 

“It would just show them that we are just in it for the money, not the design itself,’’ he said. 

“They thought that if we were paid a large sum, we’d be doing a great job at designing something, but in this case, the designer did not do his job well but still got paid big,” he added. 

“The designers would just slack off and not do good art because they’d think that they’d still get paid even if they just did a mediocre design. Then the clients would just shortchange the designers and artists because they would now think that it’s not worth paying more for a mediocre design,’’ he said, referring to what could happen after the logo issue.

When asked about the impact of graphic design on society, Kristoffer told republicasia, “Graphic design is a big part of our society. As I have mentioned, how a person interprets a brand, and how they will behave towards a product of that brand is greatly determined by how the branding was made and how the elements were designed.”

“There are a lot of very talented Filipinos in the creative space, and we Filipinos know what good design is. Our creative countrymen have already spoiled us with really good designs that have made waves internationally, so we know what good design is.”

The visual artist guarantees that there are a lot of talented Filipinos in the creative space. 

“Our creative countrymen have already spoiled us with really good designs that have made waves internationally,” he said, adding that Filipinos know what a good design is.

As to why bad graphic designs trigger such reactions from Filipinos, Kristoffer said, “We deserve to have the best designs, especially when they represent our government, a part of our government, and us.” 

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