Does the flag referendum leave you feeling just a little underwhelmed? Regardless of your position, the whole debate is a good heads-up on the dangers of not following good design process when it comes to choosing your brand. Can our nation's brand be saved?
Our usual brand design process wouldn't have led you to this point. The flag referendum is a branding project, but it hasn't followed the normal design process, and you don't have the choices that you normally would.
Our first step in designing a brand is to determine (through a workshop process) the message that we want to communicate. Then the second step is to go away and do some designing, and present a range of initial options that distinctively reflect that message. It feels a bit like we're at that stage now, but there are two crucial differences. We didn't go through the first step before starting on the second. And we aren't able to say 'I don't love any of them - go back and try again'.
The third step in brand design is refinement, and that's missing in the Flag Consideration Project. If our clients don't feel a resonance with any of the options we present, we have a productive discussion about it. Is the message not correct, or did we not capture it? Are we on track, but you just don't like them? That happens. We talk it over and try again.
Usually a client sees at least one option that is on the right track, but often there's something that doesn't feel quite right. The fern is good, but it's a bit too bobbly. The koru is distinctive, but the black makes us look like pirates. We can discuss it, refine and improve.We can't do that this time.
Which means that, no, the flag project might just be beyond saving. However, we need to put aside what could have been or should have been. Like it or not, you will be branded by the results of this process. We have a choice of four. Make the best of it.
Four, although we're presented with five, because two of them are the same. Fortunately, in the 'Get to know the five flags ..' brochure the two Kyle Lockwood options are positioned at the ends. I recommend folding one of them away. When you look at all five together, they all look the same because two of them are. If you look at just four options, the choice is much more clear.
How to choose?
Look at the example pictures in the brochure, showing it on a backpack, in a crowd, on a flagpole, in among other flags.
Which makes your heart sink the least?
Choose that one.
By the way, my submission was here and shown above. It didn't make it to the first cut, unfortunately - it probably needs a fern on it.