Thursday, October 05, 2006

Branding - long and painful

The way government has introduced this wordmark has really made too much of what's really not much at all.

On one side, this wordmark (and it really is a wordmark and not a logo and definitely not a brand) is rather bland to my eye but it's not really so bad and will not rank the this government's greatest policy blunder.

It certainly will not cause cancer. Nor create massive unemployment, nor depopulate towns, nor shut down industries, nor stop offshore development in its tracks.

That's not the problem at all.

The problem for this government is that it won't *cure* cancer either. Nor will it be the magic bullet to generate new investment, jobs, tourism, jump-start oil development, reverse population migration or in any way cause a sea change in internal provincial psychological attitudes.

After all, if a wordmark was all there was to doing that then I'm sure some government somewhere, no doubt backed by those clever marketers at the CIA or DARPA, would have succeeded at this kind of radical psycho-social engineering years ago. In fact even those respected institutions never came up with an effective means of achieving those goals that did not involved the addition of LSD to the water supply.

And that's the problem - governing is hard, especially in this province. It's much harder than just issuing a wordmark because governing means taking hard decisions and making hard choices.

And since government can't resist puffing up this trivial wordmark matter into some kind of second coming, it opens itself to ridicule. That's not helped by the fact that the overall popular response can most charitably described as indifferent, if not worse.

Last night, one government minister (I missed the name) on Night Line with the ever charming Linda Swain said that "in 20 years this brand will be everywhere".

Minister, in 20 years we will be on our 5th or so brand after this one. You know the one: it will be a 3D hologram that plays music with embedded AI that can answer any tourism, economic or trivia question with a custom interface for each person based on biometric data derived from a deep-scan of face and clothes.

In this internet age the brand should available be around the world in 20 *minutes*. But so far Google News returns exactly one hit when searching "Newfoundland brand". It's a CP wire story apparently reprinted by a few papers across the country with a headline that's some variant of "Meat-eating plant the new '‘face' of Newfoundland."

Most of these stories don't actually show the wordmark.

My apologies - it might take 20 years after all.

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