The new DA Logo will defy critics

Right upfront, I’ll state for the record that the Democratic Alliance is a client of ours: World Wide Creative is currently redesigning a kickass new DA website, due to be live early 2009. The current site was designed by the DA team in a hurry to get it live before the relaunch. It is a placeholder, contrary to some premature reports yesterday.

On Saturday, the ‘New DA’ was launched with much fanfare in Johannesburg, broadcast live on SABC 3 and posted on Zoopy for your internet viewing pleasure. Immediately, there was a lot of negative noise about the new DA logo.

In response, I’ll state my case: I think the new logo rocks.

In my opinion, it fulfills exactly what a good visual identity is supposed to do. It is timeless and versatile. It stands apart from its competitors and it’s instantly recognisable. It’s also very well composed aesthetically.

Obviously I have a little more insight into the reasoning behind it, but I’ll share some of the rationale here.

  • The colours sugggest the South African flag, since the DA’s mission is to become ‘of the people, for the people’.
  • The lines suggest a landscape, much like the diverse landscape of our country, and of our politics.
  • The radiating lines suggest the rising of the sun, a new dawn for the party, and for the South African people.

For a more detailed analysis click here.

The main criticism of the logo has been that it resembled winning candidate Barack Obama’s election logo. Whether the designers were subconsciously inspired by a truly inspirational campaign is another debate, but consider the following:

  • The rationale for the new logo is the DA’s own. It’s inspired by the DA audience – an audience which, in many ways, happens to mirror Obama’s.
  • The new logo is not too dissimilar from the old DA logo, also circular with the DA colours – although radically out of date. The introduction of the flag was something that was also briefed to our team for the look n’ feel of the site layout.

Those that have stated that the logo will always be placed alongside Barack Obama’s must remember that the election logo is effectively redundant once Obama takes office (the presidential logo takes its place).

In closing, I think we must remember that a logo, while vitally important in creating a visual device to separate from the pack, lives and dies with the message behind it. The DA message is strong, bold and distinctive. I believe that the new logo embodies this, and it will defy its critics. It will work its way into the public’s hearts, in the same way that the SA flag did.

Anyone remember the outrage when that design first came out?

33 thoughts on “The new DA Logo will defy critics

  1. Great post and great logo. A true representation of our country and diverse culture. I wonder what Mr Obama would say if he saw this logo.

    Maybe we should get him to offer his views via video conferencing at a future Heavy Chef. Perhaps we can get Helen involved as well.

  2. I don’t think I have ever seen a company rebrand without taking some flack for it – Pick n Pay, Xerox, 2010 logo, SA Flag, SAA, Pepsi, 2012 olympics (ok, bad example – it will always be a pathetic logo, but you get the point)

    One thing that does always happen is that after everyone has had their 2c thrown into the paddle pond they get used to it and eventually embrace it.

    This is just a storm in a tea-cup. One thing is for sure, the storm that the DA are going to cook up with their new site and 2009 election campaign is going to shake up the SA political scene BIG TIME! And I for one cant wait!

  3. Top class post Fred. Great response. Although I do see the resemblance and I feel as if it was a hard one to miss, at the end of it all who cares? Who cares if it slightly resembles someones logo (President Elect) at one point or another for a campaign that changed history.

    It will most definitely not be scoffed at if the DA can turn a new logo and brand in to action in the political game. That is the test for me.

    Because even though there is a new logo and brand, it’s still Helen Zille at the helm so she best start rolling with her logo and the punches of a new dawn! :)

  4. “Right Said Fred”.

    Helen’s description on the zoopy insert confirms not only a new dawn for the DA but also in South Africa’s democracy.

    “There is nothing magical about change, it is getting up of your ass and caring enough to take the first step to contribute to change on an issue you care about.” – Jody Williams – Nobel Prize Winner – 1997

  5. I think that the new logo is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to these much vaunted DA sites going live.

    That said, wherever I look a find the logo slightly unclear. I would like to see a PNG or GIF or even high quality JPEG version that doesn’t show obvious lossy compression.

  6. A logo. fine. But they still offer very little to the voter. then again in the landscape that is our political arena is drier than a nuns …well you know the rest.

    Nice logo though.

  7. I don’t really have a problem with the logo. It’s almost impossible to have a 100% original logo/design/idea now days. If you launched it six months from now, it is likely nobody would have aligned it to Obama.

    What really bugs me is the poor quality of the flag on the homepage of the temporary site. It cheapens the overall impact (Time to chase your designers with a wip).

    Looking forward to seeing the final site…

  8. I’m sorry but I’ll have to disagree here with Fred’s critique of the logo.

    It’s not timeless: the drop shadow, the skewed badge and the graduated sky very much confine it to the design fads of the last few years.

    It’s not versatile: the paleness of the blue gradient means it struggles to be seen at small sizes (although I imagine alternate logos have been designed for various applications).

    It’s not well composed aesthetically: there’s no good reason to skew the badge; the typeface for ‘DA’ speaks more to mid-90’s ISP’s than to a political party; and the overall arrangement of the elements and their relative proportions are off-balance.

    Granted, we’ll all get past this and live with this logo as we have with others. But that’s usually more a case of accepting than embracing a bad logo.

    It’s a pity the DA haven’t got a better standard to bear, especially in comparison with the slick and well-produced ANC posters I’ve been seeing lately…

  9. I agree with Jonno, although not as eloquently, but I’m just a bit “whatever” about the logo. We’ll all get used to it and so that’s that.

    What is interesting is that Fred seems to have learnt a bit of spin from his client. Talk about deflecting attention from the website. This is 2008, you DO NOT re-launch your identity without your website ready. I’ve read the excuses online and they’re all pathetic…politcal instability blah blah (seriously??). Either way it is unacceptable. I see they have already changed their website once since the re-launch…this doesn’t instill a sense of confidence. It is too flaky. The DA needs to wake up to a a more web savvy voter base and Fred shouldn’t be defending it.

    The re-launch in 2009 might just be a bit too late…not impressed…

  10. Change scares many people, but it is on this threshold that learning occurs and great things happen.
    I wonder what those who complained would have liked to have seen??

  11. Thanks for all the comments here guys.

    I’ve realised after a few hearty discussions that this is a go-nowhere subjective battle. To those who wanted to engage in a hearty debate I know that may sound lame – sorry guys. You’ve got strong opinions and you’re entitled to them; Jah be with you.

    Time will tell whether the DA’s strategy is on course. Until then, vote Zille and all will be ok.

  12. I disagree Fred, the logo looks awesome but frankly it’s a copy of Obama’s which-ever way you look at it. It points to opportunism more than it does to change/new dawn.

    That being said, I’ll still prefer this “copy”-version to the new COPE logo… eish… http://tinyurl.com/5ghcj6

    @Gerhard Pieteres aka Jail4Bail – luv the quote! Will definitely use in future :)

  13. The Congress of the People’s (COPE) logo also embodies its rationale and it must be stated that it is ORIGINAL and can be versatile as can be seen on their official website.

    Criticism can be given to anything but in all fairness, Obama’s campaign has inspired all political parties to take the web and social networks more serious.

    Can also be said that COPE’s site copies that of US President-Elect but you know what… web savvy critics won’t change public opinions and should really look at the features that make the logos or website effective (usability, accessibility, etc)

  14. Hey Fred. Thanks for your comment and look forward to seeing the new site.

    My post was in the context of:

    – A new brand/logo/strategy launch, which excluded online, bar a change on a blog header
    – the temporary site not being up to scratch

    For the relaunch you speak about, I’ll check it out when it launches, but right now, what I saw before my eyes is what I had to go on.

    Viva debate and democracy!

  15. @Oscar the features alone does not make a good website.

    Without the proper creative element, strategic placement, an all-round credible feel of a website as well as a consistent and clear message to it, the features WILL NOT come in to their own.

    It does not help if you have all the ‘correct’ technologies but it is implemented in the wrong way, a website will then stay mediocre.

  16. A great logo, and a good article defending it. However, my problem with it is that it is still a one sided logo, one that appeals to a predominantly white target market. How much research was done in researching what the black market is after? After all, if the DA are to remain the main opposition party, they need to stop looking so white! Pardon the racial reference to this comment, but lets be honest, the target market of this logo is a big minority in this rainbow nation…

  17. It has been said so many times in web-design circles. Programmers seem not to see when something is pixelated. This is a high profile organisation, give the logo and flag some quality!

  18. I respect your opinion Fred, but the rationale behind the design is irrelevant if the viewer does not know it.

    The majority of people will look at this logo and make an associate between that and the Obama logo. You can justify it with a rationale, but that doesn’t excuse the obvious similarity.

    Bank of America and the Obama logo approach the usage of the American flag within their respective identities. Both illustrate a clear landscape of the country. Yet both of them do it very differently. My point is that it’s not impossible to communicate similar messages with different visual metaphors.

    There are countless well-known companies in the world that provide the same level of service or products as other companies (and thus, have similar corporate values), but their logos are often vastly different from one another. The fact that this design might have a strong rationale doesn’t excuse the designers from too closely imitating an incredibly well-known campaign logo.

  19. I was going to post on the London Olympics logo and how cool that is, but judging from the response to this post, I think I’ll keep it to myself for now.

  20. Wow! That’s actually the first time I’ve seen the London Olympics logo… OMG!

    I’m no designer, but am I missing something or is that THE worst brand logo ever?

  21. Congratulations for the new Logo it is not material that is very similar to the Obama’s one.
    Represent the Skys the limit and show the very much talked rainbow nation of ours.
    Also show our beautiful and colourfull flag with the omission of the more representative majority of our country,the black colour.
    Was this omission done on purpose? Was this done with other intentions in main? Is the DA representing also the blacks of our country?
    PLEASE EXPLAIN WE WANT TO KNOW

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