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The new OGC logo as intended
The new OGC logo as seen on mousemats.

The instantly identifiable badge of brand or corporate identity, a logo is designed by either:

  • A mong
  • An image consultancy

Having your company logo designed by the former will usually cost you some jelly or a sweetie.

Using the latter medium will cost you significantly more - around £50,000 at the going rate for corporate scrawl.

The end result, however, is usually the same: either a blob, a squiggle, or a squiggly blob.

Until quite recently, corporate identity was usually quite staid, traditional and easily identifiable. An example of this was the old British Rail logo - which despite privatisation, is still curiously found on your rail ticket.

Even prior to nationalisation trains used to be of a uniform livery that was instantly identifiable (GWR, LNER etc.), now they're all the colours of the rainbow and the hapless traveller is hard pressed to know which company he or she's patronising.

Privatisation plays havoc with corporate identity. GPO vans were always green, and then they went yellow. Privatisation dictated they went a rather eye-catching grey - but not before BT spent £50 million on a new logo to accompany it. GPO vans were yellow for a reason: so you didn't run into them on foggy mornings when they were at the side of the road fixing stuff. The move to grey - the colour of fog - was not a forward step for staff safety, or a brilliant example of common sense.

BT's 'piper' logo lasted from 1991 until 2003. That's right kids, just a twelve year shelf-life for £50 million. Money well spent. BT's new 'blobs' logo is set to cost a mere £5 million, but they said that in 1991 too, so?

But the award for the best branding faux pas goes to '' - or British Airways as they used to be better known as. BA's decision to re-brand their fleet of aircraft is a classic example of fixing something that wasn't broken. It was decided to remove the flag-type design and replace it with a series of ethnic patterns to better reflect the company's 'diversity'. They looked totally gay, and were gradually replaced at great cost by a design that wasn't dissimilar to what was used in the 1970s. The point?

Civic and governmental offices used to utilise armourial bearings, i.e. shields. The yanks love this stuff and it does look good on the letterheads. Unfortunately, the re-branding malaise that's sweeping through the halls of power has dictated otherwise.

Contemporary logo design usually resembles childish scrawl or something so contrived as to have no logical connection with the intended customer base. A perfect example of this was South Cambridgeshire District Council's foolish decision to replace the old classic armourial bearings with a squiggly line. A very unpopular move, it was scrapped - but not until shit loads of taxpayer's cash had been squandered. Nottingham County Council decided to replace their sensible Robin Hood logo with a £400,000 'N'.

One of the strangest was Abbey National and its ever changing logo. Originally it was two people under an umbrella shaped like a house's roof. Abbey sells mortgages so it was a good sensible logo one would've thought - and one that had stood the test of time. Then a total tosser called Lucman Arnold takes over, and immediately changes the logo to something that resembles a half completed spray job in pale pastel colours - and which are so weak that Abbey vanishes from the high street better than a sniper in heavy terrain. Cost to change = £5million. Time logo lasted = less than two years. Result = Abbey taken over by a Spanish bank that introduces another logo that looks like a smouldering turd.

abbeyLogo.gif to this abbeylogo.gif to this Abbey_rgb.gif in £10mil

Another example of misguided thinking is the Conservative Party's decision to ditch the Thatcherian flaming torch logo and replace it with a green squiggle that's supposed to be a tree - better reflecting the current incumbent's credentials as an Eco-warrior. Cost? £40,000. A snip for something that could've been knocked up on a beer mat in less than five seconds. As Terry Wogan would say, 'Is it me?'

conservative.gif and this changed to this tree_full_col.gif

The one that's caused the most fun recently is the Olympic logo for London 2012. Frankly it looks like a woman with an Afro giving a bloke a blow job. Don't believe me? Well here it is.


It cost £400,000 and comes in various pastel colours (the logo, not the bloke). You couldn't make it up could you? Except someone did. In fact lots did - and with some far superior and imaginative designs. More appropriate would have been this: