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Sunday, 14 December 2014

What’s in a logo?

By Andrew Mulenga

Following the death of incumbent Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata, the unprecedented presidential by-elections scheduled for 20 January 2015 are in full swing and it is during politically animated moments like this that the public is continuously bombarded with competing political party slogans, colours and branding.

Forum for Democracy and Development
Simple logic suggest that political parties operate on the premise of serving the people, but in order to do this they have to attract the multitudes and obviously when it comes to graphics it would not be advisable to do so by designing a sophisticated emblem that will confuse them, but this is not to say that what is on offer is any easier to read.

Nevertheless, it is also during times such as these when one really gets the opportunity to take a closer look at these party logos. Close scrutiny will show that the emblems of most of the country’s popular political groups (if not all of them) are extremely amateurish by design and execution.

They are obviously formulated in the minds of the political leaders and founders of the parties, individuals and perhaps groups whom possibly have no idea of graphic design but intend to encapsulate their vision in a symbol that can be easily recognised and printed on anything from posters, flags, t-shirts, caps, headed-paper and as seen in more recent times, condoms, as was the case in Rupiah Banda’s presidential failed campaign of 2011.

Movement for Multi-party Democracy
But without isolating any out or casting too much judgement on their aesthetics and of course with all due respect to their creativity, the designers that execute the final work on many of these emblems seem to break all the basic rules of logo design.

First, a logo should not lean too heavily on background colour to lessen the complication of reproduction such as printing in large quantities for black and white newspaper production. Second, the draughtsmanship on all them is pitiable to say the least. Third, a few of them are a little too wordy, with entire slogans and party agendas inserted in them.

Nevertheless, let us forget about judging the professional design of the logos or the creative abilities of those who created them. Let us just have some fun, let us play a game, just for jokes, whether you are a card or panga (machete) carrying member of any of the parties.

Let us look at the logos provided here, we obviously know to whom they belong, but do we all know what they mean or signify? In no particular order of preference or importance, one of them has an open palm set against a yellow backdrop as the main feature,; one has two people in a banana boat with a dove flying towards them, one has a hand with its index finger raise up, one has a valentine or perhaps a heart on the silhouette of an upper human torso, one has a hand bearing a torch whose flame is aglow with the national colours, one of them has its party initials set against the backdrop of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) flag, or perhaps it is just an ordinary rainbow.

United National Independence Party
Anyway, test yourself, how much do you know about the symbols in your party’s or the next parties logo? If you are on the bus, at home, work, in church or your favourite bar ask the person next to you how well they can interpret a party logo, chances are they cannot, which begs the question, do you really know what these political parties stand for if you do not know what their emblems represent?. Chances too, are that even the collective leadership of Zambia’s political parties cannot interpret their own logos, after all, a good number of them have been members of all parties in existence and may get things messed up along the way.

But also returning to the professional execution of these emblems or lack thereof, something is quite telling. If the logos seen here can pass for good design, it speaks volumes of the party’s care for aesthetically pleasing artwork which in turn suggests a considerable disregard for the visual arts and in turn does any of them really have a vision or passion for the arts beyond hidebound campaign songs. Meanwhile enjoy the guessing game with the logos.

1 comment:

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