The Discussion Around the “Argentinean Country Brand”

A few days ago, Argentinean authorities presented the logo that will identify the “Argentina country brand”. The news created debate in many blogs. The most extensive of them took place at Blog de Viajes, a blog I've keeping for almost three years, in this entry (in spanish). In order to make it accessible to the Global Voices public, I will revise some of the most common positions in the debate. Let's see some of them:

1) The logo is horrible and doesn't represent anything.
2) The logo is too general and doesn't draw attention.
3) The logo is a good example of synthesis that some people can't appreciate.
4) The debate is not well established; we're not talking about a logo, but about a whole system of visual identity.

Note: I use “logo” to refer to what, up to now, is the development of the country brand that has been shown. If you want to refer to it as “isologo”, that's fine, but I'm not trying to simplify this issue.

Let's discuss point by point. The first point is more interesting than it seems. While it's true that you can't judge a logo from a “pretty/ugly” point of view, it's interesting, in social terms, to see that these kind of designs have many difficulties to sell outside the proffesional market. It grabs my attention, besides, that in the communicational planning of the country brand something rather basic is not taken into consideration: how will non-specialists see it? Since this development was paid for with everyone's taxes, to say “I use public funds, but I don't recognize the public's right to judge the work” sounds, at least, not too political.

The second point touches another topic. If the logo really represents what it claims to represent. That is, “dynamism, change, transformation, elegance, modernity, innovation and technology”. Besides, many people argued why do these atributes represent Argentina. Whether we like it or not, this isn't a country that stands out, at least not in the last two decades, for its technologic contributions. And better not talk about innovation. Should more realistic attributes have been chosen, or maybe is it more important to emphasize what we want to be?

The third point is related to some of the things said in point number 1. Usually, these kinds of works don't look impressive. This is a public project; if no one foresaw the public's interpretations as part of the communicational development of the project, then to ask for “appreciation of the synthesis”, even when it's fair, sounds arrogant.

Point number 4 is a reasonable claim: this is not just a logo, it's much more. That “much more”, the design of a complete visual identification system of Argentina as a brand, is something we still don't know. After almost two weeks of the logo difussion, the site hasn't revealed anything about the development of the logo. At Cabina, the project's winners, it's hard to search for anything and impossible to establish a direct link to the page that information is contained. And as an aside: isn't making a site user friendly, to surf and link, part of the design? The Cabina site has a nice Flash resource, but it's absolutely hostile to any useful use. When will we know something about the development of the Argentina country brand and, hence, be able to judge with more information? Otherwise, we'll just keep with the same issue: the logo. And there's something else: why did the official authorities decide to just preview the logo? Didn't they realize that they weren't being fair to all the work implied? Until now, most part of the reactions of what's known as the “Argentina country brand” have been quite negative -at least in the blogs- and the blame is precisely, the rush to “show something”. The logo doesn't stand for itself; to show it isolated from the rest of the branding has done more harm than benefit. Now, it would be best to show the entire development as soon as possible, and to draw conclussions, with more information, finally.

As you can see, it's not my intention to make any kind of judgement on the logo itself. I'm no specialist in audiovisual communication; and I want to assume that those who worked on it and chose it over other options know what they're doing. But a work should defend itself; as a text, it will be put under many interpretations, and won't always -I'd rather say almost never- are their creators there to explain the “correct sense”. At least for now, the text is unable to defend itself. Anyways, we expect the whole branding package to soon be released, to be able to inform about the thinking behind the logo.

Other blogs where this topic was also discussed:

Buenos Aires de Diseño (Irene Fernández, in spanish)

Entrevista a los diseñadores de la marca país (podcast, in spanish) in the blog of the Asociación de Comunicadores Visuales de Jujuy (Sergio Aramayo).

Weblog sobre weblogs, of Clarín (Mariano Amartino, in spanish)

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