After the devastation caused by a 8.8 earthquake, 210 miles south from Santiago, an aftershock destroyed a cubed logo used during ten years of socialist Presidents (Ricardo Lagos, Michelle Bachelet). On March 9th, two days before Sebastián Piñera inauguration, his appointed-to-be speaker announced a new official logo for the incoming administration. Piñera, a conservative businessman, won a run-off in last january, becoming the first right-wing candidate to be democratically elected President in 52 years.
“In these hard times this country’s on, it’s necessary to appeal to the nation’s unity. That’s why we were finding a symbol that could represent our history and that could make every Chilean identified with”. — Ena von Baer, new government speaker.
Guess what? The nation’s unity depends on putting back together the good old coat of arms. Designed by Hambre, a local agency that has been working along with Piñera since he was a candidate. According to the Chilean Constitution, the coat of arms actually is an official nation symbol, but most Chileans relate that to the seventeen years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship between 1973 and 1990. Sometimes, historic symbols divide people. Besides, it’s grey! And it’s tough! Definitely not friendly as the coat also includes the controversial motto “Por la razón o la fuerza” (“By right or might”).
The problem is that the incoming government doesn’t know the difference between “historic” and “timeless.” A timeless icon may be historic, but not the other way round. Well, that’s just half of the issue. “This typeface is a modern type that shows future and a colorful hope”, von Baer said. Wrong. It’s Century Gothic, a typeface you can find in most of Windows computers. Government picked a randomly chosen future.
And the logo itself has serious problems. It won’t work in a minimum size: the motto on the coat of arms will be impossible to read when printed small, and it was not conceived for its usage in one color, as well: were the waves tested in one color? Those are problems a designer should care while preparing the usage guidelines manual, and judging from the actual Chile government guidelines [PDF], the one-color logo is quite a mess.
Since this logo was announced, people (design professionals or not) say through social media this mark is too expensive — a reported US$200,000 — to be that ugly. Others say this is a clip art and Word art combined. Webzines are challenging their readers to design something as cheap as the official logo. Even the parent owner of Hambre, lawyer Hernán Larraín Matte, son of a conservative senator and member of influential families in Chile, has become the laughing stock of Facebook and Twitter.
This logo will be spread across every public department in the country. It will be the letterhead of messages to be sent around the world… A logo is a country image matter. A government should take this really seriously. “The new way to govern”, as Piñera claimed in his campaign, thinks quality brand design is incidental.
Finally, to make matters more questionable, due to the large complaints, incoming government stated on March 10th that this logo is just “temporary”, for six months, as they announce a call for tender for a definitive logo.