Originally a working harbor and important commercial port of Sydney in the 1800s and early 1900s, this key area of Sydney lay dormant and derelict for the better part of the mid- to late-1900s until 1988 when the city redeveloped it and then gave it another boost in 2000 for the Olympics. Today, Darling Harbour is one of the most visited destinations, with 25 million visitors a year that eat at one of its numerous restaurants, watch movies in its cinemas, parade through the Chinese Garden of Friendship, see fishes in the aquarium, go bowling, marvel (air quotes) at a Madame Tussauds location, or enjoy a number of other waterfront activities and attend numerous musical and cultural events through the year. Darling Harbour is managed by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) who worked with Interbrand Australia to develop a new identity.
There is a handful more images posted on Interbrand’s project page not shown here.
SHFA’s vision is ‘to make extraordinary places the world talks about’, so very simply — our objective was to get people talking about this brand. To do this we created an inflatable brand identity. A distinctive idea that clearly and simply connects: communications, street furniture, way-finding, uniforms, websites and the overall in-precinct experience. Without ever feeling corporate or dull.
“The new identity system for Darling Harbour has given us the tools to talk about the diversity of the offer and the variety of events in a cohesive way, that engages our tenants, Sydney-siders and visitors.” Julian Boram, SHFA Director of Marketing.
If this project were any more joyful or happy or vibrant it would have to be considered illegal. From the flat version of the logo to the “SHOP” balloons dangling three or four stories high, this identity is about creating excitement and making the experience of visiting Darling Harbour memorable. There is no hidden agenda, no higher meaning, no elaborate rationalization — it’s just balloons. Why? Because balloons. Balloons and, more specifically, balloon typography do not require explanation. The simple fact that a client accepted this proposal is a merit to Interbrand Australia and while they could have relied solely on the gimmick of balloon typography, the identity has plenty of the necessary rigor to make it work across a number of applications and communication needs while also showing enough flexibility to make it appropriate for the different audiences — look at how different the look is in the tenant guide and the Fiesta banners.
To make this post not just a celebratory back-patting, I do have to wonder how many years this concept can last. When does all this inflated, exuberant typography and imagery become too much? How many variations on the theme can you do, especially once it’s outside the control of Interbrand? This identity clearly requires the work of a 3D artist, so how long before that becomes expensive or cumbersome? Etcetera, etcetera. In the meantime, screw it: balloons, everyone!
Thanks to Simeon King for the tip.