In the past two or three years South Korean culture has risen in popularity and awareness throughout the world — from its K-pop stars like Psy to its corporate juggernauts like Samsung — increasing its tourism and business travel. Responsible for spreading “awareness of Korean culture through the strengthening and development of the tourism industry,” the Korea Tourism Organization has recently introduced a new destination brand for South Korea. Based on the credit of this brand book (ZIP file) I think the identity has been designed by Interbrand. A detailed microsite for the new brand can be found here.
The new design embodies Korea’s creativity and attractiveness, its vibrant and diverse attractions, and its welcoming spirit to all tourists who visit Korea.
I’m unsure whether to completely hate it, hate it a little bit, or actually like it a lot. It’s certainly different from the typical destination brands that have literally smoothed out all the edges. Here, the rough — okay, really rough — calligraphic style could allude to a still-developing culture that hasn’t completely lost all connections to its past and traditions before the advent of technology… it also alludes to a complete disregard for pleasant letterforms. Each specific letter shape is more cringe-worthy than the next, culminating in what may be the worst-shaped “a” I have seen. But I find the reference sources — clothing and folk dance ribbons — charming and well represented. The extended “K” definitely looks like a sleeve from the traditional clothing. It’s also kind of a horrible “K” and the rationalization that it’s “two arms wide open” make me want to grab them by the wrists, punch the logo with them, and repeat “Why are you hitting yourself?” over and over. The “Imagine your” type in DIN looks too disconnected and tacked on to be very useful or memorable.
In application there isn’t much. There is an attempt at some semi-interesting patterns that for now are just spelled out in the guidelines but don’t appear anywhere else. There is also a set of ads that have the slightly more bombastic aesthetic appeal one would expect, with boy band Big Bang footing dreamy landscapes in a smokey cloud. Overall, it’s nice to see a less polished and massaged destination brand but, within that same approach, it could have been executed much better.
Thanks to Brandemia for the tip.