On Saturday we revealed the City of Cape Town’s dreadful new logo, which spread virally, apparently made public in the wrong colours, intended by the designers to be in the colours of the South African flag! The new pay-off line, to replace the current slogan of ‘The City that works for you‘, is ‘Making Progress Possible. Together‘, positioning Cape Town as the Opportunity City!
Due to the criticism the City has received about the logo design itself, and also to the perceived cost and the greater benefit that the monies could have been put to (the City claims the cost is only R313720, which is what it paid ad agency King James, and of course does not reflect the implementation cost of many millions, which it estimates at exceeding R 7 million as per its statement below!), it issued an elaborate statement yesterday, and hosted a media conference. Interesting is that the City media spokesperson Priya Reddy said that no public participation process has been followed, it not being required legally! It is thus clear that the City will steamroll the rebranding, and will not take cognisance of the public uproar about the rebranding, described as looking like a gear cog, a Rotary logo, or a police badge!
The statement is seven pages long, and comes across as very defensive and overly verbose and technical in justifying the design. The rebranding of the City appears to have been at the core of a dispute within the City of Cape Town, its Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate headed by Anton Groenewald and falling under Councillor Grant Pascoe, having been subject to a forensic investigation, which included having the computers of Pascoe and Groenewald as well as other staff removed in November to check the irregular City rebranding tender allocation. At that stage the Cape Argus reported that the multi million Rand rebranding tender was in danger of being cancelled, which would have been contrary to the City’s supply chain management policy!
The rebranding process appears to have been led by Carol Avenant, of the City’s Integrated Strategic Communications and Branding department, who once worked for the Western Cape government, and was at the centre of a row allegedly relating to an advertising contract awarded by the province to the TBWA/Hunt Lascaris group. She left Yellowwood, the King James agency in the same group, when she moved to the City of Cape Town, which may indicate a conflict of interest in itself!
In the Cape Argus yesterday the City spokesperson said they would implement the logo with pride if the Council approves it tomorrow! Business Day reported that Mayor Patricia de Lille told a media conference yesterday that the branding would be implemented in May for the first time, should it be approved. She also explained that the branding was ‘aimed at implementing service delivery through more effective communication with stakeholders‘, a statement which makes no logical sense at all! The ANC’s trouble-maker Tony Ehrenreich has threatened to refer the rebranding process to the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela!
The City’s elaborate response to the rebranding criticism, entitled ‘City of Cape Town Rebranding: Frequently Asked Questions‘, was issued yesterday, and follows below:
‘ 1. Why has the City decided to change its corporate identity and pay-off-line?
The City of Cape Town’s current corporate identity and pay-off-line is
approximately ten years old. As a result, it has become outdated and misaligned
with the values, strategy and vision of the City as contained in the Integrated
Development Plan (IDP) and supporting polices such as the Economic Growth
Strategy (EGS) and the Social Development Strategy (SDS).
The City has worked hard to build a reputation as the ‘City that works for you’ by
being acknowledged as the best run local government in South Africa and the
leading provider of services. However, as contained in the vision of the IDP, the
City now wants to build on this legacy and build a city of opportunity.
Furthermore, the positioning of the ‘City that works for you’ is the antithesis of
what this administration stands for, in that it implies a passive government-citizen
relationship. We want to shape a future of dynamic collaboration, where we work
for mutual success through partnership and shared responsibly.
It is only through government, citizens, civil society and business working
together that we can build on our past successes and ensure the creation of a
city characterised by opportunity for all.
2. What is different about the new logo and pay-off-line?
With a changing outlook, we need to change our look; our brand, our messaging
and logo. We need a brand that inspires all of the citizens of Cape Town to play
their part, and we therefore needed to refresh our brand to properly represent
what we are trying to achieve as an organisation and a city.
The proposed new corporate identity and pay-off-line has been developed to
express this strategic shift of the City from passive service delivery to shared
responsibility for mutual success. The gap between passive service delivery vs.
shared responsibility is significant and required a revolutionary change in visual
expression to communicate this change effectively and with impact.
The refreshed identity and pay-off-line speaks to a City that is working towards
empowering its diverse citizens to make the most of the opportunities and help
that we provide to enable them to take control of their lives.
It is aligned to our vision that speaks to achieving greatness through collaboration
and sharing in the spirit of progress.
We are building a city where everyone has a stake, is engaged, and is working
towards a better future. Together.
The criteria used in developing the identity were derived from our brand essence
(strategic criteria) and our brand principles (design criteria) – personality and values. This is in effect the visual expression of the strategic intent of the City as contained in the IDP and a range of supporting documents.
In order to deliver on our refreshed brand strategy, the logo needed to explicitly
express what we want to be known for, and needed to address the challenges of
the existing identity.
The end result is an identity that is filled with layered meaning and depth that
directly addresses the vision of this organisation and builds towards our strategic
Relevance – the identity is demonstrating relevance by being uniquely Cape
Town, from the repetition of Table Mountain to choosing our vibrant colour
spectrum that reflects the energy and spirit of the people that call this city home.
Warmth – the circular shape infers the coming together of communities, the outer
shape holding us together, demonstrating our caring nature. It represents our
inclusive nature: government, residents and the public sector working in
Gravitas – gravitas is implied by the overall balance and symmetry of the symbol.
The abstract nature allows it to both reveal the multiple Table Mountains whilst
also retaining the strength of a crest. It is this crest-like form that gives the symbol
its feeling of importance and strength.
Simplify – the new identity addresses the challenges of the previous identity by
simplifying in the following ways: there is increased clarity of the overall structure
and interplay in colour application across different executions; it is less fragile
than the previous version when reduced in size or applied in monochrome; it is
designed to stretch well across the Brand Architecture continuum, addressing the
needs of Transport for Cape Town and other directorate descriptors.
Fresh – the new identity breathes life into our brand strategy by using fresh,
bright colours. Through the clever use of Table Mountain we have contemporised
an iconic landmark. It is striking, vibrant and distinctive to other marks in the
Opportunity – the circular shape speaks to the explosion of opportunities that we
provide and the fact that with opportunity comes possibility. The inherit message
is that there is chance for advancement, but it requires action to be taken.
Progress – the shape speaks to dynamism and movement. When all role-players
play their part there is a sense of moving forward, the sense that things are
getting better because we are working collaboratively for mutual success.
Shared Responsibility – the layers visually express the coming together of all
stakeholders, of us working in harmony to ensure progress. As a City we make it
possible; as an individual, business or partner, you make it happen.
Inclusivity – the colours and layered shapes speak to the diversity of our
communities, cultures and religions. It requires everyone to get involved, be
active and make the most of the opportunities we provide because making
progress possible is a shared responsibility.
3. How much did it cost to design the new identity?
A detailed and robust process was followed in creating the new identity.
This involved an analysis of the current identity symbol, treatment, visual
language and unpacking the hierarchy of information and typography challenges.
A comprehensive category analysis was done of municipal and city logos, as well
as provincial and political identities. Analyses of the proliferation of other
categories that use Table Mountain and the National flag/rainbow were
International city identities were explored in order to understand the conventions
and scope of change they undergo when refreshing their organisational identity.
An in-depth exploration of a design evolution and revolution was done that was
tested against the strategic and design criteria to see which option works hardest
to communicate the change required by our strategy.
Through the refresh process the City has eliminated many brands that were
created internally that transferred little to no equity back into the City brand, and
that didn’t maximise clarity of our offering to our citizens. The current treatment of
communication and the multitude of brands used to communicate resulted in
unnecessary cost and use of resources.
The cost to develop our identity and visual language was R313 720.
4. What is the significance of the new pay-off-line? Making Progress Possible.
We have made a fundamental shift from continuing to instil a culture of
dependency, i.e. ‘This City Works For You’, which is misaligned to our strategic
intent, to a new pay-off line that captures the essence of what we do, what you
need to do (the resident, business, employee or partner) and the collective
benefit of working together for progress.
Every word has been chosen to reflect the required meaning to communicate the
intent of our strategy as contained in the IDP
Making: it’s active. A doing word. Building towards progress and opportunity.
Progress: a universal desire for things to be better, to grow, to move forward and
Possible: shared responsibility – we make it possible, you need to make it
happen. The benefit of both is realising opportunities.
Together: everyone has a role to play. Inclusivity.
It’s a promise that can be made both externally as well as internally, as every day
we are working towards making progress possible.
Our commitment to Make Progress Possible, Together, means more
opportunities to find work, access to infrastructure that enables you to travel to
find work, being part of a well-run city that creates opportunities for everyone.
Progress is the sum of citizens and government working together towards a
common goal. Movement without progress is simply change. Progress speaks to
always moving forward, always doing more, doing better, for everyone.
Progress means improved coherence between the private and public sectors, so
that everyone’s investment realises a bigger return – economically and socially.
Progress means foundations are put in place for business to flourish – to attract
more business and talent to create a competitive landscape. Progress is creating
a better performing environment. Progress means that business is not in this
alone. It’s a partnership with government. We are all part of the plan – all part of
the solution. Progress is the certainty that foundations for growth are in place.
Progress means increasing faith in Local Government from our stakeholders.
Progress means creating a better city for all, and doing it better than anyone else
– a distinction of excellence.
Progress means that we are in this together. We can realise opportunities by
taking the steps towards real change and accountability. Progress is possible, if
we work together.
5. What was wrong with the previous corporate identity and pay-off-line?
The old corporate identity and pay-off line are misaligned to the strategic intent as
contained in the IDP and supporting documents. Furthermore, there were a range
of technical limitations, including:
Brand stretch: the previous identity did not allow any scope to accommodate a
stretch on the Brand Architecture Continuum. The existing identity does not have
the flexibility to communicate our diverse services (directorate names). The
number of characters and the way in which they are structured does not allow for
further descriptors to be included in order to provide clarity and navigation.
Ownability: there are a multitude of organisations, ranging from sporting events to
furniture stores and hardware stores to tourism brands, which use Table
Mountain in a similarly shaped outline to the existing corporate identity. Everyone
with any connection to the city uses it, and this therefore made it very difficult to
be unique and ‘ownable’.
Distinctive colour use: as with the mountain, the national flag colours are used
across a multitude of industries, including from broadcast institutions, the lottery and provincial and political organisations. Therefore it is not uniquely Cape Town or distinctive in any way.
Fragile nature: the existing identity, with its married characters, does not reduce
in a legible way. Not only can you not read the words, but the flag/rainbow
becomes a solid colour when used in greyscale or monochrome making it
inconsistent when used in single colour. When used in colour, one of the colours
disappears (most of time) when used on a coloured background, making the logo
blend in a way that reduces its visibility.
Outdated: the existing identity is 10 years old, making it dated and tired. The
shape and colours (as mentioned above) and accompanying visual language,
make the City appear out of touch with the vibrant and energetic nature of its
residents. The dated look does not speak to the values of the strategy as
contained in the IDP.
6. How was the decision taken to adopt a new corporate identity and pay-off-line?
Since the adoption of the IDP and a range of supporting policy documents, it has been clear that the City’s current corporate identity and pay-off line were misaligned to the strategic intent of the organisation. With a shift in strategy, it is necessary to give visual expression to a new approach. The new corporate identity was developed in terms of a brand framework developed internally at significant cost savings) and has been sent by the Mayoral Committee to Council for consideration on 26 February 2014.
With a shift in strategy, it is necessary to give visual expression to a new
approach. The new corporate identity was developed in terms of a brand
framework developed internally (at significant cost savings), and has been sent
by the Mayoral Committee to Council for consideration on 26 February 2014
7. How much will this process cost?
Every effort will be made to minimise cost wherever possible. The City will not
adopt a ‘big bang’ approach of a big corporate which sees the changes effected
overnight, but will rather adopt a responsible and phased approach to
It must be understood that, at present, the City spends significant budget on
maintaining the current identity and the communication thereof. This existing
spend will be redirected to help implement the new corporate identity and pay-off
An initial amount of R7,2 million from an existing budget allocation has been
budgeted for high impact collateral. Thereafter, the new identity will be phased in
when ordering new equipment, stationery, signage, vehicles, etc. These
purchase processes happen almost every day in the City; again it must be
stressed that there will not be a wholesale introduction of the new identity, if
approved, but rather an approach based on need.
Significant cost savings will be derived from a much more targeted and strategic
approach to communication. The City currently has a costly array of sub brands
which are expensive to maintain and ineffective in their communication.
8. Is this not going to be at the expense of service delivery?
No. Every effort has been made to limit costs in the development of the new
corporate identity. A phased and responsible approach to the implementation of
the new identity will serve to reduce the cost of implementation. The intention is
to improve service delivery through more effective communication and to ensure
that citizens understand what the City is doing to make progress possible, be it in
housing, transport, safety and security etc., so that they can take advantage of
9. How was this particular identity and pay-off-line chosen?
The criteria described above informed the selection of the new logo and pay-off
line. It must be understood that these new aspects had to properly reflect the
values of the City of Cape Town. There will always be differences of opinion in
relation to shapes and colour choices. This is accepted. However, it is
consistency with strategy that is most important. And the new logo and pay-off
line deliver on this aspect 100%.
10. Why did the new corporate identity and pay-off line not undergo a public
The new corporate identity and pay-off line is subject to Council approval. The
logo is the expression of the IDP and other documents which were the subject of
extensive public participation. Further, there is no requirement in law which
prescribes that a corporate identity and pay-off line are required to undergo such
11. Was the contract awarded in an open tender process?
Yes, an open and transparent process was followed. There were no appeals
arising from this process.
12. How often does the City change its branding?
This is a decision taken for the long-term that is supported by a strong strategic
rationale; the old identity was in place for over ten years.
13. Who is the company responsible for the new logo?
The successful agencies were a joint venture between King James and
14. Why does a Local Government need a brand?
Citizens have a right to know what government does for them. A brand is the
vehicle to communicate service delivery and to communicate how we are useful
and relevant to citizens.
A brand is your reputation, and while the City is building on the successes of the
past, it needs to be known for more than passive service delivery. It needs to be
known for being a City that works towards creating opportunities for everyone.
We are competing against all of the messages in the market. If we don’t brand
ourselves clearly and communicate in a focused, consistent and relevant manner,
our citizens won’t be informed.
A consistent brand with a consistent look and feel builds trust, confidence and
recognition in an organisation and is based on best practice: it’s the best way for
a complex, multifaceted organisation to communicate to its citizens.
Government can be perceived as complicated and intimidating, and having a
brand that communicates a set of values helps to break down these barriers and
encourages participation between stakeholders’.
POSTSCRIPT 1/4: The Now Boarding design agency has created a new logo for the City of Cape Town at its own initiative, incorporating into it sub-logos for the different districts of the City.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage