About a year ago, an interesting advertising campaign was unveiled in the New York Subway system featuring a unique, if not overly complex logo, enticing viewers to travel the Bahamas. The logo featured several colorful & unusually shaped organic icons, visually representing the islands of the Bahamas. The logo and subsequent campaign did the job because I remembered it a year later.
Recently, during a morning overdose of caffeinated glee with Al Roker and the Today Gang on NBC, I noticed a television commercial advertising the joys of vacationing in Panama, with a very similar logo as the Bahamas design from last year. Some online sleuthing and closer observation revealed that the logos were practically “cut from the same palm leaf” – and featured not only a similar use of colors but a nearly identical typeface. One could argue that the Panama design firm chose squares instead of unusual organic shapes, but I would respond to that statement with a barrage of creative fists of fury.
This act of blatant thievery or “modest appreciation” is one of the reasons that the creative profession is suffering at the greedy hands of poor designers and overly convincing clients. I can’t begin to imagine what could have possibly convinced a self-respecting graphic artist to swindle the design style of another tourist destination when they knew that someone would certainly call their creative bluff.
There are many reasons why this is bad. Advertising message reception is a pretty quick event when you think about it – I see something pretty, then glance away and process it internally later. At a quick glance, this would make this new campaign less successful, since the viewer might actually believe that the Panama campaign is actually a rerun of the campaign for the Bahamas. The obvious reason is that the Bahamas logo concept was kidnapped by the Panama design team.
The moral of this story – although it still needs to be proven or disproven by the success of the new Panama campaign – is that when a client comes to you saying that they want a repeat of something that has been successful in the past like the Nike swoosh or a web site that works just like Google, they don’t want or need those solutions copied exactly, they likely lust after the success of the aforementioned solutions. In the case of this Panama/Bahamas debacle, the client probably saw the Bahamas logo and campaign, read about it’s success, and told a designer, “Make it look like that.” Unfortunately, this is an example of another client who is looking for glory without the commitment that the Bahamas campaign, Google, Nike or hundreds of other brands have made to their audiences.
Instant audience satisfaction can be achieved by a clever design solution, but originality designed to stand the test of time is what will make your client rich.