Report by NewsroomPlus.com – Contributed by Stephen Olsen
Media release: 9 July 2015
Government approach to new flag design too political and unprofessional
A leading member of New Zealand’s graphic design community is calling for an urgent rethink on designing a new flag because the current process has been politically hijacked, does not have the buy-in of the public and will likely result in an outcome that nobody is happy with.
Past President and Fellow of the Designer’s Institute of New Zealand (DINZ), Fraser Gardyne, says the politicisation of the flag change process has not only ignored professional input from New Zealand’s visual communication experts, but it will also not have buy-in from a large portion of Kiwis.
“I can understand that Prime Minister John Key would be unhappy at having the Australian flag confused for our flag when he attends an overseas function, but the essence of any good ‘brand’ begins with the buy-in of all stakeholders,” says the former convenor of the graphics section of the NZ Best Awards and Pride in Print Awards judge.
“The first step, before design even begins, should be a public discussion to get people on side – even a vote on the issue – once the pros and cons to changing the flag have been well explained. Secondly, the design profession, whose business is visual communication, should be engaged.
“Right now the Flag Consideration Panel is more one of political expediency than professional design expertise. A committee decision – especially one this large – will likely only end with a mishmash of ideas, confusion and, without public buy-in, that’s going waste taxpayer money,” Mr Gardyne said.
Establishing a truly professional design process to create the national flag is the most important step, and it will be difficult to come up with something that is truly compelling when the majority of stakeholders (the public) believe the ‘new flag exercise’ is just an unnecessary expense.
“At this late stage, professional designers should be called in to help the panel sift through the thousands of submitted flag designs, and match up those that best visually communicate the core values expressed in ‘What we stand for’ feedback. That’s a daunting task for most people to get their heads around, but designers practice it every day.
“I think the problem with the changing of the flag is that it has been politically hijacked. The process that Government has set-up has an appearance of inviting comment and inclusion, but just brings confusion to the subject.
“Designing a new flag is about shaping a visual identity for New Zealand that is distinctive, easily recognisable and that we would become proud of. It’s about articulating a message and a perception – it should communicate visually. It’s not about a pretty picture everybody likes, it’s about what we are trying to say about ourselves.”
Mr Gardyne said that the principles of good flag design include:
- A restricted colour range
- Simple graphic shapes that are distinctive
- Easy to draw or reproduce (even by a 5-year-old) from memory
Successful designs like the Japanese and Canadian flags, are simple and strong and easily recognised by their national associations – the rising sun and the maple leaf.
“We’ve got things backwards and I am worried by what this might mean for our flag. We need something that is distinctive, that is uniquely ours, and something that we all want – not a political convenience,” he said.
ABOUT gardyneHOLT: Fraser Gardyne is the Creative Director of gardyneHOLT, a graphic design and branding agency located in central Auckland. The company specialises in branding design for export companies that can easily translate across national, cultural and language barriers. The agency also offers translation services and is a carboNZero certified company.