Council logo refresh ‘equals’ a £21k bill

Council accused of ‘virtue signalling’ as it brings in artwork with ‘equality’ lines

Friday, 11th March — By Anna Lamche

islington Council logo

The traditional coat of arms and, right, the new logo with an ‘equals’ sign

ISLINGTON Council has spent more than £21,000 “tweaking” its logo, the Tribune has learned.

A new, simplified design now adorns the council’s communications material, as anyone who has passed road signs, had leaflets through their door, or happened to click on the council’s social media accounts may have noticed.

First appearing in September, the brand “refresh” has cost the council £21,080, and will be rolled out “gradually” on “new materials or strictly on a replacement basis”, the council said.

The previous logo, a traditional coat of arms incorporating a range of finely rendered details relating to the borough’s history, was introduced in 2007. The council said this logo “has become increasingly impractical to apply, particularly in digital formats”.

While the “We Serve” motto remains, the new rendering does away with several components of the familiar heraldic crest: gone are the waves (symbolic of Islington’s associations with water), the Maltese Cross (a reference to the Order of St John of Jerusalem) and the crescent symbol (a nod to Charterhouse founder Thomas Sutton).

The new logo brings the “book of learning” – symbolic of the borough’s educational institutions – into greater prominence, maintaining the “water-bouget” (a reference to the Berners family, founding fathers of Barnsbury) and the arrow (referring to the borough’s historical association with archery).

“We have deliberately avoided radical changes to the logo; it has been simplified to make it look clearer on screens,” a council spokesperson said. This simplified crest sits atop two black lines, which the council says should be read as an “equals” sign. The council says this element reflects “our commitment to equality”.

But the council has been criticised on social media for “virtue signalling”. One user wrote: “Strongly in favour of money be[ing] spent to make things more equal. Not in favour of spending money to just tell people they’re equal.”

Speaking to the Tribune, Labour councillor Paul Convery dismissed this perspective.

“I know why it looks like that if you’re cynically minded,” he said.

“Maybe if we were doing nothing but tweaking the corporate logo, but we are changing a lot of what the council does.

“We’re now in this recovery phase of the pandemic – it’s a deep, fresh breath, a recognition that we need to meet some new challenges, and there are some things that need to be done differently.”

Cllr Convery, who said he was not speaking on behalf of the council, said most councillors were not consulted on the image change and that the leader of the council and “senior managers” at the Town Hall gave the new design the go-ahead.

“I was a bit surprised,” he said.

Last week he described the rebranding as “unnecessary”, but added: “This is not like Haringey – they took the curious decision to completely change their corporate branding with a big, jaggy Haringey symbol.

“They took down signs and replaced everything. We’re not doing that.”

Haringey Council spent £86,000 on its 2015 rebranding.

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