In the Straits Times on 1st April was a report on The Asia News Network (ANN) attracting entries for a logo contest. I wish it was an April Fool’s joke – although someone is certainly making a fool of the design and branding industry. It was reported that more than 1,000 entries had been received for this competition which closed on the end of March. The winner will picked on 30th April. Guess how much the winner gets? The person responsible for the design of this important new logo will get just US$3,000! That works out at US$3 per design.

This organisation, which claims to be the world’s largest newspaper network, has now got a logo at a fraction of the cost it would take to employ a professional designer or branding organisation. It is a sign of disrespect for all the people who have trained in design and spent years gaining experience. Why do Governments bother to train designers if industry thinks anyone off the streets can create a logo. One would have thought people in the newspaper industry would understand that we have to go beyond a pretty logo to create branding. Sadly this ignorance is not uncommon, not generally in the folks working in the media industry, of course, and the design associations have been fighting these free logo competitions for years. Once upon a time in Singapore, we would see Government organisations announcing such things but fortunately this seems to have died away in recent years. Perhaps we have more widely educated and aware group of civil servants nowadays? I hope the designer associations will protest.

But the old days were not all bad. Some of the more senior ad men will remember the days when Singapore ad agencies, with the backing of the 4As, used to charge clients for a creative pitch. A fee of S$5,000 was the set rate. The equivalent today would be, I guess around S$15,000 to S$20,000. The fee discouraged clients from asking up to ten agencies to pitch which happens these days. The industry cannot blame the clients for having let this practice fade away. It was the agencies themselves, and a weak 4As that failed to hold its members to the agreement, that finally sunk the concept. I believe accredited ad agencies in Malaysia still follow this practice. Hats off to them.

Both these examples show a lack of respect for the profession. One by a client and the other by the industry itself.