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Mind the gap, as 'simple' logo divides opinion

LIKE ART: The National Gallery Singapore's new logo - which comes in charcoal grey or red - has attracted strong, polarising reactions.


    Apr 07, 2014

    Mind the gap, as 'simple' logo divides opinion

    KEEPING it simple may be a mantra many stand by, but can too simple be too dull?

    The new National Gallery Singapore has undergone a branding exercise and its new logo has attracted strong, polarising reactions.

    The logo, which comes in two colours - charcoal grey or red - comprises two rectangular blocks with a slight gap in between.

    "That's the logo?" asked Mr Marc Sim, manager of brand consultancy firm Mcube. "It looks like two blanks in a questionnaire for me to fill in.

    "The logo is important to a company... this logo does not symbolise anything."

    Many netizens have taken to social media to slam the museum's logo since it was unveiled last week. Some called it "meaningless", "ridiculous" and "an insult to the design community". Others likened it to the senseless doodles of a pre-schooler.

    But its simplicity was deliberate, said Mr Chris Lee, the founder of creative agency Asylum, which developed it. "A logo should, first and foremost, be simple," he added.

    "Reducing the identity to two simple blocks was something that I immediately felt was a brilliant thought, because it is open to interpretation. Just like art," said Mr Lee.

    The agency, he said, was entirely responsible for the logo and took three months to work on it. It was picked from over 50 symbols his four-man design team had come up with. Mr Lee's firm is also responsible for the logos of brands such as the School of the Arts and Frolick yogurt.

    The building of the museum was first announced in 2006. Its formal logo and name were unveiled at a launch on Wednesday. It will open in November next year and occupy the space of two heritage buildings - the City Hall and former Supreme Court.

    The logo has its defenders. Ms Audrey Yeo, founder of art gallery Arnoldii Arts Club, thinks it is clean - symbolic of a clear vision and the space the gallery will inhabit.

    "It's good to be simple. The contemporary design speaks well of Singapore as an arts and design hub, that it is forward," she said.

    But ceramic artist Jessie Lim thinks it could be reworked.

    "It does not remind me of art... it looks more like a logo of a transport company. Maybe they can improve it, design it with something that reminds you of Singapore," she suggested.

    Ms Lily Lim, founder of BrandAngel Management Consulting, said that the criticism and misunderstanding that come with a new brand is to be expected.

    "Look at world-famous brand Nike. If we ask ourselves honestly, before the brand was famous, did we really think that the logo design was very apt and suited the brand image?"

    After all, it may be that what is inside the museum counts more.

    Regular museum patron Erliana Zaid thinks that what matters is not the logo, but what the museum has to offer.

    "Ultimately, it is the experience you get when you walk through the doors," said the 25-year-old.