Brand Recognition: Visual Anthropology of the South Blessed logo

April 12th, 2013 by Shawn Sobers in Creative Networks Research | no comments


What do we see?  An alternative coloured Union Jack in a heart shape, with swirly italic writing underneath?  Is that all?  For those inclined to make informed cross-cultural links, the logo design registers ideas of the Jamaican flag, the only country with those combination of colours.  Together the symbols of British and Jamaican identities speak of a notional combined experience, and shared cultural and historical heritages.  If this logo tells the story of migration, the design suggests the British landscape has been journeyed to as the site of destination, due to the Union Jack being the dominant structure of the logo design, rather than the Jamaican flag being rendered into the colours of red, white and blue.

To this point the terms logo and flag have been used interchangeably – flags are logos of their nations, and logos are flags of their businesses.  All flags tell stories of their nations, and all logos have been designed with the brand identities of their businesses in mind.   The Jamaican story speaks of participation, with the flag being the result of a national competition to recognise the country’s independence from Britain.  The colours are pan-African; yellow representing the sun, green the richness of the land, and black for the people and the liberation narrative of the history of the island from slavery.  The Union Jack tells the story of early empire of combined nations, with the flag design directly symbolising new unions.  England’s St George cross first joined with Scotland’s St Andrew’s cross, and latterly joined with Ireland’s cross of St Patrick.  Taken together, rendered within a heart shape, the universal symbol of love, the new flag of the South Blessed logo takes the potentially explosive and controversial narratives of these nation’s histories, and presents a new idea of departure from historical baggage.  The heart shape forces a new optimistic reading, or potential, of what the new narrative can become.  In that sense the logo is highly post-modern.  It speaks both of an acknowledgment of history but also of a new set of unique experiences: building on the past and also a radical departure from it in the diaspora.

The tag ‘South Blessed’ underneath the heart flag adds to this reading, offering further combinations of history, identity and culture.  Based in Bristol, in the South West of England, the name plays of that geographic position whilst again evoking a Jamaican flavour, with the inclusion of the word ‘Blessed’ rather than ‘West’, playing on the Caribbean island’s tendency for inclusion of Biblical terminology in everyday speech and salutations.  The inclusion of ‘Blessed’ directly speaks to and re-enforces the suggested reading of the heart shape rendering of the combined flags – one of optimism, affection, and pride in where we are now.  A hybrid product of the past, firmly rooted in the present.

The logo offers multi-layered stories of the brand identity of the business, without ever giving away the actual core nature of the business.  It offers up a big idea rather than a set of services.  A grand narrative without getting specific.  It is a logo presenting a set of values, and possibly even promoting a lifestyle and mind-state, akin to a visual manifesto.

Dr Shawn Sobers
Strand 3 – Creative Networks
University of the West of England

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