NHS Anniversary logo

‘Modern graphic design [software] packages surely allow anyone with an average brain to design something as good as, or better than [the NHS anniversary logo]."

Erm… thank goodness for Ms Campbell.

"Emily Campbell, director of design for the Royal Society of Arts, says, ‘The Times makes puerile sport of a series of branding exercises, but I have not doubt that in most cases the designers billed a fair wage for what they were asked to do.’

She adds, ‘The point is what they were asked to do. The person who asked for a “brand refresh” sounds a lot sillier to me than the designer whosupplied it. Civil servants need to get better at this - at identifying a genuine design opportunity, articulating what they like, want and need from the solution, and understanding what design is and isn’t for.’"

Full article here:


It leads me to wonder what more individual designers can do to promote design understanding / appreciation within the wider community. Are we in fact so caught up in our little ‘design world’ that we are failing to see (or simply failing to articulate in relation to) the bigger picture, and failing to profit as a result? Perhaps it is a failing of school education, where higher emphasis is placed on sciences, maths and language than design.

Original Times article:

  1. I think they did get screwed. All that money and I’m not sure which logo they are talking about:

  1. Sounds like they paid the going rate. It’s unfair to compare outside consultants to in-house designers (if they exist). I could make the same kind of argument to my boss: $1000 in house compared to $5000 from a consultant. I’m sure it seems extreme to people who don’t know anything about consulting, but that’s the reality of it.

  2. Anyone know if this is true? From the comment section of Design Week

Less than 10% of the design sector belong to a design trade association but 90% cry out for representation, a voice, new business support and their battles to be fought by others.
It’s little wonder then that the design industry in general gets walked over - something that could be more easily curtailed if the majority stood up to be counted and formerly invested in their business and sector by joining a professional body or trade association be that regional or national.

  1. Just all around sad. This is why I think that more people need to run for political office. Lawyers and Poli. Sci. majors have narrow world views that limits them. We need parliments that are filled with brick layers, designers and such.

Government paying inflated prices for something… nnooooo, never heard of that before.

It’s true though, graphic/brand designers working with the government have a bad rap because the work they do is essentially unquantifiable. At least when working for a retail brand or even a corporate brand it’s success can be measured in sales or even awareness.

How do you measure the success of a re-brand for a government department ?
Awareness ?

Apart from making the government ‘appear’ modern… what really is the drive behind these re-brand schemes ?
And more specifically who cares if the NHS is 60 years old if they still leave pensioners to die lying on stretchers in the corridors ?

I’d like to hear Bell Design’s side of the story on this project.

They do have a rebuttal on their blog.

“The Times article is a cheap and lazy shot at one of the few UK professions that genuinely engenders worldwide envy. A profession that should be supported, encouraged and celebrated – not sneered at on a slow news day.”

I’d like to hear Bell Design’s side of the story on this project.

They do have a rebuttal on their blog.

wow, they sure sound bitter about this thing.
Personally, I think a statement like that on their blog just makes them seem rather insecure when they feel like hey have to through their “worldwide envied” weight around.
strange reaction in my mind.

Did they just say “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game”?

I think they did, kind of a disappointing post in that it mostly perpetuates a designer elitist tone. He touched on the expenses of the bidding process, but I think he could have made a stronger point by giving more specific detail about why this project cost what it did so that the public can understand it. Anyone that’s worked with public sector clients knows that bureaucratic decision making often comes with the territory and pitching a design in this kind of bid processes can be time consuming and costly for the bidder. It should come to no surprise to anyone that such an underwhelming design for such a cost is the result of working with a less than design-savvy client. And by that I mean first recognizing the need for design and then being able to work efficiently with an agency to implement it.

Conversely Bell has some blame to take on here and that is not acting like a consultant and assessing for their client whether or not there truly was a need for a re-design in the first place. Maybe they initially questioned it, but like I said this should have had some detail in their post. Sometimes being up front and honest with a client about their desires vs. their needs can gain you a lot of respect in the long-term.

I guess this sums it up. From the publics point of view all they see is the result - i.e. the addition of two digits to a logo that has been around for year. Without an understanding of the process and the time that this process takes, the public cannot, understandably, comprehend why the addition of two digits should cost so much to implement. That, perhaps, is where Bell’s responsibility lies in fighting for its corner. I wonder if they were contacted by the Times before the article was written?

I find it interesting that this biased report is featured in a newspaper which relies almost as much on design to sell its papers than news…

Plenty of blame to go around, can you really call it journalism if you only take the time to get and report one side of the story?