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Australian government's wasted paper - and money

Editorial Staff

In the past year, two of Australia's most high profile departments have undergone so-called "rebranding exercises." ASIC and the ACCC have changed their logos. Was it worth it?

Let's say that today is the first day this writer noticed the new logo on the ACCC website despite the change, it has been learned, being made last October. What's the difference? It's purple not black and there's a contrasting flash at the bottom of the A.

And there's a slightly different typeface.

Then there is this from August this year:

In February ASIC changed its logo. This writer didn't notice at all until this morning - checking for whether he was imagining things at the ACCC.

The old ASIC logo is on the right.

The ASIC change reportedly cost AUD100,000. There is no readily available information about the cost of the ACCC change. According the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) told designers it wanted to be seen as "respected" and having its "finger on the pulse".

The Logo has not been changed (at least so far as we can tell) but the font in which ASIC is set has, to a Serif font. Apparently the old Sans-Serif font did not show well on what Abbot described as "digital channels." How odd, then, that the ACCC has changed from a Serif font to a Sans-Serif font. The ABC reported that the design agency Folk which did the work summarised the old branding as "logo good, font bad." Actually, this author quite liked the "old" one the primary crime of which appears to be that it had not been changed for 20 years.

Then there's the environmental cost. Rebranding is an astonishingly wasteful exercise: there's all the old stationery, and government departments love branding their stationary. Business cards for thousands of staff, envelopes, letterheads, compliments slips (if they still exist), invoices, even the cover sheets that they put on court documents. All in the bin and nice new ones in place one morning.

Then there are those metal and plastic signs that adorn buildings, floors, even the doors of departments. Everywhere brands are announced, logos surely follow.

But "we are introducing the changes gradually as stationery is exhausted and other materials [such as signs and banners] are replaced," corporate affairs director Matthew Abbott said at the time. So, not to put too fine a point on it, the "branding" really isn't vital at all, is it?

The Australian taxpayer is already extraordinarily highly taxed but Australian government waste, of which these examples are merely examples, is rife. Governments are not owner-run companies, they are guardians of the public purse and trust. Waste is a breach of that trust. And profligacy, of which branding and re-branding is perhaps the worst example, is commonplace across governments worldwide. It's time it stopped and that the people made their displeasure felt everywhere, not only in Australia.

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