Setting a new standard
Ad Standards (established as Advertising Standards Bureau in 1998) manages the complaint resolution process of the advertising self-regulation system in Australia. It functions as secretariat for the Ad Standards Community Panel and the Ad Standards Industry Jury – two independent bodies that were established to determine consumer and competitive complaints against the advertising self-regulatory Codes. (About page)
Ad Standards approached CRE8IVE, with whom they’ve had a 10-year relationship, to refresh their brand and reengage with their stakeholders and target market. The focus was on building a clear understanding of its work and that of the complaints handling bodies it manages.
The new logo – a simple visual of a speech/quote mark – aims to reinforce Ad Standards’ role of being a forum for discussion about community standards, of giving all stakeholders a voice and a place where their voices are heard on the subject of advertising content.
The old logo featured a triangular shape, which you don’t see very often in logos. One would infer that it was an abstraction of the A in “Advertising”, but it also reminds me of warning or cautionary road signs of the same shape. And just as drivers are expected to conform to the rules of the road, so too are advertisers expected to comply to a code of ethics. The triangle’s bold black stroke felt masculine and meant business, but I don’t know the meaning of the chartreuse shape within it. It doesn’t detract from the logo, though; if anything, it brought some colour into the logo which added to that “warning” feel.
I do question the triangle’s position on the top-left of the composition. It left a lot of open space on the top-right and bottom-left which could have made it a bit awkward to align; it would have been perfectly fine centred to the left of all three lines of text. But perhaps that’s what made the logo interesting. My only other suggestion would have been to match the width of the triangle’s stroke to the cap height of the text.
And the text itself, an engraver’s-style sans-serif, was sensible and well executed, and is what gave the logo a bit of a freedom to be unconventional with the triangle.
The brand centres on one idea: “your voice matters”. The deliberate use of speech marks conveys an open, dynamic and ever-changing conversation between the industry, community and Ad Standards.
The new logo features a speech mark shape which is adequately rationalised in the media release above. In fact, the more I look at it, the more it looks like a head facing left with a mouth open in mid-conversation. And in the context of the whole logo, its size and position are appropriate.
The text is set in Stolzl, a geometric sans-serif which I find interesting for the shape of its lowercase t; the character has an exaggerated upwards curve to its tail, a style that has become trendy since the release of FF Mark in 2013. Now, normally it would be a type crime to have such a vast difference in the lengths of successive lines of text, in the way that the two words have been separated here. However, it somehow works. There is something very intentional and direct in giving “Ad” its own line, and, in contrast to the old logo, it keeps the design as compact as possible.
The lockups for each of the independent bodies are fine, with the names appended to the logo proper in the same type size and in harmonious colours. And even with the extra words, the quotation mark is more than large enough to be a visual counterbalance.
In application, the speech mark becomes a window or holding shape for photography relevant to the subject at hand. In the examples above, the photos are cropped so that only the most compelling parts are contained in the frame. By withholding extraneous visual information, the remaining imagery become more powerful and engender a sense of intrigue in the viewer. The use of a single-colour halftone effect exaggerates these close-ups and adds a dramatic feel. I would also posit that use of the close-ups also communicates the rigour of the organisation’s advertising review process.
I don’t think the speech mark is used as effectively in examples like the “food advertising” one below, though, where it’s simply a background for a floating image, which in turn obscures the shape of the speech mark.
The execution of the brand identity on stationery is pretty standard; the introduction of a second speech mark to frame various layouts is an unsurprising but suitable element that plays on the voice/conversation/discussion idea.
Overall, this is a nice identity for Ad Standards that certainly supports its aim to facilitate an open dialogue between industry, stakeholders and community. The layouts are clean and the logo and associated typography are unfussy. The true test of the identity will be how far it can push and adapt that speech mark as a visual device before it starts to feel trite. As Ad Standards is not quite a public-facing brand, though, I’m sure the new identity is more than sufficient for its communication needs.