Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman: Logo change too hard for parts of Super City


The promoters of the pohutukawa logo at Auckland Council will have watched with envy the way the National Bank brand transmogrified overnight this week into that of its master-organisation, the ANZ Bank. No fluffing about. No worries about the cost of replacing old stationery and signs.

In the People's Democracy of Auckland Council, the task of persuading the disparate entities of the new empire that they're now all part of the one big happy family has proved to be like herding cats.

The most patently obvious foot-dragger was Auckland Transport, which instead of embracing the happy red pohutukawa chosen to bring us all together, skulked off on its own and came up with an ugly, dark, fascist-looking "AT" which it is using like "Kilroy was here" graffiti on HOP cards, websites, you name it, to pre-empt any spread of the flower.

The pohutukawa was chosen as the emblem of the new Super City at the time of its birth in 2010. From the beginning, there was reluctance from various parties to this Moonie-like mass marriage to embrace the flower. Even Bob Harvey, chief judge of the logo contest, argued, wearing his new cap of chairman of Waterfront Auckland, to be allowed to retain the existing "W".

A year ago, councillors stamped their feet collectively and resolved that the superbrand would be used in all communications, marketing and advertising by every council-controlled organisation to "reinforce the ownership link with the Auckland Council". Despite this, the foot-dragging continued.

A couple of months ago, the council controlled organisation strategy review subcommittee passed an almost identical resolution - that the pohutukawa logo be incorporated in all CCO communications "to reinforce the concept of one Auckland Council".

Something called the Brand Navigation Group was set up to hurry things along. Somehow, Auckland Transport got away with its defiant AT brand on the grounds that "operational brands have a different function than the pohutukawa brand".

Councillors were also scared off by rumours that incorporating the pohutukawa into reluctant CCO Watercare's branding, would cost millions of dollars. Mayor Len Brown labelled this suggestion "ridiculous", but backed off anyway.

The compromise is that as signs and stationery need replacing, the pohutukawa logo will slowly spread into even the most inhospitable parts of the family.

You might have thought that a good cheap place to start would have been the various family member websites.

Surely planting a standardised floral marker on each home page, like the libraries for example, would at least have shown willing.

But no. The Botanic Gardens could belong to anyone, until you hit the bottom right-hand corner and find it a toss up between the Auckland Council and the New Zealand Government - excuse me, what is it doing there?

Auckland Transport has a begrudging acknowledgment of its parentage, in non-regulation blue, bottom right as well, along with one for the Government.

A Colmar Brunton Survey of 3000 Aucklanders in July shows we are starting to catch on to the pohutukawa connection, with 44 per cent knowing the link with the Super City, double the count a year ago.

Shown the logos for assorted Auckland Council subsidiaries such as Waterfront Auckland, Ports of Auckland, Auckland Airport and HOP, a majority of Aucklanders failed to make the connection to the council.

Luckily for politicians seeking re-election, the polling says the majority of voters seem ignorant about who they should be blaming. Do they really want to change this?

- NZ Herald

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Brian Rudman is a NZ Herald feature writer and columnist.

Brian Rudman's first news story was for Auckland University student paper Outspoke, exposing an SIS spy on campus during the heady days of the Vietnam War. It resulted in a Commission of Inquiry and an award for student journalist of the year. A stint editing the Labour Party's start-up Auckland newspaper NZ Statesman followed. Rudman decided journalism was the career for him, but the NZ Herald and Auckland Star thought otherwise when he came job-hunting. After a year on the "hippy trail" overland to London, he spent four years on Fleet St with various British provincial papers. He then joined the Auckland Star, winning the Dulux Journalist of the Year award for coverage of the 1976 Dawn Raids against Polynesian overstayers. He has also worked on the NZ Listener, Auckland Sun, and since 1996, for the NZ Herald as feature writer and columnist. He has a BA in History and Politics.

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