Monday, January 26, 2009

Brand Oman

Last night Oman finally launched the country's official branding in a grand event which you can read about on Sangeetha's blog. Discussion immediately followed in the comments on her blog as well as on follow up posts on Blue-Chi, Arun and Kishor's blogs. The branding was done by Landor, who were originally contracted by the government for this exercise back in November 2004. I am not sure what caused the four year delay, if anyone out there knows I would love to know.

Decyphering the logo:
  • The symbol incorporates the name Oman, calligraphically rendered in Arabic

  • The extreme right arc symbolises the 'ship' befitting maritime glory of Oman

  • The center arc denotes the silhouette of the majestic 'mountains' of Oman

  • The bottom arc depicts the rich 'marine environment' of Oman

  • The left extreme curly arc represents the smoke of Omani 'frankincense'
My view (as previously posted as a comment on Arun's blog and later amended on Sangeetha's):

Something in the logo just isn’t right. It’s off somehow, but I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly about it that’s off. 1) It is a weirdly non-symmetrical pattern. 2) It leads your eye to its left. Even when told that it is Arabic caligraphy, my eye still went from left to right. It flows that way. 3) It looks more like sanskrit than Arabic to me. 4) If I wasn't told it was Arabic writing, I would have assumed it was just a drawn logo that didn't make sense. In a word, gibberish. 5) Why in the world does a logo need to be explained(I mean come on, who has the time)? 6) Most importantly, the colors are cold. There’s no warmth in them. Uninviting, that's the word that comes to mind. These are colors for a corporate logo, not a country.

I find it strange that Oman's national symbol, the khanjar, has been removed from Oman Air and hasn't been used in the country's own branding. Someone apparently in the know has commented on Sangeetha's blog that the government is conciously distancing away from the khanjar as a national symbol because it is a weapon since we are living in a "sensitive" world. If I was involved in the branding exercise, I wouldn’t have agreed with the thought process which analyzes the khanjar as a weapon. Most countries only dream of having as strong a national symbol as the Omani khanjar. I refuse to believe that they couldn’t think of variations on the theme. They could have tried to redraw the khanjar, or use it as an inspiration for a new logo. Oman Air went for an extremely generic logo which is apparently based on smoke from burning of incense. Smoke, on a plane?!!!! And now brand Oman is Arabic calygraphy?

Another thing, I would have marketed Oman simply as Oman, not Sultanate of Oman.


Tarek said...

very ugly indeed!
Arabic calligraphy? where???

(btw, lebanese currently in mascat for a month - thanks for the blog, very interesting for a foreigner)

Wardat_il'7leej said...

I agree with you about the comments you made about the logo.

Actually at 1st glance i actually thought that the word 'Allah' was being used for the logo.

Um Faisal said...

I find it cold. Not warm and inviting as a country logo should be. And I do agree, it looks more like a corporate logo.

Meteor said...

LOL, you know i couldn't find the calligraphicly written Oman, untill you said "it leads your eye to the left", i just figured out that i was tring to read from the left and it's an arabic world

i agree with your comment but what do you mean by it's non-symmetric? if you man it's geometricaly non-symmetric what is the problem with that?

and about the Khanjar being a WEAPON, i just find this idea stupid

and i agree about the logo being more like a corporate logo

Kishor Cariappa said...

My friend, who had attended the workshop organised by Oman Brand Management Unit sometime back, says HH Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, CEO of Oman Brand Management Unit, was against Sultanate of Oman being referred to as just “Oman”. He went on to add that there were only two sultanates in the world today (other being ‘Sultanate of Brunei’), and a mere reference as “Oman” is often confused with Amman or Yemen.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points all around. I agree with some of your points, in that its cold and there should be mention of the khanjar. Despite this I think its quite a nice logo, overall.

The question is, is a 'nice' logo enough? Its always hard to come up with something that everyone will like - downright impossible. I like this one, but I'm not sure it should be the "symbol" we see - I dont think its strong enough.

"The Sultanate Of" certainly lengthens it, and I did agree with what you were saying about just calling it "Oman", but reading the last comment, about HH Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, I have to say he's probably right. It gives it a certain strength.

Sangeetha Sridhar said...

According to history since the beginning of Renaissance in 1970, the official name is Sultanate of Oman (called Muscat and Oman before).

ColOman said...

when I look at this logo, beach, desert, moutains, or water does not come to mind..........

For a logo.............. Oman is all you need write, in a fucky way too

Aminah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fahmi said...

If i was a tourist and saw that logo, i would think its arty..dont know what it means...Ahhhh its for a country called The Sultanate of oman..Dont know nothing about it..but it looks like an artsy place to go (thats called type casting and only getting a certain demograph)
Will this help our tourism industry percentage up..with other factors yes) but my worry is for how long, then we have to create a new logo.
I think this is on the right track, but it only represents one of the faces of our country..cuz hell yeah..who needs a logo explained.

Re the name Oman..In time the name will be predominant enough that they will mistake ammman or yemen for oman..this is not idealistic...Dubai eclipsed UAE ;P
ok..may be a little bit

any ways..another nicely written article.

Rogue_Titan said...

If find the initial response to the new logo to be awfully negative. I guess people are stuck in their old ways. I must say that there are many big brands that were shunned for their "vague" meaning.

Every branding experience is an education. Apparently people here love the Khanjar, which is fair, if you wear it!

The khanjar is but one of the things that say, "I am Omani". Oman is due to break away from the old image. We need to embrace new colours for that sake.

Plus we are the Sultanate of Oman. Is that too difficult to say! That in itself carries more history than the colours, for example.

As for the design, It is only one element. We need to educate the public of what it means, just like any other brand.

This logo is just one of the facets of the whole "Sultanate of Oman" promotional agenda.

Why don't we allow it to pan out and then evaluate the experience constructively.

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