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'
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.