CANAL COL­UMN

Award-win­ning cur­rent af­fairs TV pro­ducer, jour­nal­ist and au­thor who has been a boat owner for more than 40 years

Canal Boat - - Contents -

Steve Hay­wood is unim­pressed by the new CRT logo - and the way that it’s been launched

Okay, I know that the new Canal and River Trust logo only cost a nig­gardly £60,000 which is peanuts by to­day’s cor­po­rate stan­dards. I know too that even this pal­try sum came from the Trust’s ex­ist­ing mar­ket­ing bud­get, which is any­how only one per cent of C&RT’s bud­get. Even so, there’s some­thing about the launch of the logo that’s dis­turbed me.

Part of it, of course, is that it’s such an ap­pallingly bad logo it’s dif­fi­cult to see how any­one with any de­sign sense could have ap­proved it. This blue hole with a few lines un­der­neath would make a tol­er­a­ble em­blem for a wa­ter com­pany – but one that puts wa­ter in taps, not one that puts peo­ple on wa­ter. It could be a great badge for a new un­der­ground line too – the River Line, per­haps? – since it owes so much to the clas­sic Lon­don un­der­ground logo that it’s al­most a rip-off. But for a char­ity, the pri­mary func­tion of which is the pro­tec­tion of the her­itage of the wa­ter­ways, it’s dread­ful. It com­mu­ni­cates noth­ing of the pas­toral seclu­sion which is the big­gest at­trac­tion of the canals, and the ref­er­ence it makes to the canal bridge of the old lo­gos re­duces this iconic im­age – fa­mil­iar to mil­lions – to a mean­ing­less cir­cle.

Worse, the new logo doesn’t even carry any­thing of C&RT’s new mes­sage which it’s push­ing as part of its re­brand­ing – the mes­sage that canals can some­how be linked to the health of the na­tion. So where’s the health mes­sage in this im­age? Where’s any ref­er­ence to the ‘Nat­u­ral Health Ser­vice’ about which C&RT chair­man Al­lan Leighton has re­cently been trum­pet­ing in­com­pre­hen­si­bly? Frankly, I wouldn’t walk into a chemist with a logo as bad as this.

It’s no use Al­lan dis­miss­ing the out­cry that has greeted the launch of the logo by say­ing that he’s never known a new one be in­tro­duced with­out peo­ple say­ing it’s ter­ri­ble, and ar­gu­ing that it had to change be­cause ‘I could give you a list of or­gan­i­sa­tions that have never changed and died.’ Well Al­lan, I could give you a list of or­gan­i­sa­tions that have changed their logo and then had to change them back again when the ap­palling im­port of what had been done even­tu­ally dawned on their obliv­i­ous man­age­ments. In­deed there are so many duff lo­gos which have had to be scrapped, there are web­sites about them.

A re­cent one was Leeds United Foot­ball Club which in Jan­uary in­tro­duced a new logo of a shield fea­tur­ing the arm of a bloke who looked as if he was muscling to get a pint at a bar. This month the logo was scrapped af­ter a fu­ri­ous re­sponse by sup­port­ers and an on­line pe­ti­tion that gar­nered some 50,000 sig­na­tures ob­ject­ing to it. I men­tion it only be­cause Mr Leighton was once deputy chair­man of the club which he still sup­ports. You’d think he’d have learned, wouldn’t you?

But then you’d think af­ter a stel­lar ca­reer in man­age­ment that has taken him to the very top of the tree that Al­lan might have learned a bit about pub­lic re­la­tions too – and this is the as­pect of this logo launch that’s trou­bled me most. Call me old-fash­ioned, but it’s bad enough hear­ing the wa­ter­ways which so many of us have loved and cher­ished for so long re­ferred to as ‘a brand’ and ‘a prod­uct’; more of­fen­sive is to hear it likened to a choco­late bar as he did in a re­cent in­ter­view which was ter­ri­ble PR for any C&RT chair­man.

This is not big busi­ness we do on the cut. We’re in it for the fun and we love the canals more than you ever loved your choco­late bars. Lighten up a bit. En­joy them with us.

More im­por­tantly try and un­der­stand how we feel. We’ve only just got used to be­ing told we only rep­re­sent just a frac­tion of ‘the cus­tomers’ who use the cut when in truth we know we are your ONLY true cus­tomers be­cause, give or take a fish­er­man or two, we are the only ones who give you our hard earned cash in re­turn for a ser­vice.

And re­mem­ber, when the chips are down, it’s us, not the new­com­ers you’re seek­ing to at­tract, who’ll be the ones fight­ing for the fu­ture of the cut as we have been for the past 70 years.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Cut­dreamer

The CRT stand at Crick

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