Gabey Goh
Apr 27, 2016

Exciting, surprising, enticing: Kuala Lumpur’s new brand identity invites online mockery (updated)

MALAYSIA - The unveiling of capital city Kuala Lumpur’s new brand identity has received a very warm welcome—from netizens who quickly fired up their comment skills to mock it. Turns out the new logo cost the city US$3,863.

Exciting, surprising, enticing: Kuala Lumpur’s new brand identity invites online mockery (updated)

[Story has been updated to include comments from Kuala Lumpur mayor and budget of the rebranding exercise.]

During an event on 25 April, mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin launched the new brand identity: “Kuala Lumpur: exciting. surprising. enticing. A City of Contrasts & Diversity”.

In a report by The Star, Amin Nordin said the new branding was “a summation of the city’s key attributes and leveraged on its diverse attractions, contrasted with Kuala Lumpur’s many old and new charms.”

“By successfully branding Kuala Lumpur, we will be able to stimulate tourism, investment, job opportunities, business development and major event hosting,” he added.

The branding effort is aimed at bringing the city to “the forefront of the region’s most popular destinations for business and leisure.”

Signs bearing the words: “Kuala Lumpur: exciting. surprising. enticing.” will be installed at three locations in the city. The first one at Dataran Merdeka, followed by Bulatan Semantan and Jalan Sungai Besi.

Designed by a 12-year-old?

The mayor said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would work with corporations to seek their participation to fund the project.

However, since the unveiling, the new brand identity and logo have met with almost universal scorn.

Online comments ranged from questions around how much was spent on the rebranding exercise to comments about how it runs afoul of good design sense.

Campaign Asia-Pacific collated some of the more colourful comments that could be found online:

  • “A 12 year old in 1997 would be very proud of that logo.” (source)
  • “You gotta be kidding me. My washing machine instruction manual is more exciting than that.” (source)
  • “Was this made in Microsoft Word?” (source)
  • “OMG, that's our new logo? Really? Designed from ppt or word eh? There's a lot of agency out there!” (source)
  • “Well. That certainly has a lot of contrast. And diversity. (in typefaces)” (source)
  • “Who did the design? They had a competition among secondary schools?” (source)
Industry sources tell Campaign Asia-Pacific that the agency behind the rebranding effort is WarisanAd, a local agency founded in 1993 by Dato’ Rosle Bin Jaamat.

According to its website, the agency was and is registered with the Ministry of Finance with a paid-up capital of RM1 million (US$255,405).

When contacted, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed that it is working on the rebranding project and said that next steps for the campaign are currently awaiting client feedback and approval.

In addition to the announced plans for signage around the city, sources told Campaign Asia-Pacific that a TV spot is in the works.

The spokesperson declined to comment about the negative feedback the new brand identity has garnered online and directed further queries to its client.

The Kuala Lumpur Tourism Master Plan 2015-2025, released in November last year, aims to double foreign tourist arrivals and quadruple tourism income from RM19 billion in 2013 to RM79 billion by 2025.

The plans involved the establishment of the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau, to replace the Tourism Unit of DBKL and comprises representative from the city police, the Tourism and Culture Ministry and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

The new bureau was provided with RM16 million as initial funding by DBKL.

Responding to media queries amidst ongoing complaints by netizens over its new logo and branding, mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz on 29 April urged city folk not to jump to conclusions over the Federal Capital’s new logo and tagline that he had launched on Monday to promote tourism.

“The work to finalise the branding took a long time with the feedback from stakeholders from the government and key players from the tourism industry. Everyone was consulted and it went back to the government for approval,” he said in a report by The Star.

When asked at a press conference if DBKL planned on tweaking the logo before using it for promotions, he said: “Fine tune it and all that, yes, yes.”

According to a report by Malay Mail Online, the mayor said “there’s a lot of work to be done.”

“For start, we still need to promote and it will take years to strengthen this logo,” he explained, adding that that it would take “years” to achieve a suitable final product, pointing out that it was no different for those running promotional campaigns for cities like New York and London.

The overall branding exercise is budgeted at RM2.6 million (US$669,835), to be used for road shows, media junkets and other promotional activities.

The new logo and brand master guide promoting Kuala Lumpur as a travel destination cost RM15,000 (US$3,863), the city’s Tourism Bureau general manager Noraza Yusof said.

Due to a budget cut in its branding exercise this year, City Hall’s tourism arm has no plans to change the logo for now despite the public ridicule.

“The budget this year is very tight ... usually for this (branding), the cost could range between RM300,000 and RM1 million,” she said, in a report.

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