Aurora Magazine

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Just not good enough

Updated Jul 31, 2017 03:52pm
Why the official logo for Pakistan’s 70 years of Independence falls short of expectations.

Form follows functionality – this is a mantra that is drilled into all graphic designers. And there is no reason to forget it or pretend it is not important.

The official logo for Pakistan’s 70 years of Independence, for which Saba Zaman won Rs 500,000, is a vector logo taken from Shutterstock, a stock photos and vector site every designer uses from time to time.

Web designers sometimes take icons, small graphics or standardised templates from Shutterstock and similar websites. Branding specific designers can use these websites for iconography if they are in a hurry. And then there are the designers who download vectors as they are, and use them as they are, without any attempt to make them their own.

There were allegations that this logo was taken from Shutterstock, and some helped deny it. However, plagiarism aside, when assessing a logo purely from an academic point of view, you may ask several questions, including: Is it original? Does it look like something you have never seen before? Is it reflective of what the brand wants to achieve? These are logical questions designers must answer before zipping their work off to their clients. Unfortunately, when it comes to the 70th anniversary logo, the answer is probably “no” on all counts.

Furthermore, the image was stretched, which doesn’t really help matters. However, my real question to Saba Zaman who designed it and Anusha Rahman who picked it is: what was it about this logo that made it worthy of a Rs 500,000 prize?


"When assessing a logo purely from an academic point of view, you may ask several questions, including: Is it original? Does it look like something you have never seen before? Is it reflective of what the brand wants to achieve? These are logical questions designers must answer before zipping their work off to their clients. Unfortunately, when it comes to the 70th anniversary logo, the answer is probably “no” on all counts."


Some designers like to use “the golden ratio” (which was developed during the Renaissance and is the ideal formula to create balance in any piece of design), while others are more avant garde and less inclined to keep this classic ratio in mind – but this logo, with the colourful crescent and the serif font – has neither the balance nor the flair to justify a break from the rules of design.

Many people could find themselves in agreement with the notion that the internet has not helped foster creativity in Pakistan, as it makes plagiarism live comfortably within the territory of “inspired”. And it would be incorrect to say that there are no good designers in Pakistan, or that this logo has the cutting edge presence to commemorate Pakistan’s 70th year of independence.

This logo poses several questions that should be discussed, including: “How long will Pakistani design continue to exist within the mediocrity that surpasses all levels of acceptability?”

For people who write emails in Comic Sans and expect a reply, there is a good possibility you are included in this. People who use Lucida Handwriting and Zapfino, you too are included.

Alia Chughtai is an interactive journalist, specialising in visual journalism and infographics. Typographically right aligned, she tweets at @AliaChughtai