I live in the borough of Amber Valley. It’s a pretty place with some history (thanks to Mr Strutt and his Mills ). It was also the setting for the popular, long running but exceedingly dull ITV show Peak Practice.
In 2011 and with little fanfare but a lot of smugness, Amber Valley updated their logo and web site. The smugness came from the news that the logo and site “Hasn’t cost the tax payer anything” as it had been designed by the in house team. I assume the in house team are paid, so it’s a bit disingenuous to shout about it not costing, some one was paid for their time to create the new image.
I’ve no issue with in house teams creating design, I worked as an in house designer for about 7 years. What I do have issue with is when what’s created is so uninspiring. It’s a huge leap forward on the previous attempt, which was simply awful. Attempting to crowbar 4 local images in. The illustrations are basic (I think they are Heage Windmill, Hot Air Balloons, Crich Stand and East Mill Belper), the lines are far too thin to reproduce well and they have no charm at all.
The new effort tries to move from representing the borough in pictures, to using the A and V of the name. The A of the logo in particular looks terrible and exceedingly awkward, I don’t understand why the darker green shape fills the bottom of the letter, and the opening in the A looks too high and unbalances it.
Then swooshes, the unacceptably lazy solution of the uninspired. Yes they represent the hills of the area, but they are still swooshes, and the way one cuts into the A only adds to how terrible it looks.
And lets not let that loose tracking get away without mention. Set in what I think is Helvetica bold and regular, there’s enough room to pass a hot air balloon between each of the characters of Amber Valley and Borough Council, and it doesn’t make me happy.
Still it’s a step forward from before. The council also still uses the old school heraldry logo on some things, I’ve no idea what the criteria is to use which logo. It’s got a bit more clout than the latest effort, who doesn’t like Unicorns and Leopards?
And congratulations to the sign maker turning the last logo into this sign. It’s still rubbish, but good show!
Ending on a positive note, Derbyshire Dales, a neighbouring council has captured the whole hill idea with a much better solution.
This article is the first in a series of 3 articles about local authority branding that first appeared in 2011 on the Derby Graphic Design site, they find a more comfortable home here on Logocurious.