This mark marking project was completed as part of my Masters of design, focusing on the process of design and branding.
The Australian Greens party was established in Tasmania during the 1970’s as a protest based organisation. The green triangular sticker with the words “No Dams” written in the middle came to prominence in the environmental protests of the 1980’s, where organised resistance and the use of public relations were successful in promoting the green cause (Hughes, 2003, p.1873).
The use of the name “Greens” and its choice of colour gave the party its unique selling proposition that would help ensure its sustainable competitive advantage.
The brand association with green was opposed to colours used by its competitions: the Liberals blue, Labor’s red, and the Democrats yellow. The colour is also an extrinsic clue for voters or consumers as it infers attributes about the party.
When the party formed, its name and colour was closely linked to the simple platform of the party, ecological integrity. As the current party platform has changed, the branding needs to reflect this growth and expansion of party ideology.
As the name “Greens” is closely linked with environmental policy, the expansion of the party should also signal a potential change of name, away from a single message of green. However this would take considerable time and a slow shift approach would be recommended to avoid alienating their existing membership. The messaging of their current policies needs to be solved before moving into a complex change of party name.
Today the Greens state their core beliefs as ecological sustainability, grassroots participatory democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence (Standing Up For What Matters, 2013, p.6). They have moved beyond pure environmental and green policies yet their branding does not reflect this.
This brand refresh sought to reposition the Greens with their current beliefs and expand from their grassroots origins. As the Greens launch new policies that aren’t closely based around the environment, they could suffer from interference effects where voters or consumers might continue to think of the brand in the ‘old’ way because of strong memory associations. This could be overcome with a new branding concept, incorporating a strategy to refresh the mark but retain supporters and the essence and history of the Greens brand.
The mark making process began with investigating the form of the logo with the history behind the brandmark. This allowed an understanding of the significance of the mark and what it has represented over the years, including environmental victories such as Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef and the Tasmanian Wilderness (Hughes, 2003, p.1875).
The audience stereotype of ‘basket weaving greenies’ or ‘Tasmanians with beards’ has changed over the years and the Greens now represent those disillusioned with the major parties and who care about social issues, not just environmental ones. The Greens current audience is predominately older middle class environmentalists and young inner city urbanites (Hughes, 2003).
The Greens logo needs to express their growth, from both an audience and policy perspective.
Aim: Promote the social policies of the Greens party while still maintaining their dedication to grassroots environmentalism.
Vision: Expand the triangle shape of the current Greens logo. The shape is a point of differentiation and recognition that retains so much history and value for the brand.
Audience: Those voters who may not be particularly interested in environmental protest movements but whose values align with current green policy, particularly around social policy, human rights and the treatment of refugees in Australia.
The design process
The design process incorporated shapes into the existing triangle, adding a sense of hierarchy, layering and expansion. Forms were both added to the current shape and incorporated within it. Reoccurring designs throughout the process highlighted key ideas and potential outcomes. I kept returning to these shapes after following other paths. This reinforces their viability as a solution. Numerous design paths seemed to lead to similar outcomes.
Colour was used to suggest a growth of the Greens party and their expansion beyond environmental policies. Their current colour alignment to purely representing the green side of policy doesn’t reflect their current position of no longer just supporting environmental concerns.
When comparing the Greens colour with that of the major political parties in Australia, a dominant blue and red is highly prominent. To position the Greens as a major contender to these parties, particular aspects of their logos need to be incorporated into the Greens new look to more align them into the same respected category.
These expansions of colour were predominately within a similar green colour scheme, but incorporated a professional corporate blue. This signalled a core base of green policy still within the Greens party but an expansion into more populist policies of the major parties, such as economic policy and national security.
These colours were then implemented on the iterations of form and the ideas I felt were most fitting with the new brand strategy. These core ideas were then presented for critique and feedback.
From user testing, the key point of feedback was around colours, with the addition of blue and green variations aligning better with the major parties but still allowing a considerable differentiation. Additional key points of feedback included keeping the font element the same to maintain a sense of integrity and continuity with the current logo. All participants agreed retaining the triangle shape is crucial and allows an easy association with the Greens party. Some participants thought a sense of growth within the party would be best achieved through the use of more triangles, rather than using additional shapes or gradient layers. Participants also suggested just adding one additional colour to the logo.
From user-testing, two designs were further investigated in terms of colours, leading more towards colours from the natural environment and particularly from the Australian bush; the gum leaf, the eucalyptus and the bluegum.
This then left two possibilities, ‘the pyramid’ (on right) utilising overlapping colours within the triangle shape which represents a hierarchical direction of the new Greens, with green still the predominant colour, but now sitting on a base of blue (more aligned with the major parties). It’s structure suggests a building upon of the current logo, with the core idea behind the shape that the Greens are now on a new political platform, incorporating more than just environment policies.
The second option, ‘building blocks’, was the integration of more smaller triangles onto the current shape, signalling new additions and new growth to the party and its’ expansion beyond just environmental policy. This design appears more inclusive than the ‘pyramid’ and more aligned to the core values and structure of the party.
Final brand mark
Growing upon the current logo is a nice concept that instil ideas that the Greens is expanding beyond pure environmental policy. The mark still retains its roots with the Green triangle, but opens up to more possibilities with an expanded colour palette and additional building blocks to add to its brand positioning and brand collateral. I see the expansion of the colour palette being used across all communications, with each section of the whole standing for one component of the party, whether it be brand pillars, policy or values.