Riga City Council Shows A Stunning Lack Of Foresight With A Logo & Slogan Competition

While the rest of the world is trying to wise-up to the value of design and creative services and taking steps to avoid “spec-work”, Riga city council and Nils Ušakovs continue to plough head-long into rather embarrassing territory with a logo and slogan competition.

A logo and slogan “for the city” of Riga – yes, the entire city – which was announced by Nils on his personal Facebook and Twitter today – long before it was added to the official website.

As if the spec-work and its hunt “to find the most creative, most modern and more meaningful” ideas for Riga’s visual identity hadn’t already rung enough amateur-hour alarm bells with you, there’s the fact that the terms & conditions to go along with the competition state that the “award-winning works, indicating the author’s name or legal persons, groups of persons or association name will become the contest organiser’s property, giving the right to the contest organiser to use them, as well as modify them without the individual author’s consent.” So not only will they rip you off for your design, they’ll be able to do whatever they like with it, without consulting you first.

Even setting aside qualms about spec-work, are they really expecting to get a logo and slogan to represent the city for a somewhat measly few grand? Have they seen the going rate? (think, tens and hundreds of thousands, even millions)

Do they realise how much work goes into designing something that has to represent an entire city and its people? Have they thought about the extensive research and data-gathering, benchmarking, concept development and everything else involved in an effective branding exercise? Do they realise that branding a city isn’t just a logo and tagline?

No. They’ve likely just thought about how little they can get away with paying someone, and avoided having to deal with any creative or creative agency, with their silly “fees” and tiresome “costs” and just gone straight to the people they can get away with fobbing-off with a nominal fee: The general public, who Riga city council seem to think will perform any sort of professional task if they dangle the carrot of cash in front of their noses.

A city’s brand is developed over years by its policies and its amenities and a glorified marketing effort isn’t going to change that for the better.

This is a brand that the world will see. Visitors and potential investors to Riga, businesses both here and abroad, other councils and governments. It is hard to put a value on something thats intended use is so wide – but I can guarantee you a couple of grand doesn’t even come close.

Perhaps more the point, why are we spending even a few grand on a new logo and slogan when we have enough problems to deal with as it is?! What sort of priorities do Nils and the gang have?

Cost-aside, and irrelevant of the actual number of Euros prize-money someone will get, let’s just consider the hours and hours of wasted work that people will go through designing something they would like to enter. Who covers the cost of that?

How about the fact that the winning entry will be unlikely to have had more than a few hours at best put into it. No designer who knew what they were doing would enter the competition.

And when it is a competition – nobody in their right mind is going to spend more than a few hours on something that might not win. Unless they’ve got time to waste – and I’m sure those with time to waste will be the best people for the job. Of course they will. hah.

Oh and “The tender evaluation committee has the right to reject all offers and ideas” so you can work your butt off, but they might just turn round and ignore all of them anyway.

Sounds like a really fair deal. NOT.

So what we’ll end up with is lots of wasted work and effort, a logo which hasn’t had nearly enough work put in (and certainly no context, research or development), a slogan which will not have been written by an informed copywriter but by your average have-a-go-Harry, and another national embarrassment on our hands.

Surprise, surprise, Riga city council are making another ridiculously uninformed decision about something which will make Latvia look like we still don’t have a clue.

I for one, am excited to see how this one pans out.

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