current writings on all things

Design-related Governmental Waste

InFocus_government     In another example of bureaucratic lollygagging and waste, one does not have much further to look than to the state of Kansas. In the past year the state has spent an insane amount of money for two high profile design projects that turned out to be flops (in this author's opinion, of course).   The first undertaking was the development of a new slogan and tagline for the state’s tourism office. After spending an estimated $700,000 with the advertising agency Callahan Creek, located in Lawrence, the result was “Kansas: As big as you think.” The new logo is simply a font, Futura, stretched horizontally. A star with a flowing, ribbon like tail completes the new mark. While there were no doubt many committees, focus groups and voices vying for attention during the creation of this piece, I find it difficult to accept that almost three-quarters of a million dollars of taxpayer, yours and mine, went to this effort, and this is what we have to show for it.   KU LogoThroughout 2005, the University of Kansas undertook a tremendous effort to unify all of the school’s existing marketing collateral into one identity. LandreyMorrow, a marketing firm from Portland, Oregon, was commissioned by the school to develop the new identity using the letters “K” and “U”. After narrowing the field of concepts to four designs, feedback was gathered from current and prospective students, as well as alumni (including this critic). The result of this $88,900.00 expenditure by the University was four finalist designs, all type-based solutions using the Trajan typeface. None were conceptual in execution.   Why the university, which has its own School of Fine Arts with talented design students and staff, didn’t commission its own resources is beyond me. Someone inside and familiar with the university would have been able to develop a more appropriate and unique solution to the problem, and at a far lower cost. What is even more surprising is that one of the finalist designs is the exact same mark as another, smaller college in Pennsylvania, Kutztown University. And what did they pay for their logo with similar scope of work? $20,000. Now that’s an example of money well spent in my book.   By: Ryan Hembree, principal | creative director