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“Diamonds in the Rough”

I rarely attempt to describe countries in my own words, especially those I have never been to, so here’s Lonely Planet‘s take: “Rough around the edges, superlative in its natural beauty, rugged, vexing, complex and slightly nerve-racking, Bolivia is one of South America’s most diverse and perplexing nations.” And here’s a link to the Wikipedia page. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Communication introduced a new country brand for Bolivia, designed by the Madrid, Spain-based office of Futurebrand.

A microsite for the new brand can be found here. It’s in Spanish but not very insightful anyway, so you are not missing much. If you like CSS-based animations tho, then it’s a treat.

Confronted with the perception barrier that constitutes their external image; which is anchored in stereotypes (corruption, insecurity, etc.), Bolivia has decided to manage its image in an active way through the creation of a country brand.

The challenge was to attract flows of capital and people, in all its areas of activity and in short, to project its capacity to achieve political, economic, and social stability by showing its uniqueness against other countries within its environment.

Futurebrand project page

Introduction to the new brand. In Spanish. There is some design stuff shown starting at the 1:31 mark.

The new values around which the brand is articulated are: “Mother Nature”, “Equality for all”, “Living essence”, “Exemplarity for the world”. Through these values, the brand capitalizes on its past and projects itself into the future at the same time.

The new brand, which has been tested at the global level, reflects the country´s color richness and diversity, which is why a lively identity has been chosen. Its icon transmits movement and portrays a country which is developing and growing.

Futurebrand project page

New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand
New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand
Logo explanation.
New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand
Icon on a photo.

The old logo was terrible, with atrocious typography made worse by inconsistent and amateurish decoration on the characters and looking more like an amusement park logo than one representing a country. The new logo, at least at first glance, looks more professional and like it means business. Unfortunately, on closer inspection it’s confusing, unclear, generic, and unbalanced.

The graphic that explains the meaning of each diamond could be of value if the interpretation of the points of reference were more interesting and not look like they were pulled from different graphic libraries; the top and right ones look like they cam from one place, the bottom and left ones from another. Then there are the four triangles on the inside that are heavy, distracting, and void of meaning… if at least they pulled the colors from flag or something. The icon improves when used as a single color because it reduces the amount of visual noise but, still, it’s too many fuzzy elements.

The wordmark is sort of okay and I can appreciate the triangle finding its way to the crossbar of the “A” but nothing too exciting. And I don’t know if we ignore the tagline “Corazón del Sur” (Heart of the South) or not but let’s not: The script font is yet another element that adds little meaning to the logo yet adds more design stuff that’s not necessarily needed nor complementary to what’s already there.

New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand
Business cards.
New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand
New Logo and Identity for Bolivia by Futurebrand

The applications showed some promise, with the triangles and diamonds going big and appearing on the corners of the layouts but the color combinations cheapen the look a lot… like a bad casino in Las Vegas. Whatever typeface is being used in the poster above is not the right one as it looks like a telco brand. Overall, this feels like a haphazard attempt at imbuing too much meaning into a logo and comes across as a half-baked identity system.