Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on June 6th, 2008

ImageAlmost two weeks ago, the committee for the branding of Lithuania narrowed down their two finalists for logos for Lithuania. The plan of the logos was to be bold and assertive, much like the new bold Lithuania that the government wants to present to the world. This is the second attempt at coming up with a logo, though it is the first attempt since the new “bravery” ethos of the state.

In the first run, I made comparisons between the proposed logos and two logos that used a lot of color—to the point of using the variegation as a point of distinction: that of the Czech Republic and Brazil. The Czech logo is unclear, since I cannot tell if the various voice balloons are different languages or viewpoints. Both have historical weight, but the Prague before Hitler, was, I imagine, a far different Prague than today’s, in terms of multiethnicity.

ImageThe Brazil logo has some similarities to the Lithuanian one, in that both involve polychromatic blending and overlapping, with white letters spelling out the name of the state. For Brazil, though, I joked that the blending was a comment on the multiracial nature of the state, with the white lettering being either a negative cutting out (removing the state from the population), or a subtle reemphasis of white domination.

Then this week the Seimas made their choice. They got rid of the god-awful “LT’S GO!” logo, which left only the desaturated polychromatic minimap logo. Zuokas is quick on the draw:

Suprantu, kad ta alyvinės, rusvai gelsvos spalvų gamos dėlionė yra įdomi, profesionaliai sulipdyta, ir ją kūrusieji turi protingus paaiškinimus, kodėl ir vardan ko tai darė, kad tai naujas žodis dizaino madose ar pan. Gal.

Bet prie ko čia Lietuva ? Kaip tos kaladėlės su jose netvarkingai išsivarsčiusiomis raidėmis atspindi, kas yra Lietuva ?

I’m not a big fan of the logo, either. I still think the simple tree from the last go-round is the best, but this logo does do a few interesting things. First, it asserts the primacy of the Lithuanian State, as opposed to the Lithuanian Nation. This is done in three subtle ways: it does not use the tricolor, which is a nationalist emblem appropriated by the state; it shapes the logo to a rough approximation of the borders of the state, as opposed to the fantasy of a greater ethnic Lithuania; and it asserts the name in English, not Lithuanian, thereby including Lithuania as a general state among a global order of states, not as a particularized state bound by its use of a specific language.

ImageThe other interesting thing it does is break up the state map into separate units. I am not enough of an expert on Lithuania to know if the splits are meant to suggest various cultural/ethnic/linguistic/administrative regions of Lithuania, but I think that that is implied: here is Žemaitija, here is Aukštaitija and so on. But in the blending, it reminds me of the comment on multiracialism implicit in the Brazilian logo. And here, then, the minimap is a comment on the multiethnicity of Lithuania. A logo based on the trispalvė would have been the fascist cry “Lietuva lietuviams!” converted into a marketing slogan. A logo that avoids the tricolor rebuilds the state as a paragon of tolerance.

So that is my answer to Zuoko question about the fantasy of the Republic of Lithuania spelled out by the logo: it is one of inclusion, of political (as opposed to ethnic) borders, and of conviviality, of the possibility of different whatever populations living together. The Czech logo, by keeping the colors separate, maintains the possibility of different people all speaking to each other at the same time but not understanding or listening to each other. The Lithuanian logo forces the different people together, to blend, to merge, to form a unity based not on a single individual color, but, rather, based on the border of the negative space surrounding the colors as a whole.

Zuokas next, however, addresses the attached slogan (not reproduced in the logo): “Sense of Challenge.” I can add another data point to Zuoko understanding that that makes Lithuania out to be a land for extremists and those not concerned with putting in massive efforts to avoid failure (in business). Calling a country “challenging” is very weird, if one is trying to lure people to the country. Even “adventure” would be softer. Though “challenge” is so far afield that it certainly is not a cliché (like “friendly” or “promising” would have been).

So I am still pretty darned ambivalent about this rebranding effort. The logo that they have chosen has grown on me considerably, though I think that the layout of the text (and the drop shadows) is pretty darned inexcusable. But, then, I’m not a design student.

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