Green, gold and grasping for the spirit of Australia – how a logo came to be

By Melissa Coade

March 17, 2022

Austrade logo
The AusTrade logo (Supplied.)

A new logo launched by Austrade has been designed to capture Australia’s ‘nation brand’ and raise the profile of local goods and services to the international market. Here’s the backstory on how the design was created.  

Speaking to The Mandarin, managing director and creative executive of Balarinji Ros Moriarty said the nation brand embraces Australia’s 65,000+ year-old Aboriginal heritage. 

“The new logo is a contemporary and deeply authentic reflection of what our foundational story is as Australians to the world,” Moriarty said.

“It is groundbreaking and timely to have Australia embrace and incorporate Indigenous culture so strongly within our national identity and take it to the world.”

Balarinji, which was responsible for the iconic Qantas campaign which put Aboriginal designs on its aircraft from 1994 to 2018, opted to use a kangaroo on the nation brand also. A forest green background features in the design, with a golden kangaroo which the company says reflects the ‘contemporary and authentic Indigenous Australian narrative’.

“The boomerangs that make up the kangaroo, the spacing of the graphic elements, the way the Kangaroo is bounding forward, and the golden gradient in the colour palette, each give the nation brand a strong Aboriginal signature that celebrates our nation’s foundational narrative,” Moriarty said.  

Austrade’s Kangaroo Mark was inspired by the concept of ‘yamulhu awara ambirriju’, meaning ‘good country up ahead, good feeling for the future’, from the Yanyuwa language spoken by families in Borroloola in the Northern Territory. 

Balarinji’s Moriarty said the design choices for the nation brand were about ‘Australia’s deep Aboriginal heritage and the nation’s irrepressible optimism’.  

“We wanted to create a unique and contemporary expression of such a loved and familiar symbol as the kangaroo, in a way that reflects Australia as a future facing nation. 

“The kangaroo is meaningful to cultural identity in so many parts of Aboriginal Australia. In competing for this work, Balarinji was committed to the symbol being a kangaroo,” she said. 

The development of the logo was led by Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council. Formed in June 2018, the Council includes 11 influential leaders from diverse industries and members who are not paid. Australia’s Nation Brand Expert Working Group also supported the development of the brand, providing expert guidance at each decision point. The group included 11 of Australia’s leading marketing and branding experts from diverse companies.

In pitching to the Australia nation brand brief, Balarinji submitted a number of conceptual directions that aimed to profile Australia in a new way. 

Balarinji’s work is about belonging, where language, culture, knowledge, Dreaming, Law, and Ceremony are interconnected and one with Country, and Moriarty said using an authentic Indigenous narrative of the logo was important for best practice protocols around the use of Indigenous imagery. 

One of the brief challenges was to create a design that was sector-agnostic and likely to be used by many different businesses. More than 480 industry representatives were consulted during the nation brand development process, from advanced manufacturing and defence; food and agriculture; creative arts and services; education; resources and energy; international health; major infrastructure and urban services; services and technology; and tourism and regional development.

“Testing played a large part in the final selections. The Balarinji Mark tested very well across all sectors,” Moriarty said.

“International and domestic research conducted by FiftyFive5 showed the Brand Mark was considered representative of a modern, capable and inclusive country. The majority of Australians surveyed see having an Indigenous design reflected in the nation brand as important,” she said. 

State and territory governments were also consulted throughout the design process, and international and domestic market testing was completed with over 22,000 respondents to inform the brand development through to its final stages. 

“Qualitative and quantitative market testing was undertaken in Australia and in seven international markets (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, UK and USA). Semiotics testing was undertaken to understand any cultural risks associated with the design,” Moriarty said.


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