New Branding Brings Parliament into the 21 st Century

The Houses of Parliament has been rebranded UK Parliament, and given an updated logo. But some people are struggling to spot the difference.

King Henry VII knew a bit about branding and logo design. It was his idea to use the crowned portcullis symbol as a badge during his reign from 1485 to 1503, and it has remained more or less unchanged ever since. Today, businesses and organisations are well aware of the role that logo design plays in public perception and brand image. On the one hand, there is an argument that changing something that has been around so long is fraught with risk. On the other hand, however, it is important for public bodies to show they are contemporary and relevant – so a logo that has been around for 500 years or more could do more harm than good.

Updating a classic design

The cynics out there might argue that the new designers have taken both pieces of advice to heart – making some changes to the logo and its wording, but ones that are so minute that you need to examine it carefully to notice – and then charging £50,000 for doing so. However, this is being a little harsh. The point with a classic and familiar logo is that while it definitely needs to be refined and updated time to time, it is always a better idea to make those changes subtle. Think about some of the world’s most famous logos and you will get the idea. For example, the Ford logo is what it is, surely – people even refer to the nation’s most popular carmaker as “the blue oval.” Take a look at Ford badges from over the years, though, and you can see that’s not entirely true, and there have been several updates.

From blue ovals to golden arches, the same applies with the world’s most recognised fast food chain. Not only has Ronald McDonald changed, but so has the logo.

So what’s changed in Parliament?

There are two main changes to the UK Parliament logo. One is in the logo itself. The crowned portcullis is still there, but the dots have been removed and it has been digitally optimised so that it retains its clarity and will scale on different platforms. In this era of mobile optimisation, that is, of course, the first consideration in any kind of logo design or rebranding. The most significant change, however, is in the name itself. The previous name of “The Houses of Parliament” was suggestive of the buildings themselves rather than the services they provide to the UK populace. Changing the name to “UK Parliament” is far more concise. As one parliamentary spokesperson said, it serves to: “highlight the role of the institution in the UK’s constitution, and distinguish it from the building it occupies.”

Within parliament itself, the House of Lords and the House of Commons will continue to retain their existing visual identities. However, for those of us outside the corridors of power, this new rebranding provides a coherent and united image.

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