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Grimewatch: Who lives in a London borough like this?

Does your Council’s identity reflect the real story of your London borough?

Martin Grimer, ECD, Aesop Agency takes a ‘look’ through the keyhole.

CAMDEN
Camden, the borough I live in, so I come with some pre-conceptions and baggage. When I see the logo I think parking tickets, council tax bills, bin lorries… On closer inspection it has the look of a recycling logo – so perhaps the bin lorry association isn’t too far off the mark. From what I can establish it’s actually interlinked ‘Lego hand’s, I guess projecting community and working together? Considering Camden’s bohemian, creative and slightly grungy vibe this austere, functional black and white mark doesn’t really fly for me and it certainly doesn’t reflect the diverse and colourful community that Camden’s famous for.

HACKNEY
A not-so-subtle reminder to lock your doors? For all intents and purposes this is an identity for a locksmith’s. Black and white, bold sans serif and a weird ‘H’ rivet keyhole logo. Neither welcoming or reflective of a revived and happening Hackney. More hip replacement than hip-ster…

HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM
At first glance this looks like an identity for an Estate Agents – a lower case h&f complete with a floaty ribbon (kite?) flying off. Far from iconic, at least there’s some colour and a nod to contemporary. When I look at it I get ‘outdoorsy’, parkland, – which reminds me, I need to walk the dog.

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA
By ‘Royal Appointment’ (don’t you know), with a crest to prove it and a palette of royal blues and classic typography. It feels considered, a borough of discernment. As I write this I feel the need to doff my (metaphoric) hat – definitely a borough I can’t afford to live in.

LEWISHAM
More Lidl than Lewisham. Enough said.

SOUTHWARK
This one is a throwback to those 80’s wine bar identities. Scripty, neon-esque type with a flowing underscore. Stringfellows anyone?

CITY OF WESTMINSTER
Is this the Met Police logo? Feel like I’m being watched.

WANDSWORTH
Reminiscent of the 70’s kids TV show ‘Rainbow‘ – a colourful crescent soars over Battersea Power Station with the line ‘The brighter borough’. I love the sentiment, it feels optimistic and cheery it’s just let down by a piece of plonky, prosaic design.

HARINGEY
Continuing the child-like theme, Haringey’s logo is full on pre-school! Kind of Saul Bass gone wrong. It is clearly trying to be jolly and ‘come and talk to us we won’t bite’, but it feels more like the identity for a children’s hospital. Not sure it’s a very apt reflection of the good burghers of Highgate, Muswell Hill or Crouch End.

EALING
Just dreadful. Yes I get open spaces, greenery, Wombles? Oh no that was Wimbledon… This dire logo looks like it was designed in ‘Word’.

BRENT
Is Brent the first London Borough to come out? It does suffer from being a bit Co-op but at least it’s uplifting and cheery. If you want some fun bring your hot pants out of retirement and head towards Brent!

I guess councils are always going to be conscious of not spending much on their branding and identities, but surely they should reflect the culture and the vibe of the places they represent and the communities that live there. Everyone deserves good design to make them feel proud of where they live, we transform places through architecture so why not by good design too?

Who lives in a borough like this? In most cases it’s hard to tell.