Rubinden Kumar

Designing a national branding for Malaysia

Abstract

National branding is always a challenging task especially when designing a simple logo that communicates about a country’s identity and sending the message to the world to see. It is the primary focus on the research. It is to create a design process of a nation branding of Malaysia that coveys the qualities symbolise of what makes a country unique. It is also will be a great exercise to understand and gain new knowledge in designing a brand for a nation in my future career as a brand designer.

In earlier January 2018, the Tourism board of Malaysia (2018) held a press conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand to launched their tourism campaign, Visit Malaysia 2020 (Tourism Malaysia, 2018). During the press conference, the minister launched the logo as a part of the campaign. After hours from its launch, many of Malaysian netizens were expressing their frustration and disappointed on the official Visit Malaysia 2020 logo as the netizen was not expecting the craftsmanship of the logo to be backdated and immature for the time of its year.

They were surprised by the government’s action on accepting the logo as it is not reflecting Malaysia (Tan, 2018). Many news outlets and social media portals were sharing the nation’s voice as specific independent design association created a poll to suggest the Minister take action to change the logo. The minister has defended the design as he argued the logo is primarily marketed and targeted to the international tourist and the logo communicates well for holiday marketing. The concerns have occurred to most Malaysian who lives in and outside Malaysia as the image of Malaysia degraded and lost in confidence.

The question in this research project is to seek an understanding of Malaysia’s strongest personality trait and create a nation branding. Hence the main research question is: How to design a national branding for Malaysia?

This research project aims to explore the fundamental on national branding in Malaysia as to develop a brand system which can be apply to for future use such as Malaysia’s states brands. It is also to explore on designing a national branding that communicate the Malaysia’s nation strength as the recent Visit Malaysia 2020 logo did not achieve to do. It will also allow me to explore the design process of a national branding especially in Malaysia where the exploration of design process of a brand identity is not a forte in the industry. Conducting this research will benefit to educate and guide the future brand designers as it will manifest a new understanding and a learning curve on designing anational identity that communicate well to the nations and internationally.

  • In this phase, I began with the question of "what is Malaysia?" by brainstorming or mind-mapping to categories. This process allows me to identify Malaysia in-depth and a possible direction to design nation branding. With that, I have broken down to 3 processes: The categories lists, collages of inspirations, initials design development.
  • In this phase, I began with the question of "what is Malaysia?" by brainstorming or mind-mapping to categories. This process allows me to identify Malaysia in-depth and a possible direction to design nation branding. With that, I have broken down to 3 processes: The categories lists, collages of inspirations, initials design development.
  • Being stucked and lost in Phase 1, I took a step back by reading Wally Olin's  "Brand New" and he wrote about the design process of national branding and the target audiences for national branding. By understanding the national branding process, I created a design brief that narrows down the problem, the objective & the goal. Having the design brief, I created 3 potential designs development.
  • Being stucked and lost in Phase 1, I took a step back by reading Wally Olin's "Brand New" and he wrote about the design process of national branding and the target audiences for national branding. By understanding the national branding process, I created a design brief that narrows down the problem, the objective & the goal. Having the design brief, I created 3 potential designs development.
  • In this phase, I took 2 of 3 potential designs, which are the butterfly & logotype. The reason of selecting those potential designs are because of:

The butterfly:

Malaysia as a multiracial country, identify and applies its national representation in most of the official branding. Most Malaysia national representation uses the Bunga Raya (hibiscus) and Malaya Tiger to show the unity of Malaysia and the strength of the country.
Representation needs to reflect the idea of transformation, growth and a new beginning. Thus, the Rajah Brooke butterfly is a significant representation to reflect the new beginning of Malaysia.

The language (logotype):

Malaysia is best known for its multiverse languages as we are living in a multicultural country. And being Malaysian, conversing in Manglish is what makes us united as a nation and a unique country. What if we embrace Manglish and bring it to the next step?

With the rationale, I further developed those direction and applied to selected touchpoints to better communicate the national brand locally & international.
  • In this phase, I took 2 of 3 potential designs, which are the butterfly & logotype. The reason of selecting those potential designs are because of: The butterfly: Malaysia as a multiracial country, identify and applies its national representation in most of the official branding. Most Malaysia national representation uses the Bunga Raya (hibiscus) and Malaya Tiger to show the unity of Malaysia and the strength of the country. Representation needs to reflect the idea of transformation, growth and a new beginning. Thus, the Rajah Brooke butterfly is a significant representation to reflect the new beginning of Malaysia. The language (logotype): Malaysia is best known for its multiverse languages as we are living in a multicultural country. And being Malaysian, conversing in Manglish is what makes us united as a nation and a unique country. What if we embrace Manglish and bring it to the next step? With the rationale, I further developed those direction and applied to selected touchpoints to better communicate the national brand locally & international.
  • Artefacts

  • Select Bibliography

    1. Olins, W, 2014, ‘Brand New: The Shape of Brands to Come’, Chapter 7 National Prosperity and Nation Branding, pp 132-153; Thames & Hudson, original published in 2014.

    2. Donnie, K, 2008, ‘Nation Branding: Concepts, Issues, Practice’, Chapter 1: The Relevance, scope and evolution of nation branding, pp 13-30; Butterworth-Heinemann original published in 2008.

    3. Jordan, P, 2014, ‘Nation Branding: A Tool for Nationalism’, Journal of Baltic Studies, original published 2014.