My story with Dave, the kids, Cooper, VW's & rugby

Wasting Taxpayers Money

I did a post the other day about how Ripon Council demanded a bigger and better Christmas tree as they didn’t think the original one was big enough, and low and behold a new one appears. Now that is a total waste of tax payers money, and to think that people will spend more money in the Ripon shops at Christmas because the tree is bigger is utter nonsense.

Today I have read about another waste. The small Devon resort of Ilfracombe has undergone a rebrand and has spent £5000 on a logo, which is receiving complaints now as part of it looks like a sperm. Take a look…


Now in terms of rebranding a town to generate more tourism, does a Council really think that it takes £5000 to get a good logo? Are they so blinkered that they think they have got good value for money?

Now I know that design is a very subjective thing but we do logo designs at Bronco for clients and charge a hell of a lot less than that. We have also recently had the Bronco logo redesigned and used a professional branding agency who came up with lots of ideas and logos that we could look at and work with to end up with what we have now got… and they charged us a lot less than Ilfracombe paid.


The difference is though that as a business we can decide to redo a logo and spend a good amount of money on it … but I wonder how many townsfolk in Ilfracombe were part of the decision making process to have a new logo created? This is just scratching the surface of how Councils waste money that the taxpayers have given to improve living conditions and services in their area.

I’m sure Ilfracombe has a few budding designers living there who would have been more than happy to provide the town with a logo, if a competition had been set up.


  • Alex Craven

    Hi Becky,

    I’m going to disagree and I think this is one of those things where we in the digital sector often fail to appreciate the expertise in the traditional marketing sector.

    You seem to be saying that a brand is just a logo.. it isnt! A logo is just one visual manifestation of the brand. If you have been through a professional branding excercise then you’ll know that a brand is what the company, town., council is, the brand architecture, proposition, key messaging etc are all determined first and finally the graphical representations of this process are designed.. £5k for a branding process is actually very cheap.

    There was a lot of critisism about the olympic ‘logo’ but critics failed to apprecaite that members of the public were interviewed in every memeber nation, just the project management fee for that would be a 5 or six figure sum.

    At the end of the day what matters is if it works.. their response to the ‘outrage’ seems pretty measured and consistent with the brand values they are expressing so we’ll see.. perhaps all this coverage may be exactly what they hoped for.

    personally I’d give them a break.. £5k isnt a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.. I’d never heard of them before but I’ve just spent 10 mins on google looking at them and who knows perhaps my family will go there for our holiday next year 😉

  • Rich Moore

    Alex, couldn’t agree more.
    A complete rebranding for £5k is very reasonable in my opinion and goes far beyond just the logo. Being from Nottingham, we’ve had a similar controversy over the famous ‘Wonky N’ logo but what isn’t seen is all the development, research and project management let alone creative work that has lead to that final product.

    In my experience, a lot of web designers/developers have little experience of branding and don’t appreciate how long it takes. And vice versa, if I’m honest.

    And, Ilfracombe is a very nice place! And Hele Bay, just down the road too. Had a nice few days there a couple of years back…

  • Becky

    @alex & @rich … I totally understand the concept and costs involved in professional branding and how it goes much further than producing a pretty logo … but my point is when town councils take it upon themselves to spend tax payers money on it. They need to be seeing what local, cheaper, talent is on their doorstep before splashing the tax payers cash.
    With the Ilfracombe logo it doesn’t seem to be being used on the Ilfracombe website .. so where will it be seen and what purpose is it serving?

  • Kean

    £5000 for new branding and the publicity gained from the ‘sperm’ logo may be a suitable sum, but I agree with Becky that an alternative version could have been produced for less money whilst still being of a high quality.

    There is no doubt the publicity the logo has gained will increase awareness and probably tourism in the short term, but this is only due to the controversy of the logo. Without the ‘sperm’ it’s likely the logo would not have such widespread publicity and its benefits alone would be greatly diminished. So you have to remove the publicity from the equation when determining its worth as the council would likely not have expected so much interest when agreeing to the costs in the beginning.

    Some would argue that spending the money brings a level expertise that creates more than just a logo but a visual representation of the town through the logo. Although probably true, many ‘average’ people just won’t see this in the same design professionals will, and for a non-profit organisation such as a town is this extra level of thought and expense really needed.

    Big businesses will spend thousands on branding exercises because they have the available income and they can relate the expenditure to profits, for a council this is not the case. So will the local tax payers see a return on the council’s investment? Or would they rather of had the money used for something all the local people could have benefitted from?

  • NickH

    @alex @rich, £5k wouldn’t be so bad for an outstandingly well done rebrand; good value even.

    However, taking modified Arial Rounded and putting a sperm on it is not worth £5k in my book. I’m sure most would agree that’s an awful logo.

  • nancy

    hmm in what i have read the £5K was for a complete brand which includes a logo and a catalogue of photos. That does sound like a bargain to me. I don’t know what you mean becky about wasting tax payers money? surely a brand for a town will help regeneration and that is good news. Obviously it is only one element of lots of things that should be happening. also i have looked on fresh-bread’s website and they are local so it was given to talent on ‘their doorstep’. I am not really sure of your point?
    In terms of the branding and logo – i think its genius. It has certainly caused intrigue and interest in the town, which was surely the purpose!

  • Carps

    @nancy I’m sure £5k is reasonable amount for a business to spend on a rebrand when you chuck in branded literature and stuff, but the point here is that Ilfracombe Council isn’t a business. It’s an elected body, funded through tax which is supposed to be maintaining certain services.

    £5k is the kind of sum that could have cleaned a dozen streets, transformed a kids’ playground or paid for a nursing home place.

    There’s been a lot of ‘scope creep’ in councils down the years in this direction – largely because a load of branding experts have told towns and cities that they need to.

    Truthfully, most businesses set up near the founder’s home for obvious reasons and rarely move anywhere else. And when they do relocate, it’s normally based on things like infrastructure, population etc which a ‘brand’ does nothing to address.

    Maybe – maybe – a major city like Leeds might be in competition with Manchester or Sheffield when Majorcorp USA are looking to relocate their UK head office, but….

  • timothy rose

    I don’t think the 5g is just for the logo. Publicity professional do a lot of research and have to come out with different design, what the majority could only see the final product not the process. Although hiring a local professional would sound better too but if no one could do a great job then you have to find some where else.