Why 'Awesome Assam' logo is creative and cultural lethargy of the worst kind

Rini Barman
Rini BarmanSep 09, 2016 | 14:36

Why 'Awesome Assam' logo is creative and cultural lethargy of the worst kind

When I think of ad campaigns that try too hard to do something that they are not good at, I am reminded of Hustle, a British TV drama series created by Tony Jordan.

In the fifth season, we meet Harry and Carlton, entrepreneurs who’ve just acquired the rights to a cutting-edge security device called Spider’s Web. When they hire an expensive PR firm to design a kick-ass media campaign, this is what they come back with. (See screenshot)


In Carlton’s words, "If my company were named Aardvark, I’d expect something more for my 50 grand than a picture of a sodding anteater!" A sodding anteater indeed.

I share similar sentiments at this moment, only in a different cultural context. The state tourism minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma has recently inaugurated its new tourism logo.

For those who don’t know where I am headed with this, I am talking about the ongoing Rs 15-crore promotion campaign called "Awesome Assam." The bright minds behind the campaign have come up with a logo which not only lacks creativity but also adequate research.

It features - no prizes for guessing - a rhino, whose horns lead to some optical illusion, a bud of tea leaves which look more like marijuana, and yes, the mighty sun shining over the blue Brahmaputra. Can it get more clichéd than this?

Can it get more clichéd than this? (Photo: Assam Tourism)

Think about it: If one was asked to design a logo of Jharkhand, would you put a ball of chickpea flour against a background of the Subarnarekha river and some Mahua on the side? How conveniently done!

Now, I will tell you something worse: These contents have been derived directly from the Tourism Logo Vector engine in Google search. The similarity between the two is so stark that one begs to differ with the new government's "genuine" interest in exploring the state’s art and culture.


Though a state’s investments into the tourism industry must go beyond any visual logo, we cannot afford to be so careless. The social media outrage has been rightfully directed at the Delhi-based agency, Square Brand Communication, which was commissioned to create this logo.

Until yesterday (September 9) evening, the team had uploaded the "Awesome Assam" video, which showed a two-horned rhinoceros (Geography fail, check) emerging with a single-horn in the final logo. Even rhinos will be displeased with a bizarre evolution charted out by the design team.

The original designer of the former Assam tourism logo, Amulya Baruah, who did a much better job, stated: "It is a very crude representation of Assam. It is full of technical faults. Firstly, the rhino in the logo looks more like a cow or a buffalo. Then the rhino has been made less significant than the leaves. The typography is very weak and not legible instantly. The 'm' looks like 'n' and so it reads like 'Assan' and not 'Assam'."

According to reports, the reputed designer wasn’t even been consulted once before the task was assigned, why so?


The second question with regards to the logo is: Where are the people? Okay, perhaps you wanted to showcase the tea industry to attracts capitalists, but where are the tea labourers in the logo? Do they matter?

Additionally, in the floods last month, around 22 rhinos were washed away in top tourist spots, such as Manas, Kaziranga and Pobitora, not to mention the rise in poaching with the new BJP-led government. So, while we keep making caricatures of the rhino, and the new logo keeps distracting us, there is a real task at hand. The ecosystem that nourished the one-horned rhino is on its way to extinction, slowly but surely.

Should these matters not impact the tourism ministry? Instead, why do we have such a grand fund to make gross market artefacts of rhinos, tea leaves and the Brahmaputra?

The laziness, pomp and show displayed by the current government in designing the logo only proves how they are actually not interested in creating avenues for tourism, but they want to brand the state's "mainstream" markers, so it is readily available for consumption. This is a dangerous trend, it sets more cultural barriers than it camouflages to banish.

As the change.org petitions begin, I hope that we get a better logo. But more than that, let’s think of a new way to promote our tourism potential, which is not entirely guided by the rate at which we can sell our shrines, food, dress or the ethnic culture we are so proud of.

Last updated: September 11, 2016 | 14:09
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy