Nov 052010

This week Old Susannah looks at the important work of Aberdeen City, Shire and ASCEF.  But first she would like to note the international recognition given to the Shetland Islands as a world-class destination.

The Shetlands won a spot on the world’s top ten places according to The Lonely Planet guide.  I don’t see it myself – aside from unique landscapes, diverse wildlife, archaeology, northern lights and an ancient heritage, there’s not much to these isles – not even a shopping mall.  Think how much better it could be there if they’d only build a concrete public square and a few hundred holiday homes.  Perhaps a delegation from ASCEF could help.  And here’s what ASCEF has done for us lately:

Regional Identity

Before ASCEF came along, no one in the world knew where Aberdeen or indeed the North East of Scotland was.  There was no Regional Identity (except for a Scottish history stretching to prehistory, discoveries and inventions known the world over, and both architecture and wild landscape immortalised by artists and writers).  Well, we have a Regional Identity now.  This identity apparently means that finally businesses in the area can compete in the world.  You can almost feel the motivation.  I can hear you asking now, what good is a Regional Identity without a logo, strapline and philosophy?  Quite.

Aberdeen City and Shire – The logo

For reasons of copyright (and aesthetics), I am not reproducing the beautiful logo here – but I do encourage you to seek it out on the Aberdeen City Council website.  Words cannot do it justice, but I shall do my best.  First there is the shape – it echoes the Grampian coastline (if the coastline were a boomerang).  Then there is groundbreaking lettering rendered in a bold, confident yet plain font which announces:  “ABERDEEN CITY AND SHIRE” in full capital letters to emphasise how important we are.  You can almost sense the improving economic investment into the area this lettering alone will bring.

These words make you instantly feel optimistic, and ready to face life head on

There are squiggly lines – sorry waves which not only let people know we are on a coastline ( Did you know that?)  but also demonstrate how connected we are (of course anyone with an artistic streak will immediately get it).

There didn’t seem to be any graphic reference to the beautiful sewerage plant on said coastline, which was no doubt an artistic decision reached after weeks of deliberation.  There is a cityscape just like ‘Sex in the City’ had.

There is also reference to trees in this masterpiece, but no doubt they can be airbrushed out once we’ve got rid of Union Terrace Gardens.   The blue and green colour scheme apparently reflects our natural environment (maybe they ran out of grey paint?).  Strangely neither the Council nor ASCEF seem to respond to my freedom of information requests with any regularity, but if any of you would like to ask how much of our money went into the logo, strategy, strapline and the Identity Team, please let me know what you can find out.  But  wait – it gets better…

Natural Pioneers

No, our governors and business leaders are not ‘Natural Pioneers’ because they are determined to tame any remaining wilderness . This pioneering spirit is the state of mind we are all in according to those who designed our new identity.  Old Susannah admits to being a bit confused by the literature describing this value because it explains that our culture and history show we naturally have a can do attitude .

This seems a wee bit at odds with their previous claim  that we were unknown to the outside world. I am not sure which is true, but I will look through the ‘toolkit’ which the ‘Regional Identity Team’ has created to see if I can get to the bottom of it.  Should any reader be able to explain this to me, please get in touch.

A Brighter Outlook

A Brighter Outlook is what we have in Aberdeen, as the ‘strapline’ tells us.  These words make you instantly feel optimistic, and ready to face life head on.  The outside world will of course totally believe things are great here because of the strapline and the logo.  A few squiggles, a cityscape, and the immortal words ‘A Brighter Outlook’ will have investors queuing up to get their money placed here.  We will have more Donald Trumps. Thank you ASCEF, and thank you Regional Identity Team.

I suggest you write to your elected representative to express how happy you are that a team has been established and money spent to put Aberdeen’s future in this wonderful light.  Or take direct action and contact the  Regional Identity Team directly at St Nicholas House.  Let’s ensure they keep up the good work and that they won’t suffer in the budget cuts.  Best we get rid of the income that charities used to rely on from the Golden Square parking area than we cut a cent from our Regional Identity team (I wonder how many people it took to do all of this fantastic work?).

Only one thing is missing:  we need a photo of a person who embodies all of the things our City and Shire stand for.  Please send your nominations.

Next week:  Budget special:   creative accounting, ringfencing, consultation updates