Visit Malaysia 2020 logo: Branding experts share their views on the new look

A logo is most often one of the defining aspects of the brand and when done right, can create top of mind awareness among consumers. While design can be subjective, technical factors such as simplicity, relevance, memorability, uniqueness and versatility are always important when designing a logo.

The new Visit Malaysia 2020 logo caused a stir online when it was recently unveiled. Some reacted positively while others commented that the logo was not memorable. There were also allegations about the logo being plagiarised, which were quickly shut down. A+M speaks to industry professionals about the technical aspects of the new logo and what their take on it was.

Tania Tai, managing director, DIA Brands Consultants Malaysia

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Design is both an art as well as a science. Going beyond the aesthetics of the logo, there are certain rules of engagement for an effective logo design. The best way to create a lasting image in the minds of people is to design a brand mark that is simple, original and memorable.

While the design intent of the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo started off right, with its rich symbolism in a batik-inspired form, it was the final finessing that didn’t do justice to the concept.

Firstly, messaging and grammar could be compromised when “Truly Asia” was prioritised and inserted between “Visit” and “Malaysia”. Secondly, originality may be put at risk when a more literal graphic approach was used to depict the hornbill or hibiscus “as is”.

With the wealth of inspiration at our fingertips today, designers and brand owners will be even more empowered to push the boundaries of imagination to create more meaningful yet creative expressions.

Simon Bell, managing director, Southeast Asia, FITCH

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The new Visit Malaysia 2020 (VMY2020) logo is busy. From a pure identity point-of-view, too busy. An identity at its best visually or verbally communicates a message and indicates experience. A strong graphic system will assist in telling relevant messages, supported by online and offline channels. Apologies for the 101 branding or marketing.

The important piece to remember is Tourism Malaysia has set itself the task of increasing tourists numbers and receipts. However, numerous other locations are also vying for this market, so competition will be intense.

This identity will be the face of VMY2020 marketing efforts. In my opinion, the message about the experience is not clear and it misses any relevant point. When I consider it against other tourism brands in the region created to attract tourism, it feels like it misses what Malaysia has to truly offer. And anyone who has been there knows it has much to offer.

The supporting marketing will have to work super hard to support this identity.

Marcus Osborne, CEO, Fusionbrand

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The fundamental issue I have with the logo is that many of the target markets will just see a colourful bird and probably think it’s a parrot. The other elements, the flower, the flag colours won’t be identified. In addition, English speaking markets will see poor English.

The font type and size are weak. The colour styling is acceptable with the tone (gradient) but could be more striking. Overall the logo is too busy so it’s hard to focus.

The point of the logo is to help potential visitors identify and start thinking about the destination. For that you need to understand the environment in which it will be seen, and by whom.

Can you see this logo having an impact on a banner ad or on native ads? Is it necessary to see this at the end of a video? Will it make a difference? Also important are the changes in the way consumers consume information. Today, does the logo have any impact on the destination decision making process? Personally, I don’t think so.

Dominic Mason, managing director, Southeast Asia, Sedgwick Richardson

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Malaysia deserves better. Since the first Visit Malaysia logo in 1990, destination branding for countries and cities has evolved to include dynamic brand identity systems that signal diverse experiences. Tourism Malaysia’s 2020 logo is a collage of elements that lacks a big idea. The symptoms are easy to spot.

The tenuous post-rationalisation of desired symbolism will be lost on foreign audiences.

The abundance of nature comes through, but it’s wishful thinking on the part of Tourism Malaysia for “the celebration of cultural diversity”, “the unique flavours of Malaysian cuisine”, “the year-round sunshine” to be inferred from this brightly coloured bird logo.

Then there’s the English-gone-wrong tagline – “Visit Truly Asia Malaysia”. Asia is truly more than a bird park. What went wrong? Running a public competition for this particular logo and using an in-house design team for the previous version is not best practice destination branding.

Whatever costs Tourism Malaysia feels have been saved in taking this approach have since multiplied in terms of negative publicity. Finally, Tourism Malaysia has missed a trick in implementation. With a little more creativity and far greater impact, the hornbill’s beak could adorn an aircraft’s entire nose rather than be a virtually indistinguishable badge under the cockpit.

Alex Boulware, creative director, Jones Knowles Ritchie

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The new branding for Tourism Malaysia is an example of the pitfalls of crowdsourced design: a lack of craft and quality standards, but more importantly, the lack of an essential element of the design process which is dialogue. In developing and selecting a new identity, agencies and designers play a key part in helping clients gain the clarity to select the design which best answers the brief, but also asserts a distinctive expression of the brand.

This new branding suffers from a lack of distinction. On the surface, the new mark is colorful, friendly and ticks boxes of local iconography with layers of symbolism, however it lacks depth and more importantly character.

The mark itself comes across as safe and generic, not really giving a sense of place or feeling of what one should expect of a truly Malaysian experience.

In terms of execution – the typography suffers from legibility issues and isn’t integrated with the graphic, which feels like stock imagery. While the new mark is slightly simpler and more credible than the mark released earlier, it feels as shallow and unremarkable, to be quickly forgotten until it is refreshed again for 2021.

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