Update: 24 November 2009
Since publishing this post I have corrected the monetary value in the headline. It initially read £40,000 (as published by the Herald Express). The designer responsible for the logo has kindly commented correcting the amount. Thank you, Tessa.

According to the English coastal town blog What if Ilfracombe, the town recently spent £40,000 on an image revamp and new brand identity.

Ilfracombe map
Ilfracombe—the small coastal town in Devon, England

Ilfracombe photo
Ilfracombe photo from me’nthedogs on Flickr

Ilfracombe logo design
Ilfracombe’s new logo, reported to have cost £40,000 with a guidelines document

Tessa Martin of consultancy Fresh Bread Marketing said:

“Ilfracombe is a fresh, intriguing place to visit with an impressive landscape. It is steeped in and continues to offer a maritime experience and has a strong cultural theme with a fascinating Victorian heritage.

“The new Ilfracombe logo, with its idiosyncratic ‘swirl’ above the ‘i’ indicates intrigue, mystery and drama expressed with a spot of humour and fun too. It also reflects the twists and turns of the landscape and can conjure up thoughts of the seaside, sea, an ice-cream, the harbour and fish.”

Designers need to be good salespeople. No doubt. But as with all things in life, some of us are better than others.

Via Lee Newham.


November 22, 2009


I agree David. “idiosyncratic swirl”?

To avoid the usual “it cost how much?” bandwagon on branding projects, designers should learn to be more transparent in explaining what the client got for the price. That way, all this bad publicity (for the designer and for design in general) could be avoided.

This seems to be a classic example of a logo design firming using sales talk to sell a brand that can easily be seen to represent something else. The brief from the design firm I’m afraid really isn’t convincing.

Looking at the design the ‘I’ dot design certainly seems to represent fertility in some sense, not “intrigue, mystery and drama”. The choice of font is also quite playful, which only adds to this notion.

The design is going to get some backlash so I wonder if the town will continue to use it. It would be interesting to see the other designs the graphic design firm came up with!

I had such a good time looking at Fresh Bread website and the portfolio it’s absolutely amazing. It surely recommends that someone should pay even more for one of their logos =)) The strategy it’s absolutely beyond our understanding, trying to reach a certain target, the unfertile couples that really want to have babies. Ilfracombe will also advertise soon sexual tourism, if the “intrigue, mystery and drama” won’t work on the little guys and swinging for results will be the next best thing.

I have to admit these comments made me laugh.

This is a classic case of marketing wa*k (pun intended). What they needed was proper design thinking.

Marketing: Making common sense complicated.

As you can tell I’m not a fan of marketing!

I tried to talk to the council in Ilfracombe a few times about design and ‘marketing’ over the years but was brushed aside. Obviously the council know best.

This is terrible, not only the symbol but the typeface and colours scream fertility clinic. It’s beyond me how the people on the board choosing the logo didn’t; a) notice this b) question it, as they are paying 40k on the thing. The recession clearly didn’t hit Ilfracum, wait Ilfracombe hard enough.

The curve on the sperm could be a bit more graceful, but overall I don’t have a problem with it. It’s a logo for a small seaside town, it is what it is.

I think it is the cost more than the sperm that is generating the publicity for this logo, but according to a person involved with the process, it only cost 5,000, not 40,000.

Thanks for the comments, folks. They brought a smile to my face.

Simon, Lee, I’ve added an update to the foot of the post following your additions. Very much appreciated. I’m as bad as the press, eh?


5,000, not 40,000… 5,000 it’s still a lot for that, you can buy some similar stuff from our beloved stocks for less than 100. In a couple of days, so they don’t look stupid, they’ll say that the logo was for free and pretty soon we will find out that Fresh Bread Marketing paid some money to the Council to let them make the logo. News are still to come, amazing ones. Vive la reproduction!

Thanks for all your comments
logo designs are always contentious and subjective – everyone’s an expert :-)
hmm a sperm, well people see things differently. I am not going to argue it isn’t if you have decided that is what you see, but i would say lots of other people have seen different things, as i said, the harbour, it’s fish, the dolphins that swim around the coast of llfracombe, i could go on.

The logo has design integrity and for £5000 includes a catalogue of over 40 images and an illustration of the harbour. Who mentioned £40k – please correct this!!!

The branding was a lengthy process, which involved lots of people from the public sector and commercial business – a real collaborative process with a successful outcome. I am very proud of it and pleased to have been involved with such a wonderful place.

You should take a visit if you haven’t before or take another look if you remember it of old – it really is a quirky harbour town

Thanks again for your comments, bye for now :-)

Hello Tessa, thanks for stopping by to comment and clarify details. Everyone is an expert. How very true.

I have updated the post headline with the correct value and included a small update note at the beginning of the text.

Please feel free to stop by my portfolio and tear into some of my work.

Considering most people have completely torn this apart, I thought it would be nice to show some support, after all I think the branding is quirky and fun and reminds me of everything Tessa has mentioned above. You can’t please them all Tess. :-)

I start having a problem with this… It’s true, the comments weren’t all nice, not even close to nice and I understand David’s reply to Tessa Martin’s post (the 40k mistake was made), but in the end, let’s be honest, the logo it’s not what we would call a good one. Why do we have to feel sorry and to apologies for our believes. I just don’t get it. We all get our kicks in the back at some point for a design we make. I don’t see any fish and any harbor. I see just an ugly logo and I’m sorry that maybe, with this I offend Tessa Martin, but you don’t stand up unless you have something to say and if that something isn’t good enough, that’s it, we’re not perfect all the time. All this drama it’s disappointing. Reading LogoDesignLove it’s always rewarding and commenting to posts it used to be fun and creative, even if a little dirty. It’s the first time that something like this happens. Now everybody is pissed and silent. What I hate the most, it’s Tessa Martin passive-aggressiveness that just killed something nice.

Monica – Now you’re just being plain weird. In your World Tessa is to blame for everything heh? She did a logo you didn’t like, She commented on a blog post in a way you didn’t like… ooh she must be pure evil. Whatever.

Of course – you’re the one who gets to speak for everyone – eh? “Now everybody is pissed and silent”. Gimme a break – no ones stopping you or anyone else from writing a comment. It might just be that maybe people have moved on realising that the original sensationalist headline doesn’t really hold water. Who knows… I can only speak for me.

You’re right, Pete. The headline was over the top. I’m still experimenting with finding balance between piquing interest and being too literal, and I can say with certainty that copywriting is not my forté.

I see a tadpole, half a candle flame, a reversed-out nose and, yes a sperm. I have to be told to see fish, landscape, the harbour and ice cream and even them I’m: ‘I guess it could be…’ However it in no way makes me intrigued enough to want to visit Ilfracombe, but then again I’ve been there and it was dreadful. I’d maybe go back for £5,000, but more likely would hold out for £40,000.

Lol …. hmmm.

Not keen on it …aside from the obvious issues of sexual connotations, I feel the graphic would benefit from a bit more swirl to it, a bit more flow. It seems a bit stiff to me (ha ha! that was an accident I swear)

If there was just a tad more swirl to it, without making it look too much like an icecream, it would probably not be being criticised right now.

“At the risk of this not being posted: ‘ilfracum’?” – Ha ha! Classic Martin!

I just think it’s a shame that the council didn’t give the remit to design a logo to Ilfracombe Arts College and give the future population of ilfracombe a chance to be proud of themselves.
I’m sure they would have come up with a fantastic proposal for less money keeping most people quiet.

“The branding was a lengthy process, which involved lots of people from the public sector and commercial business”

…and that’s why the logo isn’t good. You’ve got a really obvious case of groupthink – nobody in all those committees has had the balls to stand up and go “But it looks like a sperm!”

I also agree with S Watson – giving the brief to the local design college would have been good for everyone, cost less, and generated some excellent PR. Which is not what this logo’s done for you.

OOh! Wait. I think I can see a glint of sunlight bouncing off the stippled surface of the gently lapping sea!
Er, nope. Its awful. (almost as abrasive as the 2012 logo!?)
Please take it back to the drawing board!

– Seriously though, if you’ve ever worked for local authorities you will know how many cooks it takes to really spoil an ice cream. And this, I suspect is one of those jobs. “Can you just put this bit with that bit and make it look a bit more like this one too?”
And no matter how you may struggle to convince them…

Other negative comments: Letterspacing! Weight of strapline. Are there any other colour variations or is it just mono?

Good luck winning over any tourism with this, Ilfracombe!

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