A Brisbane intellectual property and trade mark lawyer has defended a controversial move to replace Australia’s global brand image of a kangaroo with a golden wattle.
Nicole Murdoch says while the move may be regarded as one of those head-shaking moments that makes you question why we allow business people to form focus groups, the controversial decision has some merit.
Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council recommended a rebrand of the current kangaroo logo, arguing the kangaroo was internationally recognised but did not represent Australia’s lesser-known assets such as technology and education.
The Morrison Government has signed off on the change which has provoked a strong reaction from media and social media commentators, but Brisbane trade mark and brand law expert Nicole Murdoch says people need to look beyond the imagery.
Nicole Murdoch, Principal with Brisbane boutique Intellectual Property and Trade Mark law firm Eaglegate Lawyers, which handles matters of Patent law, Copyright law, Trade Marks, Domain names and general Cyber law says the brains trust obviously felt they can’t use a kangaroo as there are too many forms of it in use now.
“They likely want a trade mark they can control and because the Kangaroo is so iconic they can’t stop others using it. So they have opted for one they can control. You have to appreciate the Government is not the owner of the kangaroo”.
Ms Murdoch says an issue with trade marks that have become too generic is “you can’t shut the gate once the horse has bolted”.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who signed off on the brand change, reportedly says the Morrison Government remains “100 per cent committed to the Australian Made Kangaroo”, but the new logo would “bring some consistency” for Australian businesses presenting themselves on the international stage.
The new logo will be used by business, industry and government agencies, replacing the current one depicting two orange boomerangs that form an outline of Australia.
However, it’s understood a new redesigned kangaroo logo will still be used for Australian-made products.
The Brand Advisory Council, featuring an assortment of industry heavyweights, was set up two years ago by the then-Turnbull Government to help develop “a stronger nation brand to better position Australia and enhance our global competitiveness comprises some of Australia’s most successful business brains.
The group is chaired by mining magnate Twiggy Forrest and includes Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and Coopers Brewery chairman Glenn Cooper among others and is supported by an expert working group of marketing professionals.
Ms Murdoch concedes Australians would be puzzled as to why the wattle should replace the kangaroo brand, but the plan to build the nation’s global brand around a plant is not automatically as crackpot as it sounds.
“New Zealand has the fern as their brand and Canada has their maple leaf. But does our wattle stack up with them?”
Ms Murdoch expects opposition from the general public to the re-branding but urges people to appreciate we have no monopoly over the shape of a kangaroo, so they’ve created a brand they can control.
Ms Murdoch says the wattle is better as it is a skilful allusion to Australia without being so iconic that it can’t be controlled.