helston logos


All Together in the Great, Big Helston Design Competition!

So Helston is teetering on the brink of being 'branded'. For those not too sure about the use of this word in a context other than that of a cowherd stamping a hot iron onto a cow's rear end as a charred claim of ownership, it's a buzz word for a marketing an image that's immediately identifiable from the Beckhams to beans.

Helston is a Cornish market town with a population of around ten thousand and the gateway to the Lizard Peninsula. The town was granted a charter in 1201 by King John, who had a penchant for dishing out charters, as it was a stannary town that was given royal consent to weigh tin ingots and until the River Cober became silted up, was an inland port . The town's glory days were due to tin mining and the cattle market and its claim to fame is the annual Furry Dance. This has its traditions in Medieval paganism to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of summer with the Hal-an-Tow in which St. Michael and St. George slaughter the dragon and the devil. Victorian wealth and St. Michael's feast day commandeering the ancient rites are the foundation of the modern Flora dance, held throughout the day on 8th May. The highlight is the midday dance in which the town's 'worthies' spruce themselves up in top hats and tails and flouncy frocks, to follow the brass band booming out the repetitive refrain while the dancers hop, skip and twirl through the winding streets.

Why disturb the sleepy little town from its past by being 'branded'? Quite simply, if it doesn't respond with a nudge into the future, it will die, commercially and productively. During the past decade or so, the town has become a faded, shabby place and lost its individuality. Family owned shops have closed and been boarded up or replaced by ubiquitous charity outlets and branches of high street chain stores, while the cattle market ceased during the BSE crisis. However, the town has dusted itself down and shaken itself up as businesses have recognised the problems and formed the Helston Business Improvement Partnership (HBIP) and appointed a town centre manager; already, it's inspiring to see the shoots of regeneration. An ambitious step has been taken to give the town a recognisable identity - 'brand'- ahead of a planned marketing campaign and website.

logo1 logos 2 Being led into the circle

It was all looking good up to this point. My understanding is that designers have been hired to work with the Town Council and the HBIP to create a series of images for the town's logo. I know from experience how incredibly demanding it is for creative professionals to come up with an idea that is original and attractive, particularly when up against the opinions of committees and focus groups; inevitably, too many opinions are thrown in the mix from people who really don't know what they're talking about but feel obliged to comment and the objective becomes blurred and fuzzy. As a consequence, the six designs that have emerged are what my dear, departed father-in-law, called a 'dog's breakfast' - by trying to be clever, the results are naively obscure and abstract.

These designs, which were considered to be the best by HBIP, were revealed in the local press and then in a move to be egalitarian, the public have been asked to vote for their favourite in the Great, Big Helston Design Competition and the winning design will be the new 'brand' for the town. Talk about asking for trouble; whenever comments and opinions are invited, there's a compulsion to say something, anything, no matter how daft, just because you can. The poll in the local newspaper has revealed that 52% of those who bothered to vote don't want any of the six designs!

We've been proprietors in professional design partnership for a long time and have looked at the proposed ideas objectively. In my opinion, it doesn't matter how much some might try to move away from it, Helston's marque is Flora Day, a joyful, Cornish celebration of music , dance and flowers - not paving stones, flags, granite or architectural features on buildings as represented in the designs to promote the town- these are mundane and prosaic. Why attempt at dismiss the obvious when the iconography is unique! We've added our comment constructively with a suggested idea.

Helston Logo suggestion

I've attached John's idea of a logo for Helston, which sums up the town's image. If this design had a strap line, could be, ' Helston - All together!'..lyrics from the Flora Dance, the townsfolk working together and a reference to Cornwall's motto, 'One and All'. The 'H' shapes, recognise Cornwall and its traditions with the use of handlettered, calligraphic, Celtic letter form and the movement of the shapes represents the swirling colours of the midday dancers dresses, with contemporary delivery and approach of the design.

Design is subjective and one person's concept of art is what another would chuck in the re-cycling, but what is never wrong in this day and age of image and branding - is the cliche, ' you can't get a second chance to make a first impression'. Helston needs strong branding with character to represent a blend of the old and the new; contemporary, progressive and nice place to be, but without denying tradition and history and more than anything else, some sort of indication that it is in Cornwall!

The process towards choosing the final design to repesent the town occurred after a public voting process of shopkeepers asking customers which of the six designs they preferred. So enthusiastic was the population of ten thousand, that five hundred people registered their choice and the winner is the star made from flags!!!

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