Canberra receives a rebrand

Published:  December 9, 2013

A newly rebranded Canberra is “ready to enter its second century with a sense of confidence”,  or so declares the city’s official branding website Brand Canberra. Hoping to present Australia’s capital as “confident, bold and ready”, Canberra’s new ‘CBR’ logo and website aim to attach a sense of modernity, possibility and desirability to the city. But, according to some, the campaign has fallen well short of the mark.

“My immediate reaction is that I don’t honestly believe it is going to meet the needs of Canberra into the future and it tells me very little about Canberra,” admits Melbourne-based designer Ken Cato, who further suggests that Canberra’s newly implemented ’CBR’ logo would be a more appropriate concept for a city already well-associated with its abbreviated name, like Los Angeles.

Featured on Brand Canberra’s website is a short video intended to ‘sell’ Canberra in motion. Copywriting specialist and panellist on ABC TV’s Gruen Transfer, Jane Caro pokes holes in the video’s approach and intended message. “I guess the take-out message, tragically, is to confer what people already think – that Canberra is anodyne, bland and that there’s nothing unexpected about it. It’s precisely what that video looks like. If you want to say to people ‘we’re not what you think we’re like, we’re not what you expected’, then do something unexpected.”

Brand Canberra explains, “Canberra is about connectedness and the exchange of ideas, with unique interaction between government, science, research, education and business. Because it’s Australia’s capital city, big things happen here. It’s a city for all Australians, because of the stories told in our great national institutions. Most of all, as we pass our 100th birthday, it’s a city that has come of age.”

Needing to express all this and more through the rebranding and new official logo design, seems to have proven, unsurprisingly, a difficult creative endeavour.

The full brand program will be unveiled in March. To read the details behind Canberra’s new branding, visit

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