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Open Manifesto

Foreign interests.

A conversation between Simon Hong and K.F.

{5th of December 2008}


You’ve recently completed designing a brand identity for Abu Dhabi (as a consultant to M&C Saatchi, Sydney). Do you think cities or countries need a brand identity, or benefit from having one?


Yes and no. I believe there is already an intrinsic brand associated with countries, it exists before we are even born. I consider that brand is a crystallisation of attitudes and personality.


They may be misguided, prejudiced, less known or pigeonholed but it is the manifestation of our opinions and feelings that are associated to the name of countries or cities. It is undeniable that we are influenced by what we see and read in the media.


The challenge is to surface the sentiments of what we want to be and how we want to be seen by the rest of the world. It would be overly confident to think that a brand identity of a country can deliver this. But it may provide a point of reference for a continuing journey.


You’re background is South Korean, you are based in Sydney, Australia, and you found yourself designing a brand identity for a Middle Eastern super city. This reads like a definition for multiculturalism. Was this mix a hindrance or a help in completing the project?

It is bizarre, I know. How does that work?


All I can say is that design is what I do and sometimes I lose where I am or who I am. The best similarity I can give is an actor researching his character to be played in a movie. You view the world through the mindset of ‘what ifs’ and ‘how it could be’.


(The rest of this article is available, in print, in Open Manifesto #5)


Simon Hong is Creative Director of Daha Design. Born in Seoul in 1969, Simon moved to Sydney in 1983. After completing a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications with 1st Class Honours from the University of Technology, Sydney, Simon has gone onto become one of Australia’s most consistently awarded designers. For the past 17 years, Simon’s philosophy has been to foster creativity that sets new benchmarks.


After eight years as design director of Moon Design, Sydney, he set up his own visual consultancy firm, Daha Design. He is currently consulting to M&C Saatchi, Sydney on a number of major branding projects.


Some of his most recognisable work includes Sydney Symphony and Qantas Masterbranding.