Review: Egypt’s New Tourism Logo

Beautiful white sand beaches, crystal blue water, mountain views and intense sunsets – Would you associate these alluring descriptions with the deserts of North Africa? Well, surprise, and welcome to the ‘other Egypt.’

New travel identity reveals destination’s hidden beauty

In an effort to expand its tourism business beyond the pyramids and ancient ruins, Egypt has introduced a new identity for its travel marketing. The new logo hints at another side of Egypt including its little known beach culture. Yes, Egypt has beautiful white sand beaches. Not on the Mediterranean as you might expect, but along the shores of the Red Sea, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba. The brilliant blue waters of Egypt’s east coast are a far cry from the muddy Nile River, and seeing the moon rise over the mountains of Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea from Nuweiba is one experience I will never forget.

Now, has this little geography lesson changed your opinion of Egypt’s new logo? How many of you were thinking that the color blue just doesn’t make sense for this arid country? Or were you questioning why they didn’t use any reference to mummies, a pharaoh, the sphinx, or the pyramids? A pyramid is such a great shape to own – and what other country could better capitalize on that than Egypt?

This new identity is not about the core experience we associate with Eqypt; they already own that market share. It’s about getting people to come back to Eqypt, to do something else there, or to divide a two-week vacation between touring cultural sites and relaxing on the beach. It’s about attracting people who are more interested in warm, sunny weather and beautiful beaches than history. Egypt as a beach destination? Depending on where you live in the world, it could be a viable alternative to the Caribbean, and this identity is designed to make you think twice about it.

Let’s see if the logo’s structure measures up

The shape of the word mark is not necessarily the strongest, but overall it has a nice form unusually balanced by so many descenders. It could be bettered rendered though, as some of the letters are a bit sloppy and too ragged. Case in point is the descender on the ‘y’ as it separates the stroke unnecessarily. The logo is not as choppy when it’s reduced, but is problematic at larger sizes. The ‘e’ could be a bit larger and wider to help balance the powerful ‘t’ which demands a lot of attention as it doubles for the ankh symbol.

Some of the people I queried felt that the ‘e’ looked too much like a ‘c’ and were concerned we would read ‘cgypt’. I would argue that not to be the case, as our brains will find a way to make sense out of this word. Studies have shown people can read and understand a paragraph of text without vowels because our brain is wired to create and anticipate the meaning. And let’s not forget that the logo will rarely ever stand alone out of the context of a brand message. For all those naysayers, look at the Lord & Taylor logo and tell me if you can actually read the letterforms clearly and whether or not it matters for recognizing this logo.

An unexpected use of color

I love the blue. It’s gutsy. It’s everything we wouldn’t expect. It beckons the question ‘why blue?’ which is exactly what you want people to find out. I’m not fond of the drippy texture inside the strokes -also too sloppy. As is the case of the shape, the color is more fluid when the mark is reduced. There has to be a better balance between the energy rendered from the immediacy of the brush stroke and a determined mark no matter what the size of the image.

A word about the logo’s content and style

It’s a wordmark or logotype, so we have to talk about its style. The hand done, non-computer generated font is a refreshing change. It hints at hieroglyphics and arabic script in a modern context while simultaneously hinting at the age of the culture without resorting to cliche typefaces like Papyrus or Trajan.

The tag line, ‘where it all begins’ has a nice double entendre message, but it looks terrible. The font style renders the letterforms too wide, so even though they are a light weight they feel clunky and childish. The paint splatter above the ‘i’ isn’t helping either. There is a fine line between playful sophistication and looking silly and trite. I believe the tag is set in Skia. Even if they kept the font, set it smaller and kerned out the letter spacing, it would have more cachet. The tag line design needs a quiet elegance for these words to resonate.

Logo as part of a bigger travel and tourism campaign

The logo was designed by JWT in Cairo. The ad campaign tries too hard to make Egypt everything-to-all-people and has a glitzy Vegas-like style. However, the TV spot is done fairly well and delivers the message of a core experience that few destinations can compete with. I can't say that the new logo delivers on just how stunning the 'other Eqypt' is, but at least it gets us thinking there might be more to this destination than our narrow view.

On the logometer of one to ten, I give Egypt’s new identity a 5. What do you think?