New Zealand City Council defends $98K smiley face rebrand

A new smiley face logo for the rebranding of New Zealand’s Porirua City Council has reportedly cost taxpayers a whopping NZ$98,000 (CDN$83,643). The logo, which the Taxpayers’ Union described as a “limp and childlike smiley face”, was first unveiled back in April. Louis Houlbrooke, a representative of the union, further joked that when taxpayers “gaze long enough into the face, the council’s five-percent annual rate hikes gaze back.” 

The council finally came out to defend the smiley face saying the full rebrand, which began back in 2017, was to reflect with the city’s youthful population. They went on to say that due to how the rebranding was reported by local media outlets, residents have been misled to believe that the NZ$98,000 price tag was stuck on the design alone. In a press release, the council explains that the avatar was just NZ$875 of the total budget. Here’s a breakdown of the rebrand:

  • Strategy and brand development, and brand guidelines: NZ$30,000
  • Design of collateral, print and electronic templates, animation stationery, advertising, banners, certificates, rates latter and assessments: NZ$28,775
  • Brand architecture: NZ$8,850
  • Photo library based on the new brand “look and feel”: NZ$24,991
  • Update to brand guidelines: NZ$5,260

“We want to set the record straight and give some context as there’s been some misreporting.”

In fact, the smiley face isn’t even Porirua City’s official logo and is simply used as a mascot for its social media channels. The government emphasizes that its actual logomark is a sans-serif branding that reads “Porirua City” in lowercase, as shown below. 

New Zealand's Porirua City logo

Still, that’s a lot of money for a simple-looking smiley face logo that a child could’ve done in MS Paint. What are your thoughts on this logo rebrand? Is it worth the cost?