GOOD DESIGN AND NATIONAL BRANDING

Have you all seen the GORGEOUS new passports that Norway is issuing? Just look at this beauty:

VERY classic “Scandi-Design” elements of bright saturated primary colors and beautiful clean type and line-work. Just gorgeous! One of those documents that you’re MORE than happy to have in your bag and proud to show off in the air terminal as your traveling.

Not only are these beauties aesthetically pleasing, they’re ingeniously designed with security in mind! Take a look at the inside page:

(Page under normal light conditions, a beautiful, graphically designed image of the Norwegian landscape)

(Page under UV security light.  The design now features the Norwegian night sky with the northern lights design acting as a security feature to prove the documents authenticity and authority)


This beautiful document was designed and submitted into a national competition. How awesome is that? A government asking its own citizenry to take part in its national branding! What an amazing civic service to great way to get your citizenry on-board with national identity.

I wish this took place in the US. I feel like there is always this air of “tradition” and “stalwartness” that squashes any talk of doing something like this. As if old, musty and outdating designs for currency (Norway redesigned that too) and government documents would somehow break the ‘Merican spirit if they were updated and cleaned up (LORD knows those damn forms could use a clean up).

Perhaps it’s the older, “boomer” population that is still clinging to these out-dated ideas. I just wish we could have something like a national branding competition. There are MANY countries that set up contests like Norway did. Plus, every now and again, it’s good to air out our national documents for security purposes, why not outsource that VERY expensive design work to the nation and see what comes in?

Today my very favorite online magazine, Slate, featured a design project by Swiss-based American designer Travis Purrington. The project was inspired by the Norwegian currency redesign and took our stuffy old American banknotes and gave them a GORGEOUS freshening up, just look at them:


Wow! Not only are they beautiful, clean and highlight American environmental achievements and accomplishments, but they have security on mind as well! The tinwork would be distinctive as well as contain security measures already built into our currency today (security strips, etc).

I love the idea of being involved in our own national branding. I also love the idea of a 20 or so year update that we can count on to help keep our minds focused on recent accomplishments. I think Americans have this idea that tradition trumps innovation and the things we see everyday reinforce that. Simple design updates can be a cost effective and efficient way of keeping security up-to-date as well as keeping our national identity fresh and current.