While Milton Glaser’s I love New York logo created an enormous buzz in the 1970s graphic design, nowadays it became regular to meet more and more unique and bold visual identities among cities, towns, municipalities and regions. New or refreshed identities serve governments and other administrative organizations well. However, a very few attempt is made to refresh a country’s ‘logo’, the coat of arms, which is the symbol of the national identity.
My experiment for this was willfully timed for 20 August, Saint Stephen’s Day, when Hungarians celebrate the Foundation of the State. This way, it’s a present for Hungary from me.
Many variations of it appeared during the 1848-49 revolution, but it had only become the official symbol after the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867, called the ‘small coat of arms’. After many changes in the 20th century, the historical crowned symbol returned on 3 July 1990, as a decision of the parliament.
‘The coat of arms of Hungary is a vertically divided shield with a pointed base. The left field contains eight horizontal bars of red and silver. The right field has a red background and depicts a base of three green hills with a golden crown atop the higher central hill from which rises a silver patriarchal cross. The Holy Crown rests on top of the shield.’
(The Fundamental Law of Hungary, 25 April 2011)
I managed to simplify the symbol, leaving all the necessary heraldic elements at place to create a more contemporary, simple and straightforward use.
With the redesigned coat of arms i also managed to form a common visual language for the state administration and the national organizations. The examples seen here are a subjective selection, the identity can be used by many other ways too. This is only the first step in the process, hopefully even on an international level.
I also used the main principles of the project on another example, the coat of arms of the capital Budapest. Based on the same concept, I also created another symbol, the coat of arms of Budapest, which is the capital of Hungary.
"When Simon Anholt began promoting the idea of ‘nation branding’ in the 1990s, it took not so long for him to recognize that the concept if valid and effectual not only for tourists and foreign businessmen, but for every single citizen who meet with national symbols and visual identity daily. A main channel of this communication is the visual identity of the governmental bodies, even if this fact if usually disregarded. The good example of Germany, a strong and standardized branding of the German State Ministries, was followed by many European states from Spain to the Czech Republic. Miklós Kiss manages to customize this special formula of success for Hungary, by transforming the traditional coat of arms. The result is tempting: the imago of an effective, design conscious state. A first step, Miklós says. I’d like to see the next ones."
(Dániel Kovács art historian, journalist)
"as a community we could make two great mistakes: forcefully trying to “re-invent” ourselves with losing sense of common traditions, or not thinking about innovation at all. As Hungarians, most of the time we do what we are told, giving no chance for stylish renascence. After seeing great examples from New Zealand rugby or the Dutch royal dynasty, it's finally time to think about our own symbols with dynamism and humility at the same time. Miklós Kiss is surely the right man to start this conversation with."
(Gergely Böszörményi-Nagy, Design Terminal, Strategy Director)