A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

8
The Logo, the Venue and the Argot

The Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth is a symbol well known throughout the world. The Commonwealth logo, by contrast, is one of the most obscure. Unlike the five rings of the Olympic Games which people instantly recognise, those who are shown the Commonwealth logo invariably fail to identify it.

The symbol first appeared in 1973, on the initiative of the first Secretary-General, Arnold Smith, who was soon sending his friends ties sporting the motif. He recorded in his memoirs that soon after his election he had lunch with several Heads of Government when Milton Obote of Uganda suggested that in due course the Secretariat would need a flag and a symbol. ‘When you do, don’t ask heads of government to approve a design. We have enough to divide us… . Decide what you can do for yourself, and do it.’ 1 Once the Secretariat’s information service got underway in the early 1970s, Smith consulted Derek Ingram, founder of Gemini News, the only news agency that concentrates on the Commonwealth and which made a speciality of clear graphic design. 2 A member of the agency, Cliff Hopkinson, produced a design consisting of a stylised globe encircled by a capital ‘C’, formed of hatched lines radiating from the globe. This appeared modestly on the Secretary-General’s fourth report, more prominently on the 1973 edition of the booklet The Commonwealth Today, and on a blue flag which adorned the Secretary-General’s car for the Ottawa Chogm. The Canadian government also incorporated it in the Chogm decor and thereafter it has adorned Secretariat letterheads and publications.

In recent years, the straight ‘hog’s back’ hatchings, forming the capital ‘C’, have often been rendered in ‘tapered spear’ form. This has a more eye-catching effect when rendered in colour (normally gold on blue); in black and white it ‘thickens’ the hatchings to become much

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