Designer Tony Ward rebrands with logo contest

BEIRUT: How should the brand of an internationally known Lebanese designer be represented? It took the emblems of more than 60 young graphic designers to get it right. Last April, after trying to develop a new brand logo with local ad agencies, fashion designer Tony Ward and his team came up with the idea of holding a design contest among university students as a way to engage local youths as well as inject new energy into a 20-year-old company.

In the end, the judges chose the geometrical minimalist design of 22-year-old ALBA (Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) advertising master’s student Noor Akar, a “T” atop a “W” in the same shape, both fitting into a circle. Until the contest, the logo for Tony Ward was simply his name written in all caps.

“It’s simple and timeless. It’s permanent and not trendy. You can live with it after 10 years. That’s why we were really serious about it,” a member of the jury said after the winner was announced Thursday night at a launch party in Ashrafieh. The event took place at the Tony Ward building, which already has the new and officially registered logo subtly inscribed on the walls.

The other entries were also honored, with each represented in an artful display mounted on the wall. Many had creative ways of blending the letters T and W using a variety of fonts, including calligraphy. One emblem had the two letters written using the silhouettes of women’s bodies. But it was Akar’s design that stood out for its sleekness, simplicity and timelessness.

“Tony Ward’s designs are timeless, so I designed a circle as a symbol of infinity,” Akar said after winning the contest.

“Everything here is very linear,” she said, sitting in one of the rooms of the fashion house where a Tony Ward runway show was playing on TV in the background. “When I watch Tony Ward fashion shows, what I like is that they’re extremely simple and classical.”

In addition to winning a cash prize, she will accompany Tony Ward and his team on fashion shows in Europe and have a “behind the scenes” experience.

For Akar, one of the real rewards of the competition was the seriousness of the entries and judging. She was impressed with the caliber of the other entries – a sign that she was among some serious contenders. Equally important was the caliber of the judges, who came from the top of their field. The jury included Ossama El-Kaoukji, managing director of Al-Jazera Consultants International and architect of the Tony Ward building Anna Bondavalli, and marketing director Youmna Assouad.

“This wasn’t just hype,” she said. “Most competitions these days are on Facebook and they’re done based on ‘likes.’ It was very refreshing to see an actual jury.”

Indeed, the jury members, led by Tony Ward himself, who founded his eponymous fashion house in 1993 and now has a presence in 42 countries, were determined to find a logo that would represent the business now and well into the future.

“It’s important for our image and for our communication as a business,” Ward said shortly after the announcement of the winner. “We wanted something that would look like us and call us and say: I’m yours.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 11, 2013, on page 2.




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