Malaysian tourism logo sparks social media furore

Visit Malaysia 2020 and cartoon graphics of animals wearing sunglasses

A new logo for the Malaysian tourism ministry has come under fire from designers online thanks to what many have cited as an amateurish look. The Visit Malaysia 2020 logo design (above) was created in-house by a member of the Malaysian tourism ministry for free.

Tailored towards attracting the attention of 36 million potential tourists, the logo mixes landmarks such as the Petronas Towers with comical graphics of native wildlife wearing sunglasses. These elements are incorporated into the Visit Malaysia 2020 name, along with the campaign's slogan: "Travel. Enjoy. Respect."

Following its launch at the Asean Tourism Forum 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the logo has been criticised by designers on social media platforms, with many demanding that it is changed.

We did not pay a single cent

Nazri Aziz

Common complaints have taken issue with how old the design looks, the disjointed composition, and the basic animal graphics. We are yet to see a single part of the composition that people approve of.

Despite the widespread derision the logo has attracted, Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz does not intend to replace it. "I have no intention of changing. We are not going back. It was meant for foreign tourist and not locals. When I launched it in Chiang Mai they liked and praised it," he told The Malaysian Insight.

"We did not pay a single cent. The one who designed it is our own staff. I trust my staff that has more than 30 years in tourism in this matter."

The designer's previous work appears to include similar elements

The designer's previous work appears to include similar elements

One of the designers involved with the new logo, Rosli Hassan, has defended the branding by saying that he was just doing his job based on the idea that was agreed upon with the ministry.

Hassan's previous work includes the logo for Malaysia's Tourism and Culture Ministry, which appears to use a similar palm tree graphic that has been flipped and had the colour of the trunk changed. Following the backlash, Hassan says he has considered taking out a lawsuit against those who have tarnished his reputation.

Logos are a contentious topic with designers, even when a huge budget is involved. So is this design, built with zero budget, really deserving of so much hatred? Or is it just an easy target for designers who need to relax?

Visit Malaysia 2020 might not be a groundbreaking design, but it's funny, it's drawn people's attention in a similar way to the recent LA designer advert, and what's wrong with a retro design – even if the '90s look was possibly not deliberate...

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.