Boaters unimpressed by new C&RT logo - while Trust tries to pretend it isn't prematurely public

April 2018 - C&RT’s plans to re-brand itself on May 22 have suffered a setback with almost universal condemnation of it’s new logo. Whilst the Trust has consistently refused to publish details ahead of launch, The Floater has provided a link to the new logo which C&RT has registered as a trademark with the Intellectual Property Office. We asked readers to comment. Allan Richards takes a look at what you said ...

‘Going viral’ would be a overstatement but it has to be said that the new logo has caused much criticism by those that responded directly or indirectly to The Floaters request for comments. To take just one example, the Waterways World facebook page received an unprecedented 130 posts in nine hours.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of comments -

Diana Bleasdale - Rubbish rubbish rubbish. Does not make me think Canal & River Trust at all.

Paul Walsh - And yet another charity wasting honestly given donations on pointless meaningless crap. No wonder I never donate to these corrupt false charities.

William Brown - As far as I'm concerned it's pish, sorry but get a grip, the original one was more in keeping with canals, lots of cash spent in design of a totally meaningless bit of twaddle, it's costing thousands of pounds for this change.

Keith Hewlett - Poorest rebranding i’ve ever seen!

Laura Darling - It looks like a sun rise over the sea. Doesn’t represent the canals or rivers in anyway whatsoever. It’s very badly done from a logo designers point of view... I hope they didn’t spend much on it!

Simon King - Change for the sake of it. Waste of money which should be spent on the canals not corporate junk. A new logo will lead to resigning everything, new clothes for staff, new signs, new signs for vehicles, all costs money which should be spent on the upkeep of the system. There is nothing wrong with the old logo. Don't fix if it ain't bust.

Mike Downs - I put a post about the Logo change yesterday which seems to have been removed.

Joanne Davis - What a waste of money ... the Swan motif was perfect. Spend the money on dredging the canals.

Amy Dickerson - Makes me feel sick just looking at it. I suggest it is CRT’s sick joke to deflect all the criticism that they are incapable of maintaining a cruising network for boaters with all the long term stoppages so far this year. It also represents that the canals are empty of boats and water.

It would be good to provide some balance to these negative comments. However, it is difficult to find any posts that are positive. After much searching, one has been identified. John Evans posted ‘Great logo’ on Canal & River Trust Volunteers facebook page. Unfortunately, as with Mike Downs post, above, C&RT silently deleted it! They may have thought it was facetious being surrounded, as it was, by negative comments.

John was contacted. He said ‘Hi Allan I do like the logo I'm a keen supporter of CaRT’. A lone thumbs up for C&RT ...

Not content with criticism, some have turned to ridicule. C&RT’s new logo has sprung a couple of ears. A logo variously described as as the sun going down on C&RT, a sinking car tyre, a polo mint, a dunked biscuit or life ring has been rather cleverly altered to depict C&RT as a ‘mickey mouse’ charity.

It has also been pointed out that C&RT's new logo looks very familiar to an unregisted logo used by Narrowboats Ltd.

Due to the adverse criticism on C&RT’s new logo, The Floater has been working hard in trying to get the Trust to comment. Allan Richards contacted the Trust, pointing out that it was deleting posts on its on its volunteer facebook page and asking it to comment. C&RT’s response was to direct him to a hurriedly published news article 'Revitalising the Trust Brand'. A link can be found below.

However, it makes little mention of how the Trust has failed after just a few years to the extent that it needs rebranding and a new logo.

Peter Underwood contacted Jonathan Ludford (C&RT’s National Communications Manager) for comment -

Peter - Would you care to confirm the attached is C&RT's new logo? And can you tell me the schedule for its introduction?

Jon - Please see the link below for the latest on our brand launch: ​

Peter - Thanks Jon. But it doesn't answer my question, does it? How about a yes, no, or won't tell you?

Jon - We'll start to roll out the new brand at the end of May. I.e. I'll be able to tell you more then.

Peter - So, let me be absolutely clear. You will not confirm nor will you deny that the trademark I sent you is the new C&RT logo?

Jon - I’m saying that we’re launching the brand on 22nd May and will be sharing the logo with everyone then as part of that.

Perhaps with C&RT's reorganisation of senior managers, Mr Ludford has taken on a new role as 'national lack-of-communication manager'.

Here is what Tony Hales, (chair of the transition trustees and later C&RT chair) said back in 2011 about the then new 'swan and humped back bridge' logo introduced to replace the iconic BW 'bulrushes' logo: 'Our canals and rivers have been part of the fabric of the country’s landscape for 250 years and putting them in trust for the nation is the start of a new chapter in the renaissance of the waterways. People have told us that the waterways are important to them as a local haven, for themselves and for nature. Stepping onto a towpath is like entering a different world, where the stress of daily life can be escaped. The Canal & River Trust and our new symbol represent what our waterways mean to so many people.'

Marketing Director, Simon Salem added: 'It was the symbol that had an element of evolution – it retained the characteristic humpbacked bridge of the British Waterways version (remember your road signs) but gave us a new hero – the swan. This magnificent bird evokes serenity, grace, calm, protectiveness and much more in people's minds – the research was very positive.'

Why does it now need changing?

C&RT's problem is that it has failed to attract sufficient numbers of visitors to its waterways. It has also failed to attract sufficient charitable income. Changing a logo is not going to fix that.

Changing to a membership charity might …?

Photos: (1st) The logo C&RT has registered as a trademark, (2nd) British Waterways logo, (3rd) C&RT logo - years one to five, (4th) a Mickey Mouse satire, (5th) Narrowboats Ltd unregistered logo.

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