UK Presidency of Europe

The difficulty of symbolising Europe, and perhaps the reason why the azure flag with its circle of 12 stars is often returned to, is that summing up the 27 states that make up the EU is a formidable task. Each member state takes it in turn to sit as President, and the Presidency rotates every six months.

As we struggled with possible typographic solutions (and realised that all variations of EU|UK weren't very attractive) we looked for other, more metaphorical devices. Eventually we wondered if a flock of swans could act as a symbol, especially when we discovered that they take it in turns to head the formation so that no one bird becomes too exhausted.

Our clients at the Design Council and Foreign Office liked the idea, and we set about preparing the usual logos and applications. But then we discovered that there were particular requirements of the scheme - it seemed that the ‘merchandise' from each summit is prized by diplomats so there was a subtle competition between member states to provide the best branded umbrellas, ties, cuff-links, bags and watches.

The kinetic nature of the design, with 12 swans flying in 12 different wing arrangements, lent itself well to applications where the animated birds could be used.

Above is an animated post-it pad, designed specifically to amuse during long and tedious meetings, and below the main mark reversed out of blue.

Below are various flights of birds that we animated – these were used as ‘stings’ during events and presentations to brand the events.