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Our neigbours’ recent discussions around the Ukraine Brand Contest raised an issue, which is quite important for any country. How justified and effective is it to use national symbols in logos and corporate identities? This issue is particularly critical for companies focusing on the domestic market.

The problem is that the set of well recognizable national symbols is quite limited, but the number of companies who would like to use it in their corporate identity is enormous. Besides, if such obvious symbols as the matryoshka doll or the balalaika are quite adequate for a foreigner, for Russians they would appear somewhat kitschy and not always appropriate.

Those are the issues I had to resolve while designing the logo for a Belorussian webhosting company. Bel.by was established as the national hosting provider supported by the government with a focus on national internet projects.

In this situation the use of national Belorussian motifs was justified. However, it was important for such a major innovative company to avoid the feel of ancient times in traditional images and to provide them with a new look.

Belarus flag

The basis of the Belorussian national colours is the ornament woven on a towel by Matryona Markevich in the village of Kostelische in 1917.

In my childhood, which happened during the last years of the USSR, Belorussia seemed to me the most joyful of all the republics in the Soviet Union. All because of its symbols: the flags of other republics contained uniform stripes of different colours with the red background. Latvia and Estonia allowed a degree of freedom, and their lines were wiggly, but it was unrealistic to remember the flags’ identity.

Only the Belorussian flag was easily recognized because of its peculiar pattern along the flagpole. From all other faceless flags this one stood out, and one could feel history behind it. It is not by accident that Belarus (former Belorussia) was the only former USSR republic that returned to its original “Soviet” flag.

Now I had to take a fresh look at this ornament. One of the ways to do it is to look closer to see the details. Wow, it really reminded me of a set of pixels! A towel is therefore transformed into a geometric figure I could really play with.
For example, I could pull it on a globe thus giving a hint at the company’s “global” plans.

Yin-yang. The Belorussian style.

Yin-yang. The Belorussian style.

The logo is now ready. It holds on to its national roots without unnecessary vulgarism. The logo goes very well with the Sensation font. I only had to adjust the font a little bit with a “file” cutting the height of the upper elements of the letters b and l to reduce the “fence” effect. The dot in the company name became red, of course, resembling the “pixel” of the ornament.