The New Zealand Storyby Emma Parnell on 24/10/2012
They say you only really learn a language if you live and breathe it every day, immersing yourself in its specifics and navigating your way through its quirks. This will happen, not within the confines of a classroom, but through months if not years of living within a country or culture where the language is spoken regularly. Over time it will seep into your unconscious until one day you will be fluent.
When we talk of the language of a country we are usually referring to its vocabulary however cultures communicate in many ways. Its not just about what they say, its how they say it and present themselves to the world – more than simple words and phrases. In order to not only understand these extra layers but communicate them you must be fully immersed within the culture and understand it from the inside out.
When it comes to New Zealand its no longer enough to talk about the number 8 wire, do the Haka or real off a visual feast of indigenous carvings. New Zealanders are all too aware their country has a lot more to offer, these cultural attributes have become part of their psyche, they understand and embrace them on a daily basis but how do they tell the world?
That’s where designers come in. We are the ones that have the ability to tap into this knowledge, interpret it and express it in a meaningful way. We live the New Zealand story every day – beginning, middle and end. We know the beginning is no longer relevant so lets draw on the meaty middle to feed the end. We are constantly surrounded by evidence of the countries thriving creative, agricultural and culinary achievements, to name but a mere few. Innovation pours from every corner of this pint-sized country – this is our middle. It’s our job to interpret this, weave the individual stories together and resolve the ending – write our own future – because this is what the world really wants to hear about and will buy into.
I think, unless you have been living under a mossy stone for the last few weeks, you will have gleaned where I am leading with this. A few months ago the decision was made to select an agency to brand New Zealand to the world – create a visual toolkit that everyone can draw from when presenting their products/services to the world, essentially ensuring we are all speaking the same language. Now there is no point crying over spilt milk, the decision has been made, the storytellers have been selected. All we can do is wait with baited breath to see what picture they will paint. As designers we all know the worth of research however we also know there is no substitute for intuition. They might both speak the same language but can the Aussies ever really understand the language of New Zealand better than the kiwis themselves – only time will tell.