Taiwan becomes ‘the heart of Asia’

Taiwan: The Heart of Asia

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has launched a new logo and slogan. “Taiwan – The Heart of Asia” replaces the grammatically incorrect “Taiwan, Touch Your Heart” which had been in use for ten years.

Focus Taiwan reports the logo was designed with the assistance of London design firm Winkreative. It  packs in a bunch of symbols of Taiwan — Taipei 101 features prominently while the building at the top might be the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall although it could also be a generic representation of Taiwan’s temples. There are also fireworks, lanterns, a teapot, a bird, flower blossoms, a butterfly, two people eating and an aboriginal motif. The only obvious thing that is perhaps missing is an image of Taiwan’s mountains.

One good thing about the slogan “Taiwan — The Heart of Asia” is that it places Taiwan at the centre. While the actual geographical centre of Asia is near Urumqi in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), Taiwan does occupy a special position in Asia that connects it to other Asian countries and the Pacific Ocean. I detailed this in an earlier blog post, Perspectives of Taiwan.

The slogan invites comparison with the slogans of some other Asian countries which are actively promoting international tourism. Other countries are using slogans such as “Amazing Thailand”, “Malaysia Truly Asia”, “Wonderful Indonesia”, “Incredible India” and “Korea, Be Inspired”. There is an obvious preference for the emphatic here. Whether Taiwan’s “heart” can compete with these is the real question.

36 thoughts on “Taiwan becomes ‘the heart of Asia’

  1. The heart shape and the aboriginal design evoke for me the sorts of shops that sell gingham teddy bears and teal furniture. (Shudder!) But that’s probably just me. At any rate this is better than the sort of thing the tourism bureau has produced in recent years.

  2. Well, it’s better than the meaningless “Malaysia Truly Asia” slogan. I do think it is an improvement on “touch your heart”, but the graphic is a bit childish IMHO. I’d like to see something like “Taiwan: A million landscapes, one beautiful island” or even better, “Taiwan: We’re Not China”. 🙂

  3. This is the most awful logo ever designed it looks like a kindergarten art designer did it. shame on Taiwan for paying money to a UK art firm to mock Tawian. this would NEVER happen in Japan or China. YUCK. the slogan is nice, yes, but the iamges are grade C sophmoric. no wonder Taiwan sucks with tourism. nice country ncie people yes but sucky tourism crap and this one takes the cake. coutn me out re Winkreative

  4. and it looks just like an advert for China, mainland China that is. even the two characters look like Chinese sereotupes not Taiwan Taike people, terrrible execution. i am going to write the UK firm and give em a piece my Blight mind!

  5. and … It packs in a bunch of FAKE symbols of Taiwan — Taipei 101 features prominently while the building at the top might be the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall although it could also be a generic BEIJING representation of BEIJING halls . There are also fireworks WTF, lanterns, a teapot, a bird, flower blossoms, a butterfly, WTF? two CARTOON STEEOTYPES SWITH BOWL HAIRCUTS people eating and an Aboriginal motif. WHERE? it is disgusting the entire thing..

    The only obvious thing that is perhaps missing is an image of Taiwan’s mountains. ALSO YUP!

  6. but maybe the entire thing was designed for Kuso Japanese cute girl tourists in mind, since they are the main target. for a western white man like me a Brit, this stinks.

  7. REALLY? coulda fooled me….re ”Winkreative prides itself on creating value enhancement for all its clients over the last ten years through creative solutions anchored by a quality journalistic approach, plus an intuitive entrepreneurial extension of design and craft credentials.”

  8. While I don’t think it’s as awful as the other commenters (it IS infantile, though), I’m with Michael. I wish I’d had a crack at it.

    If they want a great logo and tourism commercial to show on CNN International (c’mon, even Angola has one of those) they should invite user-generated content – pro and non. If promising, the winner(s) would have won a prize and worked with professionals to create an international-standard tourism campaign. I bet they’d have gotten some great ideas.

  9. That design pattern and color scheme somehow remind me of Thailand, which reminds me of a sad fact that Taiwan doesn’t have her own color.

    Check out 2 gov official front pages and try to figure out what country it represents:

    (In Chinese) http://www.gov.tw/
    (In English) http://www.taiwan.gov.tw/mp.asp?mp=999

    To me they seem too commercialized, messy and soulless.

    jenna: “If they want a great logo and tourism commercial to show on CNN International (c’mon, even Angola has one of those)”

    When the DPP was in power, Taiwan had ads on CNN at a frequency of once per couple of weeks. And that counts only the time when I tuned in to the CNN.

    After Ma took power, which was almost 3 years now, I haven’t seen a single one. It seems to me that Ma gov kills the chance of internationally advocating Taiwan completely.

  10. Thanks for your comments everybody. I am surprised that it provoked such a strong reaction.

    I can’t see why it was necessary to hire a UK firm to design the logo. Surely there is enough design talent in Taiwan. A design competition, as Jenna suggested, would also be a good way of choosing a new logo.

  11. Whether one likes the logo or not, it’s much more important that the people who love Taiwan spread the world about how awesome place it is. Don’t care about the officials, logos, slogans. 🙂 Be a Taiwan-ambassador yourself….

  12. it caused such a big reaction in commentariat because YOU did not criticize the artwork in your initial post. you sort of fawned all over it. Please explain yourself.

  13. Robert Redbird, my attitude to the logo is quite neutral. Perhaps the design is overly cluttered, but otherwise I don’t find anything about it objectionable. I am not sure how many people actively pay attention to these logos. Indeed I can’t remember what the Tourist Bureau’s previous logo looked like.

  14. I’m in the minority here in that I personally like the style of the logo. It has that pseudo-Danish-childrens-book-illustration-by-way-of-Japanese-zakka-magazines style that is embraced by a certain subset of young women (like me, I guess). But I agree with the other comments that it doesn’t work if you are trying to appeal to a broad demographic. And I am upset to learn that it was designed by a UK firm. There are so many talented graphic designers here, many of whom are striving to create a unique cultural aesthetic to represent Taiwan. There’s zero reason why it had to be outsourced.

  15. I agree with those above who think the slogan is a great improvement.

    As for the graphics (which I don’t mind), some context might be helpful…

    The agency, Winkreative, is owned by Tyler Brule, editor of Monocle magazine. The aesthetic is broadly in line with most of the illustration in that magazine, what I would call ‘cardboard cut-out cute’. It is a look that also makes it onto the cover of Monocle, occasionally. See:

    Catherine is right about the Scandanavia-meets-Japan lineage; these countries make up a very large part of the content in Monocle (and also in the column Brule writes for the Financial Times): his ‘dream’ airline is called ‘Nippon Nordic Air’, for example.

    As for the talk of pro-China conspiracy, calm down folks. It is worth noting that Brule has talked (albeit vaguely) about not travelling to China or doing business there (reasons not spelled out but presumably some kind of protest). I’ve been interested to see a range of good Taiwan-related stories in Monocle, including multi-page spreads about the island’s underground music industry and other topics that don’t often reach the pages of top-shelf international magazines. (See the online video version here: http://www.monocle.com/sections/culture/Web-Articles/Taiwan-Hit-Factory/)

    (Taipei was one of the 5 other cities chosen as ‘honourable mentions’ – with multi-page full-colour photo spreads – in the most recent annual ‘best cities’ issue, too.)

    Also, probably the best ads I’ve seen for Taiwan have been in Monocle: A Hakka old-timer outside a tea-shop in Beipu; androgynous hip-young-things out on the town in Taipei; cycling the east coast, etc etc. This logo re-design is obviously part of a larger project which includes these ads (or maybe the ads were an earlier element in the client-agency relationship), which perhaps also explains why a local designer or agency was not used. A shame yes, but on the other hand it is nice having an influential magazine and agency like Brule’s in Taiwan’s corner.

    PS. Lest I seem too much of a fan, I should note that more often than not I cannot stand Brule’s columns in the FT. He is incredibly irritating, yet strangely compelling (and in the branding/retail field, usually spot on). It is definitely a ‘hate crush’…

  16. I’m with Catherine Shu here. The art is that kind of pseudo-Danish-childrens-book-illustration-by-way-of-Japanese-”zakka”-magazine style that is embraced by a certain subset of young women (like Catherine,for sure ). As for ”There are so many talented graphic designers here, many of whom are striving to create a unique cultural aesthetic to represent Taiwan. There’s zero reason why it had to be outsourced.” THAT is the crux of the problem. What would Jerry Fielder in Switzerland say, Yes, his actual address for Winkreative wink wink is in Geneva, not London. So where does truth lie? Surely a Taipei artist could have done this, or even Demos Chiang, the generalissimo’s grandson who loves to plagiarize others. Oops. Did i say that?

  17. A-hao: Well, that explains I feel so oddly compelled to buy each (pricey) issue of Monocle, even if the month’s content is otherwise of little interest to me.
    I noticed that their coverage of Taiwan is much more in-depth than other international publications, but I thought the Taiwan ads in Monocles sold here were created and inserted specifically for this market… I guess I was wrong? I only started reading Monocle a year and a half ago.
    Thanks for putting the redesign into context… it is interesting to know more about what demographic the tourism bureau is trying to reach.

  18. One thing to keep in mind, in addition to A Hao’s great post above is that the Tourism bureau makes these PR campaigns not really to grab tourists, that is not their MO, what they want to do is show their fellow paperpushers in the govt that they are doing worldclass PR work, it is all for inside Taiwan consumption and job promotion here. the tourists from Japan and China come here anyways, not bceause of some PR logo, they spend the money these PR campaings to pat each other on the back and say see what we did and they all climb up the career ladder with janice lai, the most incompetent tourist chief ever! If the govt really cared to be a intl tourist destination a la Japan or China or Thailand, they would first stop selling betel nut, prohit spitting everyhwere, clean up garbage from streets, stop teens from throwing tea cups out the window of buses, and generally ask the taiwan people to become polite, respectable human beings. which won;t happen for another 500 years. this is country bumpkin, land, who would come here for tourism? i am only here because i got married to my frigging wifey here and we can’t leave now as the inlaws made me prisoniere. The entire tourism logo thing is just for jaince Lai to get a promotion.

  19. Albert, what you say about the politics of it all may well be true. However, I think your criticisms of Taiwan are a bit exaggerated. Most people I know feel Taiwanese are generally polite and friendly. I don’t think stopping the sale of betel nut would have any impact on foreign tourist arrivals either.

  20. I think A-Hao makes a good point about this ad design possibly being part of a bigger business project with Monocle. Otherwise, given the usual government procurement regulations, I wonder how an ad design would be commissioned to or bid by a foreign design company in the UK.

    And @Echo — I’ve actually seen ads for Taiwan on CNN over the past year. I’ve also seen ads on whatever TV channel is being played in US airports while waiting to pass through immigration customs. That said, all the ads were quite terrible. I remember one had something to do with participation in the WHO, somehow justified by the damage Taiwan suffered from Typhoon Morakot. It was very odd. Perhaps the Bureau of Health made it, not Tourism.

  21. I think the new ad is great! It’s straightforward and simple – all the previous ads try to achieve too much in too little time, cramming in as much as it can about culture, food, infrastructure, etc.

    I think it’s nice that the Tourism Bureau decided to employ a Western perspective for its ad campaigns, especially one that is to be launched in Europe and the US.

  22. Update: the March 2011 edition of Monocle has a 36-page lift-out Taiwan travel guide with a variety of variations on the ‘Heart of Asia’ branding. The writers cover a lot of ground – from whisky bars in Taipei to the arts’n’music scene that has grown up around the Dulan Sugar Factory in Taidong, and much in between. Lots of short interviews with local business owners, restaurateurs, designers, musicians etc.

    Worth checking out – and sending to anyone overseas who you are trying to convince to visit Taiwan! I was trying to resist buying Monocle for a while but I made an exception (again) for this (I also blame a 3-hour delay at Sydney airport…).

  23. With all due respect and to further elaborate on riain’s comment above, the Philippines has been using the slogan/brand “Philippines: The Heart of Asia” since 2008 for its medical tourism promotions. The brand was first launched at the Philippine Health and Wellness Tourism Summit held in October 2008 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza which was attended by international delegates.

    Coinciding with said event, the http://www.philippinesheartofasia.ph website was also created along with the publication of a travel guide and directory. A copy of this guide can be downloaded and a short promotional video can also be viewed from the website. The video has also been uploaded in YouTube in April 2009 which can be viewed in this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho38B2yuKsc.

    I have already raised this with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau as well as the Philippines’ Department of Tourism Secretary. But at this point that both countries are embroiled in a diplomatic row, this issue may potentially further aggravate the situation between them. I reckon this might just be one of the concessions that the Philippines will use to try to appease Taiwan – by conceding the “Heart of Asia” brand to them. But will Taiwan be happy to still use it as a second-hand owner of the brand?

  24. It’s gotta be the first time in history that the heart is separate from the body and shaped like a liver. This campaign would have been more believable for Mongolia, which actually lies in the body of Asia. The concept does not inspire, primarily because it is NOT truthful.

  25. @Carlos LA – The Philippines, on the other hand, have not based its “Philippines: The Heart of Asia” brand in terms of its geographical location vis-a-vis the rest of Asia nor its shape. It was used to promote its medical tourism offer, focussing on what “Filipinos are widely known for which is the art of service, warmth, and friendliness to put the Philippines as the ‘heart’ of Asia.”

  26. Got this quote from the website of Seven Corners which featured an article from The Philippine Star entitled “RP Unveils Branding as ‘Heart of Asia'” supposedly published on November 15, 2009:

    “The international delegates to the first all-Filipino organized health and wellness tourism summit all agreed that branding the Philippines as “The Heart of Asia” for its medical tourism campaign is extremely apt: the Filipinos’ warmth, friendliness and hospitality, together with the kindness, care and compassion they extend to visitors and patients, all come together to create an ideal network of emotional support that would speed up and better the quality of one’s recovery from many ills- whether of the spirit of body.”


  27. Some surprisingly strong reactions here!
    Re: the cute aesthetic, a lot of foreigners in Taiwan go on about how infantile public art and the like is in Taiwan. The thing is, this is what Taiwanese people like, and art and design is made with their tastes in mind, not ours. To the Taiwanese it is not infantile and it’s arrogant to say their art should conform to our aesthetic values. Obviously in this case if their target audience is Westerners they should have tried harder to appeal to our tastes, but as mentioned above it is likely that they are actually targeting other Asians.

  28. I like the logo and the slogan. It’s easy to criticize, but it’s another thing to actually do something like that. Most of the criticism here is based on nothing with substance. Who takes the “heart of Asia” literally? It’s laughable. I really feel amused to read how many people think they would do a better logo and slogan.

    This negativity is unproductive and doesn’t lead anywhere. I personally try to see things in a positive way. Changing the logo and the slogan after so many years means they’re trying hard to make things better, I commend them for that. And I’m sure other improvements will be made this year, which is great. I ask the critics: What have you done to promote Taiwan? I know some bloggers have done a lot and I respect their opinion and criticism, but some others are just all talk and nothing more.

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