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Criticise the design but not the decision to redesign

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Judging by this week's postbag, the new RIBA logo has not gone down too well. Then again, given that a logo's primary function is to enter into collective consciousness, an unfamiliar logo is, by definition, unsuccessful and a new logo for an established brand is, inevitably, inferior to the one that is to be replaced.

Now that they are threatened with extinction, we have been struck by a wave of fondness and nostalgia for the plump and stately RIBA lions. But did they really do their job that well?

As well as being familiar, an effective logo needs to be appropriate and distinctive. As a work of exemplary draftsmanship and classic heraldic design, the old logo is a fitting emblem for the long-established profession of architecture. It looks exactly as a logo should - perhaps to the point where it lacks distinctiveness.How many non-architects could distinguish the RIBA logo from the crests of numerous other venerable institutions?

As a design-led profession, architecture's visual branding ought to stand out. Heated disagreement about the merits or demerits of the new logo is a healthy indication of a profession that understands the importance of design and feels confident about its own views. More worrying are complaints about 'wasting' money on design - especially from a profession which is engaged in a constant struggle to combat the perception that it charges exorbitant fees for 'a few scribbles on a piece of paper'.

In a climate where the ability to 'deliver' is deemed the all-important architectural skill, the architectural drawing is relegated to a tool to facilitate construction.

The lovingly executed presentation drawing is all too often seen as simply a piece of propaganda to persuade or mislead planners, juries and unsuspecting clients.This week we announce the winners of the Bovis Lend Lease/Architects'Journal Awards, which are presented every year to the best exhibits in the architecture room of the Royal Academy Summer Show: a timely reminder that an architectural drawing - or model - is a work of art in its own right.

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