The Australian Securities and Investment Commission spent more than $100,000 on a re-brand consisting largely of a new font in the midst of a royal commission that sharply criticised its performance in regulating the finance and banking industry.
More than $40,000 went to creative development and almost $60,000 went to the creation of collateral ranging from website updates to new Microsoft Office templates.
Banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne criticised ASIC in his final report, saying “Too often, financial services entities that broke the law were not properly held to account”.
Federal Labor MP Matt Keogh, who asked ASIC to disclose the cost of its branding work in October last year, said the public would not stand for what he described as wasteful spending.
“When ASIC’s budget has been cut so significantly under the Liberal government, they can’t afford to be wasting taxpayer dollars,” Mr Keogh said.
“[Prime Minister Scott] Morrison promised a tough cop on the beat, what we got was simply comic, sans any true enforcement.”
ASIC senior executive leader corporate affairs Matthew Abbott said ASIC’s brand and font had not been updated in 20 years.
“ASIC’s branding update was about making sure ASIC’s materials are suitable for digital channels – and digital is what the people ASIC regulates use,” Mr Abbott said.
The redesign consisted of a new font and style guide, and ASIC’s website is now typeset in Tahoma, one of the standard Microsoft Office fonts.
At a parliamentary committee meeting last year, ASIC chairman James Shipton said the new branding was making the commission’s work more accessible.
“I hope you are finding our information easier to read. I certainly am,” Mr Shipton told the committee members.
ASIC’s spending is not unusual. Government bodies and businesses routinely spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on graphic design work.
Folk, the creative agency that delivered the ASIC branding, has won numerous federal government contracts for organisations ranging from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Folk declined to comment, but it is far from the only creative agency to win government contracts, which are typically put out to tender.
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