Task 2.2: Design language – analysing graphic identities

The following article highlights the official symbols of the city of Brisbane and Sydney, explains the elements in the symbols and further compare and contrast the two cities’ symbols.

Brisbane’s Symbols:

The city of Brisbane has two official symbols (The Brisbane city corporate logo and  Coat of arms) that are used on all official documents pertaining to Brisbane. Let’s see what they entails:

Broisbane’s Corporate logo

Bne logo 

(Brisbane city council: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/council-information-rates/council-history/symbols-used-council)

The Brisbane City’s logo features the historic Brisbane City Hall. To many Brisbanians, the City Hall is their city’s community and cultural centre. and a place of stability, which has weathered the years of development around it (Brisbane City Council, 2016)

Brisbane’s Coat of arms

Bne Coat of arms 

(Brisbane city council: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/council-information-rates/council-history/symbols-used-council)

The Brisbane’s coat of arms, like the logo, is a key official symbol that represents the city’s presence. It features, according to the Brisbane City Council (2016) “two gryphons supporting the city shield; chosen to represent the city because of their spirited nature”. The shield is a tribut to a prominent astronomer, Sir Thomas Brisbane, who the city was named after. The symbols in the shield represent commercial activity and peace, wherein the motto “Meliora Sequimur” means ‘We aim for the best’. Also, we have a Wreath at the top, exhibiting the city’s colours: blue and gold.

Sydney’s Symbol

 Sydney coat of arms 

(City of Sydney: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/learn/sydneys-history/civic-history/symbols-of-the-city/coat-of-arms)

The current Sydney’s coat of arms, which replaces the oldest version in 1996, features the city’s two traditional heraldic symbols – the crown and anchor. The crown symbolises the authority of the city, while the anchor symbolises the fact a naval officer claimed Australia, with the harbor the site for settlement (city of Sydney, 2012). The upper third of the shield symbolises the arms of Thomas Townshend, Captain Cook and Sir Thomas Hughes.

The star signifies a traditional motif originated from European heraldry. The serpent represents a creator-being, according to the Eora people, to have formed the landscape in the Dreamtime as it travelled through the country. As explained by the City of Sydney (2012) “the rope and anchor highlights the diverse cultural origins of the people of Sydney, while the entwined rope and serpent suggest cultural harmony”.

Glickfeld (2010, p.31) emphasised that a logo is a unifying symbol and branding is concerned with the overall application of that symbol and its distinctive formal elements. To compare, the two coats of arms include distinctive shields which signify an important event or character to the cities. Undeniably, they both have animated and non-animated features, for example the serpent, star, & anchor in the Sydney’s symbol.

Despite, the two coats of arms having some things in common, there are things that contrast the two. This is an indication that branding of symbols focuses on key features of the cities that differ in many ways. For instance, The coat of arms of Brisbane has more animals than Sydney’s. Also, the shield in the Brisbane symbol is a tribute, while the shield in Sydney’s symbol does not have a unique meaning, but rather entails elements with specific meanings to the city. Furthermore, the Sydney’s symbol has no motto while Brisbane’s does have.



Glickfeld, E. (2010). On logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3), 26-32. Retrieved from http://onlineres.swin.edu.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/522077.pdf

Brisbane City Council, 14 July 2016, Corporate logo, retrieved on the 2 August 2016 from https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/council-information-rates/council-history/symbols-used-council

City of Sydney, 2012, The Coat of Arms, retrieved on the 2 August 2016 from http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/learn/sydneys-history/civic-history/symbols-of-the-city/coat-of-arms


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