NDP Emoji Launched For National Day

You know National Day is coming when Singaporeans see weird and wonderful things that we don’t usually see during other times of the year. For example, an inevitably jarring National Day theme song which sounds a bit too much like propaganda for people to behind. And the unofficial NDP songs produced in protest which usually end up sounding better.

This year, the folks behind the National Day Parade (NDP) have tried to get with the times, firstly by incorporating a hashtag into this year’s theme (#OneNationTogether) and now with our very own NDP 2017 emoji, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong:

Emo Over Emojis

Yes, this year’s NDP has an emoji — but it doesn’t make any sense at all. Here are some major design issues it has.

1. Emojis are NOT logos


Don’t get us wrong, we think that the NDP team did a good job creating the NDP logo. But emojis require different treatment. Unfortunately, the so-called “emoji” for NDP is basically just the logo for this year’s parade, shrunk to the size of an emoji.

This problem will become apparent when people start using the emoji during instant messaging. We imagine it’ll go something like this.

This emoji looks more like a violently exploded pimple being covered up by band-aid.

Major design issues:

  • Emojis are great because they transcend language barriers. A smiley emoji conveys the same feeling in any country and in any language. The beauty of emojis are how they are easily understood by all.

2. Emojis have NO TEXT in them

Emojis are supposed to convey in one simple logo feelings that would otherwise have to be conveyed in many words.

So instead of saying awkwardly “I’m happy with that statement you just made”, you simply use the smiley emoji.

Major design issues:

  • Emojis are meant to be a text replacement. They should not have text in them as that defeats the whole purpose.
  • This is also because any text becomes indecipherable once shrunk down to the size of an emoji. So it’s really pointless to have text which can’t even be seen.

No, a magnifying glass will not help you read that.

Also, because the text “NDP 2017” is there, it ensures that people can only use this emoji when they are talking about NDP 2017 — which will be over after Aug 9.

Which brings us to the next point:

3. Emojis should not be one-offs

Emojis are supposed to help aid regular conversation. We can’t think of any other way that this emoji can be used, except when we are talking about NDP 2017.

Does this mean we need to create another emoji for next year? We rather have the same emoji become the standard emoji to symbolise patriotism for our country. It could be used not just at NDP, but in regular conversation in matters of national pride. For example, after a Singaporean wins three Eisner Awards you’ll reply with that instead of a thumbs up emoji.

Right now, it just makes more sense to spell out NDP 2017 rather than to use the emoji and confuse people.

Major design issue:

  • This emoji has very limited shelf life. It’s hard to imagine people using this emoji after NDP 2017.

4. Too much is going on

Emojis are supposed to be simple representations that can be easily identified at a glance. The NDP 2017 “emoji” is too complicated. There are the 4 arms gripping each other, the words, and the fact that the 4 arms form the shape of Singapore. This works as a logo. But as an emoji, people will be unable to see any of that it’ll just look like a garbled mess.

Major design issue:

  • Emojis are meant to be immediately understood, even if you’re seeing it for the first time. This encourages use and adoption.

Our version

In case you think that we’re all talk but no action, in the spirit of National Day, we decided to spend 10 minutes modifying the existing NDP emoji into something more aesthetic.

Step 1: First, we removed the words.

Step 2: Then we removed the lines jutting out.

Step 3: We simplify it further so it would be distinguishable in smaller resolutions, by removing two of the hands.

Step 4: And finally, we rotated it so it’ll look more symmetrical and more of a symbol.


And now for our logo explanation!

The four fingers represent the main races in Singapore. The other hand represents our foreign workforce. Together, these two hands have come together to build Singapore. We acknowledge how we work with foreigners of other nationalities in harmony, hence the handshake like symbol. #onenationtogether indeed!

The emoji also looks like wings, which represents Singapore taking flight and achieving success on a global level, in many fields from swimming to comics.

So instead of it being used like this on just one day in just on year:

It’ll be used in conversation like this:

And maybe even in times like this.

Other local emoji designs

In 2015, integrated marketing communications agency AvenueOne came up with these 16 emojis based on common Singaporean terms.

We especially love the “kanasai” and “vomit blood” ones for being delighfully literal.


Be Creative

We only spent 10 minutes modifying our logo and certainly don’t expect our contribution to be taken seriously. But in the spirit of National Day, we hope to see efforts by more experienced local creatives to create something to embody the Singaporean experience.

And as always, those who do are free to send them over to us!

Featured image from ndp.org.sg and Twitter