After seeing countless wrong versions of Kenya's Coat of Arms in use, we set out to digitally recreate the correct version for representation in digital instances and official government communication.
The National Coat of Arms of Kenya is the formal symbol that signifies the country’s sovereignty, authority and ownership. Many in Kenya are enthralled by HBO’s excellent drama series, Game of Thrones. In the show, the ruling houses of the seven kingdoms in the fictional continent of Westeros brazenly use Sigils (coats of arms) as markers of their static, regional or ancestral identities. Few pay as much attention to the identity symbol of our very own realm.
While our cultural industries and ministries engage in discourse on the complicated notions of Kenyan identity, authenticity, and inclusiveness, provision to designers of tangible stuff to work with in the form of guidelines is rare. Only recently, there was a lot of social media buzz about the misspelling of the word president in the Deputy President’s podium, few however noticed that the even when this was corrected, the Coat of Arms remained positioned in a slanted orientation.
For Kenya, the national Coat of Arms, or state emblem, is the highest visual symbol of the State. It is used by the Kenyan Government, ministries and agencies, statutory and non-statutory authorities, the parliament, law courts, and tribunals. For many years, official government collateral was always printed by the Government Press or the agency in question. In recent years, a liberalization of the production of government documents has introduced modernist creativity and a humanization of political material from government sources – this is positive. What has suffered badly since, is the misapplication of usage guidelines. Perhaps the worst thing that design can bring to an official document, is to make it look unofficial.
The first problem with the application of the Kenya Coat of Arms is the existence of specimens of the Coat of Arms that use heraldic lions. The kind beloved by the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. Unfortunately, designers searching for “Kenya Coat of Arms” through Google Images find and end up using wrong emblems. In addition, some of the most recognized online resources on the Kenya Coat of Arms (including Wikipedia) also fall victim to this basic error.
Even Jon Snow, who knows next to nothing, is aware that the African lion has claws as long and as sharp as any. As well as reintroducing the African lions, we’ve put up a clear & accurate copy of the Kenya Coat of Arms for public use. This allows the rich & meaningful detail of the elements of the Coat of Arms to be accurately represented in print & digital applications.
The Coat of Arms, in its most natural form, presents itself differently in different resolutions. In these modern times, the frequency and volume of digital usage of the Coat of Arms for screen consumption has outstripped printed use. Therefore, we developed a screen-friendly version for smaller devices and very small prints.
Designers committed to detail will know that to optimize the legibility of some graphical elements, use of recursive-blur and other techniques are necessary to maintain clarity. The simplified version of the Coat of Arms has a lower spatial frequency, allowing the overall clarity of the image at low resolutions to be much more defined, in comparison to the more detailed version. The detailed version of the Coat of Arms had a significantly higher spatial frequency, that allow the intricacies of the design to be better appreciated at significantly larger sizes and higher resolutions.
We at ARK take the view, that the misrepresentation of the Coat of Arms – the state’s logo, so to speak – reflects badly on us. It results in diluting the authority of the agency or office involved, and risks ending up as comic fodder in the annals of social media. We feel that it is our patriotic duty to provide a high quality vector format for both applications of the Coat of Arms.
NOTE: Use of the Kenyan Coat of Arms without permission may breach the Kenya: National Flag, Emblems and Names Act 1963 as well as other Criminal Acts.