When it comes to military badges little changes creep in over time. Some are intentional but others are destroying the original design. How can you be sure you're using the right badge?


Image: The fine art of badge re-drawing

Military insignia, or badges as they are often referred, carry with them a strong connection to the traditions of service and history, but they are not set in stone.  Regardless of the arm of military service it represents or the particular role it denotes, badges can and do evolve.

Common intentional changes over the years include things such as updating the Royal Crown, which was last done in the 1950s to reflect the accession of Queen Elizabeth to the throne. The Kings’ (Tudor) Crown was replaced with the Queen's (St. Edward's) Crown.  In other cases a new technology or capability is added to a design or a new design created to reflect a new role. And occasionally a badge is simply redesigned to reflect changing times.

But other unwanted changes, particularly to printed insignia, can creep in. Sometimes it’s because someone used a photocopy of a photocopy for artwork and details are lost or confused. Little things that may be quite symbolic can be innocently altered – a laurel might lose some detail, orbs appear or disappear above crowns, two lines become one, or scroll patterns change.  They may be little changes but when they occur in isolation it can mean that a single unit, squadron or corps can have multiple badge designs in circulation and more importantly, many of them are just wrong.

Today in each service a Brand Manager has responsibility for the integrity of all insignia and guidance on their usage.

Brand Navy was the first major undertaking by a service to protect the integrity of its insignia and it has proved a great success. Air Force also had its badges re-drawn to provide fresh detailed drawings and guidance for those who need a badge for official purposes. Army is currently having its corps badges re-drawn.

This means people can simply contact the relevant service Brand Manager to get a high resolution artwork file that will translate to modern media and production styles

Army Brand Manager Kate Kovacevic said having high quality emblems is a key part of protecting the history and traditions of the Army.

“We are working with BrandNet in Canberra to re-draw the Rising Sun badge and corps emblems in a consistent and modern style that is true to the original hand-painted artwork,” Ms Kovacevic said.

“This helps our Army to always be presented as the professional and contemporary organisation that it is.”

BrandNet Product Development Director, Lindsey Davie, believes her design team’s years of experience working with each of the services, both in developing insignia and in placing insignia on products, gave them a strong capability to undertake the re-drawing of current badges.

“We have reproduced many badges in official products for each of the services and have created a big collection of original drawings and documentation relating to the designs,” she said. “In some cases we have had to scour through old records and photographs to find details that have been lost to time, so re-drawing badges is a challenge we are well equipped to manage.”

Ms Davie says the way badges corrupt over time is a bit like the old game of Chinese Whispers. The message changes each time it is passed on and before you know it you have lost the original intent completely.

The safeguard provided by the Brand Managers within Navy, Army and Air Force is essential to protecting the quality and intent of the designs, as well as the traditions of each service. People wanting products carrying an official insignia from any of the service shops managed by BrandNet should always contact the relevant Brand Manager before committing to production. This applies to people in Defence and in outside organisations.

Military Voice

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