Designing authenticity: Reimagining the seal of San Vicente


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“The first he asked of this particular object was not ‘How should it look?’ but ‘What must it do?'” – Beatrice Warde, 1930

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Throughout history, seals have been used to guarantee authenticity. Whether you’re talking about Ancient Mesopotamia, Medieval Europe, or the rings of the Egyptian pharaohs, documents marked by seals have been deemed one of the most invaluable sources of history today.

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Seals are still in use today to authenticate documents of legal import, mostly from government agencies or other bodies of authority. While they may not necessarily come in the form of hard wax or clay as they may have in 3000 BC, seals today are designed to represent entities and to assure the legitimacy of any formal correspondence.

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In the case of our client, San Vicente Mayor Pie Alvarez asked us to help reimagine the municipality seal which was primarily used on government stationery, business cards, and other paraphernalia.

San Vicente is an emerging tourist destination in the island of Palawan. She wanted to standardize her documents to avoid shady transactions and assure her stakeholders and investors that any correspondence coming from San Vicente municipality was legitimate.

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When we restyled the seal, we wanted to make sure the elements were represented in the new design. Each element of the seal represented an aspect or a thing of value identified by the community, and we wanted to make sure they were represented in the redesign.

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The seal also had to be easily reproduced. We designed it in one color, so that even if the seal had to be printed with only black ink the elements wouldn’t be lost in the process. The seal needed to be unimposing, clean, and professional.

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The seal has transcended multiple millenia, both BC and AD. Today, while seals are still used to authenticate they are also used to represent. The appearance of the San Vicente municipal seal on any document is not just a guarantee of legitimacy, but also a symbol of the community and the values they uphold.

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San Vicente is a first class municipality located in the north-western side of the main island of Palawan, Philippines. It is an emerging tourist destination for those seeking out more of what the Philippines has to offer.