As our summer hit the mid-point, we celebrated the Santa Marija feast. In logistics this has an added significance as we commemorate Operation Pedestal in World War II, in August of 1942, when the island was in a dire situation and about to surrender. Fourteen ships in the operation including SS Ohio with HMS Ledbury secured to her side were escorted in the Grand Harbour by Dockyard tugs bringing food supplies, fuel, and hope to the Maltese who were battered and famished by the heavy bombings of the war. Logistics at its best.
But in this episode, we also celebrate the genesis of our brand, our flagship colour and our three-stripe logo. In an interview with one of the Vella brothers, Guzi, he tells us how, back in the day as a youngster, he had a fancy for the orange colour and one day he painted a truck in orange, much to the disappointment of his brothers. The colour was then liked by customers and soon became our flagship colour. Guzi also shares his memories of how he got inspired from a toy truck for his son Antoine, and that was where our logo was conceived. I will share with you another dimension of our current branding, the #WeAreOrange tag line, which some may think is just a cliché.
But before I come to that, I will share with you how the logo at the back of iPhone or Mac, developed into one of the most powerful brands globally. There is a connection.
Again, in World War II, a certain Alan Turing laid the foundations for the modern-day computer, pioneered research into artificial intelligence, and managed to unlock German wartime codes. The Normandy landings of the Allies, Operation Overlord better known as D-Day on 6th June 1944 made abundant use of intelligence provided by Alan’s methods. Sadly, his work was unrecognised, and he was jailed for ‘gross’ indecency. He was also humiliated by injections intended to ‘cure’ his sexual orientation. Unthinkable today! Sadly enough, Alan committed suicide on 7th June of 1954, 10 years after the Normandy landings. He had laced an apple with cyanide and bit it. It is said, although never confirmed lest neither ever negated by Steve Jobs founder of Apple, that the genesis of the logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it, was a tribute to Alan Turing. This could well be a myth. Steve Jobs could have dismissed the creation of myths, but he chose not to.
So, you would be wondering, what does this story have to do with our company? A few decades after Guzi’s love affair with the orange colour, and the company making the colour its flagship standard, I was onboarded as the new CEO. At that time, we were regrouping and rethinking our corporate positioning, purpose and culture, the typical starting blocks of corporate strategy. We were searching for our deep-rooted endowments and what people had known us for. We found what we were looking for. Our business plan starts off with two quotes. One is what my father who was a veteran customs officer said of the company when I had told him I was joining it. He knew the company well in his line of duty and he had said of it as being made up of the best gentlemen in the port. The other is what a long-time friend of mine who was a long-standing client of the company told me. ‘If you are looking for a cheap price, don’t go there. If you are looking for peace of mind, don’t look anywhere else.’ These two quotes became the bedrock of our raison d’être, our reason of existence, our purpose, what we stand for in the company on my watch.
So, in one of the clashing of the minds sessions I used to have with Jes and James from our marketing, we marvelled at how Steve Jobs had managed to change the dictionary meaning of the word ‘apple’. Top of mind, people would say ‘apple’ is a phone not a fruit. That set us thinking to ourselves. The word ‘orange’, which is a fruit like an apple is, is also our flagship colour so dominant on the roads with close-to-four kilometres of trucks and trailers. We wondered whether ‘orange’ could become what captures the indomitable spirit of our company. We could actually give the word ‘orange’ a meaning, an interpretation, a spirit, similar to what Steve Jobs did with the word ‘apple’. That is how we came up with our brand tagline #WeAreOrange.
‘Orange’ for us, and for many stakeholders, signifies the greatness of our company in ethical entrepreneurship, fairness in business, commitment to Malta just like the Santa Marija Convoy, and inclusivity of all people of different creed, gender, orientation, ability and limitations, as is now coined under ESG. Whether the sad story of Alan Turing having been the inspiration of the iPhone logo, is true or not, I can confirm that our ‘Orange’ in our tagline, is definitely a representation of a purpose and culture that go far beyond the name of a colour or a fruit.
Read The Express Link 5 here: