Here’s the challenge – branding the RBNZ a success when inflation has raced far beyond the 2-3 per cent target zone

David Farrar has drawn our attention to a splendid job opportunity at the Reserve Bank.

No, not to pitch in to meet the challenge set by The Governor and the Treasurer’s agreement that the appropriate target for monetary policy is to achieve an inflation rate of 2–3 per cent, on average, over time.

Rather, the RBNZ intends to appoint a Team Lead Brand and Design, to lead

“… a small but busy team of design specialists to work actively and collaboratively across the organisation to produce engaging brand and related content.”

Alongside this the appointee will:

  • Develop and maintain the RBNZ’s brand and design strategy
  • Work closely with others to plan and support the development of website content, social media content, initiatives and campaigns
  • Ensure the design team has a clear programme of work and is efficiently managing daily production workflow
  • Produce engaging collateral and digital content – this is a hands-on design role as well as a leadership opportunity
  • Evolve and maintain brand and design processes, templates, assets and guidelines and ensure these are communicated and understood across the business.

But Farrar raises a good question in the headline of his Kiwiblog post: Why does the Reserve Bank have a brand team?

He had been alerted to this job opportunity by Michael Reddell, a former RBNZ economist who publishes the Croaking Cassandra blog. Reddell is a tweeter, too, and had tweeted:

Any limits to public sector waste? How can it possibly take a “small but busy team” to do this sort of stuff for a geeky wholesale-focused competitor-less govt agency? A private entity competing aggressively for retail customers, sure. But this is the RB.

Farrar agrees.  In his first paragraph he splutters:

This is staggering. First the Reserve Bank decided it needed to be the Tane Mahuta of the financial system. They then decided they needed to be leading the debate on climate change. All this time they’ve let inflation shoot up to 6.9% and forecast to stay above 3% for years to come.

But now we find out that not only are they advertising for a brand and designer manager, but they have an entire brand and design team. Why the hell does a central bank need a brand team?

If once every say three to five years you want to do a brand refresh, then you can contract someone in for that. But this is just another example of the explosion in non-critical public sector jobs.  

Point of Order dug up this definition of a brand

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association).

There aren’t any other sellers of monetary policy management in this country, as far as we know.  Hence there is no need for our central bank – or any other central bank – to try to distinguish itself from competitors.

The RBNZ declared its interest in branding – or rebranding – in June last year when it declared:

We’ve updated our brand to better reflect our purpose and the mahi we do on behalf of all New Zealanders.


Inspired by the legend of Tāne Māhuta, our logo builds on our narrative as a kaitiaki (guardian) of the financial system in Aotearoa. This is more deeply explored in The Journey of Te Pūtea Matua: our Tāne Mahuta.

The “mahi” the bank is supposed to be doing – of course – includes getting inflation back into the 2-3 per cent target band.  And with annual inflation running almost at 7 per cent – well, but for the caveat “on average over time” in the target agreement, the bank’s efforts to perform that critical task are at risk of being branded a failure.

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