An Orangutan in Sunglasses: Not a Pretty Sight


There are times when sunglasses are just not an appropriate accessory. Just ask the Malaysian tourism ministry. A tourism logo introduced back in January (2018) features an orangutan, a proboscis monkey, and a turtle all wearing what appear to be wayfarer sunglasses. The logo is so ugly that Malaysian citizens are demanding it be dumped. It will not be dumped, but it will be redesigned.

Malaysia’s tourism ministry released the ‘Visit Malaysia 2020‘ logo early in 2018 as part of a concerted effort to promote tourism in the Southeast Asian country. Whoever came up with the design thought it would be nice to feature some of the things Malaysia is known for. They include Malaysian architecture, a few of its native species, palm trees, and water. The logo is designed to appear as a postage stamp.

It’s hard to say exactly what it is about the logo that has so many feeling disturbed. But from the reviews, it is easy to see that a lot of them are unhappy with the sunglasses. It’s not hard to see why. One glance instantly draws your attention to the orangutan and proboscis monkey, both of which are wearing sunglasses that are just as unappealing as the animals themselves.

They Don’t Look Normal

You could make the case that Malays are unhappy with the animals and their sunglasses alike. And maybe they are. But the turtle looks pretty normal – even cool to some degree – except for the oversized sunglasses on its small face. Perhaps the orangutan and monkey would have also looked pretty cool without the shades.

Simply put, the sunglasses just do not look normal. It appears as though the artist was trying to create black wayfarers similar to what Schwarzenegger wore in The Terminator. But they don’t really look like wayfarers at all. They do not actually look like anything in particular – and that may be the problem.

According to Utah-based Olympic Eyewear, a designer and purveyor of wholesale designer sunglasses, wayfarers have a very distinct design that is easy to spot. For that matter, so do aviators and cat eye sunglasses. But the sunglasses on the Visit Malaysia primates and turtle look like they are an amalgamation of all three styles.

Their sunglasses look like cheap shades that you might buy from a street vendor in New York. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of sunglasses, but that’s not the image Malaysian citizens want their tourism logo to present. They are looking for something a bit more sophisticated.

There’s a Lesson Here

We can laugh somewhat at the Malaysian tourism logo because it is by no means earthshattering. Moreover, Malaysian tourism will continue whether the tourism ministry completely replaces the logo or just tweaks it a bit. But there still is a lesson to be learned here. That lesson is one of public perception.

There are lots of different styles of sunglasses. And with each style come multiple choices for frame color, lens color, and accessories. Designers don’t just snap their fingers and come up with all these choices out of thin air. A lot goes into design. Wholesale Distributors like Olympic Eyewear put a lot of thought into their creations knowing that how the public perceives them will have a significant impact on sales.

Make a pair of ugly sunglasses and they will probably not sell. Make a pair that looks sleek, modern, and as hip as possible and you are likely to score a big win. We wear sunglasses mostly for eye protection. We buy them for looks. It is all about perception in the end.