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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Deconstructing SOCA
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

A new FBI-style crime-fighting agency has been launched in the UK, but what's its big cat logo all about?

If you're launching yourself as Britain's FBI and say you will make the lives of organised criminals "hell" then you need a dynamic logo to match the job.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has chosen a fierce big cat bearing its fangs and leaping over a stylised silver globe, with a crown capping it all.

It's bold but bears a striking resemblance to the logo of the 1980s children's cartoon series Thundercats. So was the comparison to the show - which featured humanoid cats battling evil mutants in the Earth's distant future - intentional? Soca declined to comment.

One thing's for sure, it's a far cry from traditional police badges and those of Soca's predecessors. The National Crime Squad used a standard police helmet badge with a red and yellow flower at its centre and the National Criminal Intelligence Service used its initials with a sword symbol.

So what is the logo all about and what does it say about Soca? The organisation itself is not willing to shed any light on the subject.

'Butch'

"It's not our policy to comment on the logo or the agency itself, we want to keep a low profile," says a spokesman. Very cloak and dagger.

So the Magazine asked Patrick Cox, the executive creative director of Wolff Olins, one of the country's biggest branding companies, for his opinion. He says the logo is not very sophisticated but gets a certain message across.

"It is a butch translation of a butch organisation," he says. "It uses a sharp-clawed cat to get across the message that the organisation has sharp claws and will use them to get their targets."

He looked at the four key elements:

THE CROWN

Thundercats logo
Thundercats - and Soca - are go!
The Soca logo is capped with a stylised version of the Royal crown familiar from other police insignia known as "helmet plates". The royal insignia is known as the Edward Crown, or Queen's Crown.

"It represents something traditional but with a modern, stylised twist," says Mr Cox. "It's saying the organisation is legitimate but works in a new, more modern way.

"It has overtones of movies or cartoons and looks like a throwing star - as if it could be ripped from the logo and use to kill someone - reinforcing the go-getting attitude of the organisation."

THE BIG CAT

The logo is dominated by a fierce big cat baring its fangs, which looks like a panther or a sabre-toothed tiger.

"The big cat is trying to get across the strength and aggression of Soca," he says. "It is telling criminals that they will come and get them.

"It is a representation of what they want their methods to be seen as - fierce and relentless."

GLOBE LINES

Tony Blair
Blair officially launched Soca
The big cat is leaping over the stylised silver globe, which has lines running along it on the left-hand side.

"The lines running along the globe have dots on each and represent a flow of information globally," he says. "It says Soca will work with organisations across the world and swap information to get the criminals it wants.

"It says this organisation is not about PCs on bike, not Dixon of Dock Green stuff, this is a modern crime-fighting force.

GLOBE GRID

On its right-hand side of the globe is a grid.

"The globe is about the international nature of the organisation and says it will target criminals across the world," he says.

"The grid on the right reinforce this message, that Soca will travel anywhere in the world to get its man and the criminals have nowhere to hide."

Summing up, Mr Cox says the logo is very Western and international, something new for a police organisation in this country but nothing new when it comes to design.

"It is very much in the manner of what you imagine would be used in a Jackie Chan movie, if they need a logo for some aggressive agency. It's not very sophisticated."


I was led to believe that in heraldic terms the beast should always face left as you look at it. This was so when the shield was worn on the left arm as most commonly is, the beast would appear to be running towards the enemy rather than away from them! Here we have a big cat running away from organised crime!
Ian White, London

It's lucky they didn't have a similar idea to Batman otherwise we'd have crime fighters running around in long johns with their y fronts over the top of them!
Keith, London

I thought the crown was a shopping basket when I first saw it.
Bob, London

If criminals weren't in fear already of this organisation, this logo will be the final nail. A big cat... They might as well hand themslves in now. Tax-payers money well spent as ever... (or something like that)
Matt, Glasgow, UK

The organisation may be serious, but the name and logo certainly made me laugh. Will international criminals really be scared by the Thundercats five-a-side footy team?
Ian, London

I think the logo is fantastic! Just the kind of thing my 6 year old son would love on his superhero's outfit. However, are grown professionals really expected to walk around with a badge like this & be taken seriously?
Mike, Southampton

Perhaps the devious intention here is to lull ne'er-do-wells into a false sense of security about the credulity of SOCA. Criminals will become complacent and perhaps sit around mocking the logo together, distracted as swarms of SOCA agents silently move in on their location...
Jonni Brown, York, UK

A Spokesperson from SOCA said "they don't like to comment on the logo or the agency itself, we want to keep a low profile" Hellooooo did the Prime Minister launch this agency in front of loads of press??? Very Low profile this was......not
John Russell, Glasgow

Could any of you critics come up with something better - it's hard to please everyone! Maybe you should try.....no? I didn't think so. At least it's modern and not old fashioned like so many things are nowadays.
Denise Nwosu, Brighouse

The stylised SOCA logo looks more something one would expect to find on a modern day football shirt. Is it SOCA or Soccer?
Dave Parish, Birmingham

Kitten playing with a ball of wool anyone?
John, London

Nice logo, more akin to a startup corporate with fat nobodies driving company cars than a crime fighting organisation, seriously though, i would like to be on the receiving end of the paycheck for the goup of brainiacs that came up with that idea because i am sure that was not cheap. Good luck and lets hope that this new organisation does a better job than its predecessors.
Tristan Smyth, Sutton Surrey

As is to be expected with anything devised by this Government, the emphasis is on image or branding rather than actual susbstance. OK so SOCA has a logo of a scary cat jumping over a ball, big deal. I bet the criminals are all quaking in their boots.
Julian, London UK

To me, the 'Globe lines' look more like either blips on a radar or a gun/missile targetting grid. I think it's more likely to symbolise the ability to zero-in or target those commiting crimes. It's still not a very subtle symbol, is it?
Heather Bingham, Wolverhampton, UK

I can just see the cheesy credits scrolling for the man from uncle-style tv show with the 'crime fighting organisation' S.O.C.A... GRROWL...
Anne, Oxford, UK

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