The Conservative Party is ditching its famous "freedom torch" logo after almost 30 years and replacing it with an oak tree.

The move is part of new leader David Cameron’s rebranding of the party and is aimed at promoting a more modern, softer, environmentally friendly image.

The new logo was due to be unveiled next week before the party’s annual conference but leaked out when members received their conference passes with the logo printed on them.

The oak tree was developed by Perfect Day and cost £40,000. The party says it consulted members across the country, and the values they wanted to see represented were "strength, endurance, renewal and growth".

But the new logo has already come under fire from party activists, who like the oak tree concept but not the execution. Tim Montgomerie, who was chief of staff for Iain Duncan Smith when he was Tory leader, and who is now editor of the Conservativehome.com website, says it is a "really ugly thing that looks like a smudge".

The freedom torch was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1977 and revamped by Michael Howard in 2004.

Last month, the Conservatives appointed former Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R account director Anna-Maren Ashford as its marketing chief (MW August 24).