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Rebranding Logos For National Park Service Centennial Draw Criticisms


Editor's note: This corrects the intent of David Barna's "blurring the lines" comment from "an apparent reference" to creeping commercialism into the parks to making it more difficult for the public to discern the difference between the Park Service and the Park Foundation. 

Initial returns on the logos being used to promote the National Park Service's centennial in 2016 have been pretty harsh, with one Facebook commenter saying they look "like a bland fish crashing down," and another saying a third-grade student could have done better.

The centennial logos for the Park Service and the National Park Foundation that were released this week are intended to build public enthusiasm toward the agency's centennial in 2016. But if the initial comments made to the announcement on the Park Service's Facebook page are any indication, the money spent on crafting the logos might have been ill spent.

Since 1951, the official emblem for the Park Service has been an arrowhead bearing a mountain in the background with a sequoia and bison in the foreground. While that remains the agency's official emblem, the logos rolled out this week for the centennial campaign seemed empty in comparison. The dislike voiced by the Facebook commenters centers on the outline of an empty arrowhead and identical lettering for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, with only a slight change in colors.

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"Ugly and lacks creativity. One logo and just change the color?" wrote Michael Uffenbeck, a wildlife biological technician for the U.S. Forest Service. "Knowing government they likely spent 100s of hours making a logo a third grader could have done better in 10 minutes."

Among the other comments:

* "I find nothing at all to like about the new logo. Nada."

* "What is wrong with the original? As a former Parkie nothing is better. I will not display the new one."

* "What an ugly symbol, keep the historic arrowhead as it should be and has been for close to 100 years. That is the symbol of the national parks."

* "I like the arrowhead symbol because of what's inside it. The new ones look like a bland fish crashing down. The big letters are very ugly."

* "Boo. I don't like the new logos either. What about the historical context conveyed by the old logo? The old logo better explains visually what the NPS is founded on."

* "The new one is OK, but I like the incorporation of the mountain, tree and buffalo in the original. The original makes me think of the beautiful natural resources in our parks and reminds me how much I want to go to more of them. The new logo is a bit more bland and doesn't strike the emotional connection I have for the parks."

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The official NPS emblem since 1951.

* "Congratulations. Once again you've managed to obscure an anticipated celebration by reducing an iconic emblem to an outline void of its pictorial story in order to pander to 'Partnership.' Next, you'll announce that the 'special' interpretive programming will consist of gathering around a campfire and counting to 100 in unison. Remember the historic 75th celebration?... Didn't think so."

Some of the criticism came from Park Service staff.

"Too bad. So sad. I agree with the sentiment. Logo fail," commented Marsha Wassel, a writer and editor for the agency. "Could have and should have in my humble opinion included ideas from the field rather than a corporate board room. Don't get me started on the 'Find Your Park' idea."

(The Find Your Park initiative is seen by the Park Service and Park Foundation as a way to "reintroduce the national parks and the work of the National Park Service to a new generation of Americans, inviting them to visit and get involved.")

David Barna, the agency's former chief spokesman who retired last year, wrote simply, "The lines are starting to blurr...," a reference to making it harder for the public to tell the difference between the two organizations. 


I agree with all the comments on the poor 'rebranding' of the NPS logos.

The emptiness inside the arrowhead is a reflection of the current NPS leadership. NPS and DOI top leaders have lost their focus on the reason for the Parks and Seashores.... America's recreational access to the beauty and splendor of what belongs to the American taxpayer.

Some of us remember the near revolution in the ranks when Nixon tried to replace the Arrowhead and Buffalo on the badges with something "modern."

But in seeking some pictures of those things, I came across a very interesting item in Glacier's website and was surprised to learn that the arrowhead apparently dates back only to the early 1950's.

The text part of the logo is nice and clean and streamlined, but they really need to do something about that plain, unadorned arrowhead.  I certainly don't think of an arrowhead when I think of a national park, no matter where it is located.  Bleah.

I think the lettering looks like something from the 70's--but not cool. Just bland and uninteresting-- basically sucks big time.....


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