Corporate Eye

U.S. Department of the Interior Turns to Crowdsourcing for New Logo Design

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior published a call for new logo design entries on, a crowdsourcing site for logo design, web design, and writing. The current logo (referred to as a ‘seal’)  for the U.S. Department of the Interior (shown with this post) is nearly 100 years old and features what could easily be mistaken as a clip art buffalo. This is a logo redesign that is long overdue.

However, the existing seal won’t disappear. Instead, the new logo will be used with the existing seal. The main purpose for the new logo is for use on hats, T-shirts, jackets, and so on. The existing seal is complex and as any production person will tell you, not conducive to economic printing. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that companies still make today.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Logo Design project was posted and opened for entries on the CrowdSPRING website on June 1, 2011. The call for entries offered the following guidance:

“We’re looking for a logo that is both elegant (simple) and meaningful. DOI is a cabinet-level agency with responsibility for land management, energy production, conservation, and more. The design must appeal to both our internal and external audiences. More specifically, the logo must appeal to the 70,000 employees of Interior, as well as (in alphabetical order) cattlemen/ranchers, coal miners, conservationists, farmers, fishermen, historians, hunters, Native Americans & tribal entities, offshore oil and gas producers, recreation enthusiasts (boaters, hikers, campers) and others. We recognize that this is a lengthy list and include it for a sense of the breadth and scale of our missions.”

The call for entries cited the top 3 things the logo should convey as:

  • Stewardship of the land
  • Conservation of our natural resources
  • Goodness of purpose

That’s a tall order. The call for entries closed on June 15, 2011. A total of 617 logo entries were submitted, and a final decision has not yet been announced. The designer of the selected logo will receive $1,000 and the top two runners up will each receive $250.

Crowdsourcing is a great way to keep costs down and involve a larger audience in a company’s (or government agency’s) initiatives. And of course, risk is reduced because there isn’t a significant upfront investment. If the ‘right’ logo design doesn’t come from the crowdsourcing effort, it’s easy to pick up the pieces and try again. No one wants a repeat of The Gap’s logo fiasco of 2010.

What do you think of crowdsourcing logo design? Love it or hate it? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.