Branding 10,000 Lakes


Most of us visit lakes occasionally. They are quite the destination in the summer, when swimming, fishing and water sports are popular ways of dealing with the heat. Nonetheless, most lakes have definite shortcomings. Although I rave about their natural beauty, many are kind of ugly in practice. Even at their best, they are dirty and require an immense amount of packing. Given these factors, it is surprising that spending weeks of our valuable summer vacation at the lake is somewhat of an all-American pastime.

Lake vacations tend to be popular not because of branding, but rather in spite of it. Can you think of a popular and commonplace ‘lake brand’? I can’t. This is one area of destination branding that seems largely untapped.

I recently discovered a blog dedicated to creating a logo design for each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. The author points out that lake logos tend to be ugly. A quick survey of the genre led me to agree with this statement. The goal of the blog is to create an attractive and modern logo design for Minnesota’s lakes, simply to rethink the entire genre.

I browsed the website a bit. One of the things that I liked was that the logo designs did not use the images commonly seen in lake logos, like waves and water. Instead, most tie into the lake in question’s name. For example, Double Lake has shadowing that creates a double image, while Spur Lake features the image of a lake.

Most of the logos are rather simple and use obvious images relating to the name, but this is demanded by time. The writer is creating one logo per day, which is quite a challenge. Even at this rate, it will take a little over 27 years to design a logo for each one. I can only hope that the website owner does not have a full time day job!

There is a reason that I write about destination logos so much on this blog. Destination branding is becoming big business in the United States and indeed throughout the world. It may be one of the fastest growing genres of logo design, which makes it automatically interesting to the design geeks among us. The rules for destination logo design are still being written, which means that a single good design (or even a bad one) can have a huge amount of impact on the future of the industry.

One of the most important parts of destination branding actually has nothing to do with actual design. It is the all-important first step, that of determining exactly what sets the area apart and why people should visit it. Many of the logos in Branding 10,000 Lakes seem to fall short in this area, but the one-logo-per-day schedule surely has an adverse effect on the amount of forethought that can go into each design.

I admire the effort and stamina it must take to delve into such a huge design project. The designer behind Branding 10,000 Lakes has their work cut out for them.