Government logos are rarely impressive, or even adequate, but the logo for the United States Department of the Interior is downright atrocious. Designed to look like a seal, the logo design features the date that the department was begun (we already knew it was old!) and a buffalo standing in front of blue mountains and a glowing sunset. Could it get any worse?
The US Department of the Interior seems to be betting that the logo truly could not get worse. From the colors to the image, every element seems almost randomly chosen. The department obviously needs a new logo. However, instead of turning to a design professional, the bureaucracy is instead crowdsourcing the design.
Crowdsourcing is somewhat of a trend right now, an unfortunate trend that is lowering the standards of logo design by the hour. It is even more unfortunate when you consider that a good, professional logo design could usually be bought for even less money. In this case, the government agency plans to award a large sum of money to the winner. This money would be better spent in actually purchasing a professional logo. It could only get worse if the government decided to let citizens vote for their favorite from a number of finalists, which is fortunately not happening.
This logo may be no worse than its predecessor, but we predict that it will come and go quickly. While the old logo is not a beautiful specimen, it is similar to the old seal-type logos that are often seen in government agency logos. The buffalo makes little sense, but it is not completely random; most of us associate the animal with Midwestern America, which is certainly the ‘interior’. The new logo? Who knows what it will represent. If it is like many logos created in the same manner, it will be hastily created by someone will little experience in the field.
Not only does crowdsourcing add to the total design bill while lowering the quality of the product, it asks designers that are not winners (the majority, that is) to work for free. In a democratic nation that is currently in the midst of a recession, this is a bad choice—almost unforgivable. When you add in the fact that many designers in crowdsourcing sites are from third world countries, the political situation gets even more precarious. Crowdsourcing was, plain and simple, a bad choice for this logo, even more so than usual.
The end logo design will probably not be a good representative of this government agency, and that is truly unfortunate. Unfortunately, the real tragedy will be the numerous designers who are exploited in the making of the logo. Hopefully, awareness of the dangers of crowdsourcing will increase so we don’t see more government agencies turning to underpaid amateurs for the logo designs and images designed to represent them. There is no reason that the prize could not have been used to pay a qualified designer, with a better product and a less exploitative process.