The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation rolled out a new logo last week and, predictably, reaction on social media has been mixed.
Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some hunters and fishermen liked the images of the white-tailed deer and white bass on the new logo, but objected to the scissor-tailed flycatcher, as the agency is largely funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
Others on social media assumed the department had spent millions on the new logo and wondered why that money wasn’t being used for wildlife projects like buying more trout for the winter fishing areas.
The Wildlife Department, which had operating expenses of $55.7 million last fiscal year, did not spend millions on the rebrand.
The agency contracted with Idea Ranch of Tulsa to research and create the new logo at a cost of $94,800. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit that helps the agency with projects, donated $10,000 toward the rebranding efforts.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, which oversees the agency’s budget, has authorized an additional $100,000 to replace the old logo with the new one on things like signs, uniforms and decals on agency vehicles.
An outdated logo
Micah Holmes, assistant chief of education and information for the Wildlife Department, said the old logo was immediately swapped out with the new one on the agency’s digital platforms, but it will be replaced with a different logo over time.
Some of it will happen through attrition, such as updating conservation area signs only when they need to be replaced anyway, Holmes said. In other cases, for example, the agency might put a sticker of the new logo over an old logo on a property entry sign, he said.
The old logo, which is basically the image of the state flag in the form of a shield, was created in 1965. Holmes said the agency thought it was time for a change.
“We felt that the logo was dated, that it probably didn’t have the recognition we thought it had,” Holmes said.
“We at the Wildlife Department have a lot of loyalty to that logo. That’s what we literally wear on our hearts. So we love it, but we wanted to have a company that helps us figure out if the public recognizes and identifies our logo with that in the same way.”
As it turned out, the public didn’t.
Idea Ranch, which has other outdoor businesses for clients, found through its surveys that few people recognized the Wildlife’s Department logo when the agency’s name was removed. The old logo didn’t reflect conservation either, except for the agency’s name.
An outdoor feeling
Idea Ranch created four logos for consideration, and the logo selected was the overwhelming choice of public focus groups and a committee of Wildlife Department employees.
The new logo is shaped like an arrowhead to represent the Native American tradition and heritage of the state. The white-tailed buck, the white bass (the state fish), and the scissor-tailed flycatcher (the state bird) represent three of the most widely recognized animal species in Oklahoma.
Those images also represent the agency’s three areas of conservation: hunting, fishing, and non-wildlife, wildlife that isn’t hunted for food or sport, such as bats, butterflies, and most birds.
The scissor-tailed flycatcher is one of the most iconic and easily recognizable images in the state, Holmes said. And it also represents non-game species that are also part of the agency’s mission, he said.
“We’re not just hunting and fishing,” he said. “We manage all of the state’s wildlife. It would have been incomplete not to have such a species.”
The colors of the new logo also have more of an outdoor feel than the previous logo.
“A lot of our (outdoors) favorite time of year is in the fall,” Holmes said. “Those are fall colors. And we wanted colors that were earthy, a little subdued.”
The new logo is part of a rebranding effort by the Wildlife Department, Holmes said.
“It’s not just about the logo,” he says. “It’s just part of the many different things that represent the brand… The idea is to be uniform in everything we do for the public.”
Bat recommended for endangered species listing
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to reclassify the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The bat, now listed as endangered, is facing extinction due to the spread of white nose syndrome, a deadly disease that affects cave-dwelling bats across the continent.
The northern long-eared bat can be found in parts of both the Ozark highlands and the Ouachita Mountains of eastern Oklahoma.
Reporter Ed Godfrey looks for stories that affect your life. Be it news, outdoor activities, sports – you name it, he wants to report it. Do you have a story idea? Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @EdGodfrey. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.