Branding America’s Outdoors – The 50 State Game and Fish Department Logos

Table of Contents

A few weeks ago I began a new website design project for a charter fishing company in Wisconsin. The owner of the charter wanted a link on the website that would allow their clients to purchase an electronic Wisconsin fishing license prior to their trip into Lake Michigan. Yes. Great idea, let’s do it. I went to Google, as any tech-savy person would do before their fishing trip, and searched for “wisconsin fishing license” to grab the link.

First result: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website.

I clicked on it. What I found next still has me in shock. It led me down a rabbit hole of bad design that I can’t climb out of.

I design websites and logos for a living so I’m constantly looking out for good design and constructively criticizing the bad. You probably know where this is going by now. 

The Wisconsin DNR logo (and website) is bad. Really bad. I couldn’t believe it was real at first. My eyes sprung wide open and my jaw hit the floor. I might have choked on some air, I can’t remember it very clearly.

This is tough because like Wisconsin. I grew up in Iron River, Michigan (near the Upper Peninsula – Wisconsin border) and would often cross the Brule River to get a root beer at Sach’s with grandpa. My family went to Wisconsin Dells many times during summer. I’ve roller bladed the entire city of Superior. The Milwaukee Zoo is cool. I’ve been to a Brewer’s game. Cheese curds. I love the Miller Coors brewery and historic PBR brewery tours. Wisconsin is awesome. Why does their DNR brand suck?

This abomination of a logo kept me up for 3 nights with a million questions running through my head. Who designed this? How could a State department use this image as the face of their brand? Wouldn’t it drive people away instead of attract them? Why do the clouds look like scoops of vanilla ice cream? Are they just white cheese curds? Considering you can’t get any worse than this, the 49 other states must have good game and fish department logos… right?

WRONG.

And here we are. This is a collection of each state’s Game and Fish Department logo and my thoughts on them. Not all of them are bad. In fact, a few of them are fantastic.

Note: Each state has a different name for their fish and wildlife management agency, but most of them are variations of Department of Natural Resources and/or some combination of Game, Fish, Wildlife, Parks, etc.

Alabama

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Alabama

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