Logos and fonts: Channeling my inner feminist

July 15, 2010

One of my tech writer colleagues in the US is involved as a leader in the Girl Scouts. She asked our tech writing group what we thought of the new logo and font that have been designed for the Girl Scouts and sent us a link to the new designs (http://originalchampionsofdesign.com/).

Here are before and after images of the logo:

And before and after images of the font with the logo:

As I looked closely at both, I got angry — and my inner feminist started to emerge. Here was a group that supposedly empowers young girls, teenagers, and young adult women to be independent and resourceful, yet by the subtlety of the logo and font change the designers have stepped back from that — in my opinion.

Here’s my reaction to these changes, showing how subtle changes logo and font  styles can change perceptions. I thought these battles had all been fought back in the 60s and 70s. Apparently not.

I don’t like the logo. I particularly don’t like how the stylised girls are depicted. Why?

  • They look like women, not girls
  • Straight noses are obviously not acceptable — they had to make them all little upturned perky noses that most people can only get through surgery
  • Long flowing locks are the look, and oh, we’ll cover the first figure’s eyes with her hair (demure coquette?)
  • Pouty bee-sting lips and gapey ‘vacant’ mouths are obviously in
  • And let’s straighten their long necks. We couldn’t have any hint of a roundness or a double chin, could we?

The logo doesn’t show strong, independent girls/teenagers to me. It shows vacuous princesses.

And the problem with the font? By making it all lower case, it takes away strength. It makes it look like little girls’ printing — I almost expected a little heart over the ‘i’. Compare the before/afters of the aqua logo and text with the new green one. The new font is more rounded, all lower case, without a period (registered mark). It’s submissive! The aqua one is MUCH stronger (even though I’m not fussed with the aqua colour). It makes a statement.

And the green? It’s an awful shade. Are they trying to cash in on the ‘green washing’ going on with other products/labels/logos?

I scrolled further down the page and found that the same logo is used for the Brownies. Now I don’t know what age you have to be in the US to be a Brownie, but when I was a kid, it was pretty much open to girls from about 6 to 10 or 12. There’s NO WAY that logo depicts a girl of that age — it depicts a woman. Talk about not-so-subtle messages to little girls about growing up early and into one of those vacuous princesses.

You can see the design changes for yourself here (at least, you could on 11 July 2010 when I wrote this post): http://originalchampionsofdesign.com/

[Links last checked July 2010]


  1. Rhonda, I agree with you. You’re a lot more analytical about it than I am but I think the old logo is graceful, lovely, and upbeat looking. It says “aspiring girls of all races”. The new one looks clunky and crappy. It says “clueless blobs”. (And does the first face have bangs – or is she being eclipsed by the black face behind her?)

    Why did they clobber such a beautiful, graceful logo? It looks like someone tried to emulate the first one and missed.

    Your comments are “spot on”. IMHO.

  2. I was looking at Girl Scout logos and happened upon this page.
    I had no idea they were even thinking about changing it, let alone actually changed it since this is now 2011.

    As Kris mentioned before, all of your comments are right on the money, literally.
    Because it seems as though that’s what they’re depicting.
    Girls should grow up too fast and not have a chance to be a little girl and should depend on someone else to provide them lavishes instead of being a strong and independent woman of their own!

    And I don’t believe your comments are feminist in anyway.
    Rather I feel that your comments are that of a strong willed woman that believes in herself.
    And that’s what Girl Scouts is SUPPOSED to be about.

    All in all as was said before the new logo just looks wrong.

  3. I’m a cadet, and I don’t like the new emblem anywhere near as much as the old one. The only thing I really like about the new one is that it is finally the bottom is finally trefoil shaped. I think the old one just looks better.

  4. I actually like the new logo, you are missing the point and trying to make it seem like Girl Scouts made the changes they did (which were made by the image company not the non-profit it self) to portray what you see… I think this was just a new look for a new millenia-they wanted a change but wanted to stay as true to the original as possible…what else would you have had them do? I also feel the bangs make it look much more modern, most girls now days prefer to have bangs with their hair pulled back instead of the Susan B. Anthony bun featured in the oroginal. I also think the new logo looks more realistic in profile vs. the old which looked like the profile of a sillicone doll! As for the font change-this is a common trend in imaging and makes the name look more stream-lined, and yes it may look like little girl writing to you but you know what…it’s a girl-focused organization. The true trefoil shape is just the icing on the cake :)

  5. You should see the logos we have inflicted on us for Girlguiding UK we actually do have little hearts / flowers etc, very childish and dumbed down! Traditionally we have a trefoil which is a powerful logo with meaning to us and increasingly they use it less and less – it’s being replaced with ‘twee’ nonsense. :-(

  6. It’s a challenge to improve up on a classic design, and made more difficult by trying to comply with forced diversity initiatives that leaders have imposed upon society.

    Let’s give the benefit of the doubt that the intent was to promote the best ideals possible. From that, encouraging girls to aspire for a healthy and beautiful appearance is laudable, which includes good eating and exercise that would keep one lean and athletic, thereby precluding a double chin, obesity, and other medical conditions that are inappropriate for normal youth.

    Most young girls want long hair, so that’s hard to critique. Short hair is the domain of older women and married women more concerned with ease of maintenance than presenting their best appearance.

    As for noses, a pleasant appearing nose is an obvious choice because it presents an appealing sight. An aquiline or oversized nose isn’t gentle or desirable to most people and would not be a positive features in a graphic unless one was trying to appeal to a specific demographic while alienating most others.

    As for the mouths, that’s a difficult illustration issue in a profile. You might be reading too much into it.

  7. Hi Beth

    Thanks for your comments. As I stated in the post, this is all MY opinion.

    However, I’d question your statements re:
    * ‘aspire for a .. beautiful appearance’ (what does that mean? in whose eyes is someone deemed ‘beautiful’ and by what criteria?)
    * ‘lean and athletic, thereby precluding double chin, obesity, and other conditions… inappropriate for normal youth’ (what is ‘normal’? how do you reconcile obese or double-chinned youth who ARE athletic?)
    * ‘most young girls want long hair’ (where’s the research to back this up? and likewise the research to back up ‘short hair is the domain of older women and married women’? what does age or marital status have to do with hair length? nearly all the girls from my childhood had short hair, some grew it longer in their teens, but many went back to short hair in their late teens/early 20s — their marital status had nothing to do with it)
    * ‘more concerned with ease of maintenance than presenting their best appearance’ (this implies that long hair = best appearance and that short hair is not their best appearance, no matter the reason for short hair, whether it’s ease of maintenance, personal preference, more suitable for the work and other activities they do)
    * ‘a pleasing appearing nose… presents an appealing sight’ (in whose eyes? in whose culture? what was wrong with the straight nose they had previously? I made no suggestion of an aquiline or oversized nose — I just queried why they had to use a perky upturned nose)
    * ‘reading too much into it [mouths]’ (I don’t think so. Look at the very top graphic where #3 indicates how the top lip has changed and become poutier/more upturned/prominent)

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.


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