Blackwater Softens Logo

Reeling from news portraying the company as reckless killers, Blackwater USA has changed its corporate logo.

In the private security business that has made Blackwater USA virtually a household name, being tough is part of the game. Not just for its rifle-carrying contractors but also for its corporate logo.

Blackwater Softens Logo Well, not anymore. The well-armed men remain, but the company’s roughneck logo — a bear’s paw print in a red crosshairs, under lettering that looks to have been ripped from a fifth of Jim Beam — has undergone a publicity-conscious, corporate scrubbing.

The company said the decision to update its logo was made long before Sept. 16, the day a Blackwater team guarding a State Department convoy in Baghdad fatally shot 17 Iraqis near a bustling traffic circle. But the new logo did not appear on Blackwater’s Web site (www.blackwaterusa.com), until after the incident, a Blackwater spokeswoman said.

The rifle-scope crosshairs so obvious in the old Blackwater logo have been reduced to a set of horizontal elipses that bracket, but no longer enclose, the paw print, which has also changed to more closely resemble an actual bear-paw imprint. The original Blackwater logo had thick white serif lettering draped over the crosshairs on a menacing black field. The new logo separates the image and the letters, which now appear in buttoned-down sans-serif black and slightly italicized on a white field.

Though the red elipses in the new logo retain the horizontal crosshairs, the overall look is far less “kick your butt” and much more “quarterly report,” some branding experts said. The new logo, which began to appear on some Blackwater material in late July, may also speak volumes about the company’s desire to begin its second decade on a more anodyne note. “I would say it’s a highly significant change; they’re repositioning themselves,” said Lauren Miller, the owner of MDesign, a graphic design firm in New York. “The old logo suggests that they’re targeting people. The new logo is a more ambiguous, more safe corporate logo.” “The subtle changes mean everything here,” Ms. Miller said, “by eliminating the scope of a sniper’s rifle.”

Indeed, the new logo is more evocative of the Clemson Tigers than a mercenary outfit.

The editors and readers of Danger Room have been submitting their own suggestions, which Sharon Weinberger has collected. My favorites:

Blackwater Hello Kitty LogoBlackwater Peace Sign Logo

She’s accepting new submissions and tallying the votes for those currently on display.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.