Prairie Rivers Network (external link) advocates for clean water and healthy rivers to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois. As part of accomplishing this goal, PRN created a River Action Team to train and encourage some of their members to lobby decision makers on important environmental issues. The organizers wanted a logo to represent the team and a flyer to announce their first training workshop.
The design rationale
Given that the acronym for River Action Team was RAT, the client suggested a rat in a canoe for the logo. A muskrat seemed like the perfect candidate: it is engaging because it looks pudgy and fuzzy, it uses its tail to propel itself through the water (somewhat like a canoe paddle), and its name even includes the word “rat” (although muskrats aren’t actually in the genus Rattus with true rats).
With a lesser-known animal like a muskrat, the greatest challenge was creating a drawing that was simple but still recognizable. The solution that finally worked was removing the outlines and defining the edges using negative space. The design resembled a woodcut, which was appropriately rustic and earthy for an environmental organization like PRN.
The finished drawing is more of a mascot rather than a logo (a logo would need to be even simpler). The muskrat retains a lot of details, such as its claws and double-layer fur, which help make it recognizable as a muskrat.
The event flyer was being posted online, not printed, so we didn’t have to stick with traditional paper measurement. Instead, the content determined the dimensions and form of the flyer. The green, blue, brown from the Prairie Rivers Network logo were used, which served to reinforce PRN as the parent organization of the River Action Team (external link).
Just wanted to pass along the overwhelming positive response our members have had to your logo. Everyone loves it. It makes me think that it might be fun to print up a few bumper stickers for our RATs!
Robert Hirschfeld, Water Policy Specialist
Prairie Rivers Network