Designer Embarks On 27-Year Project To Rebrand The 10,000 Lakes

“As tourist destinations, lakes themselves are products,” Nicole Meyer says. “Each has a distinct personality, ecosystem, and specialty.”

Designer Nicole Meyer was raised near lakes in the suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin, then studied in Minnesota, another state never lacking for shoreline. “Growing up I was basically surrounded by lakes,” she tells Co.Design. After college, she moved to Phoenix and quickly realized how much she missed the watery landscape of her native Midwest. Fact is, she missed it so much, she decided to pay tribute to it: by designing a logo a day for each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. According to our count, the project will take about 27 years. Twenty-seven years!


“As tourist destinations, lakes themselves are products,” she says. “Each has a distinct personality, ecosystem, and specialty. There’s a big opportunity within lakes for differentiation through better branding.” The idea’s that by playing up these unique features (sailing, say, or fishing, or an odd name) the lakes could potentially attract more visitors. Give Dead Coon Lake a logo with a coon that’s got Xes over his eyes, as Meyer did, and you can pretty much guarantee people will never forget the place.

Her process:

I start by browsing a site that lists all of the lakes by county. Some days a name will inspire an idea right away, and I’ll run with it. Other days, it takes more digging and deciding what kind of feeling the name elicits. For each lake, I try to research and learn as much about it as possible, so that the mark will come from as strategic a direction as it can.

Meyer’s project is primarily an exercise: a way for her to flex her design skills and build her portfolio. The point isn’t to actually convince the lakes–and the assorted bureaucrats who govern them–to adopt her ideas. Though she says she hopes some of them will follow her lead and rejigger their image (“and I would definitely be willing to help them out with that,” she says).

As of September 25, she had completed 73 logos. Just 9,928 left to go!

[Images courtesy of Nicole Meyer]


About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D