To use a bit of corporate-speak, there’s some re-branding going on over at the Agriculture Department. The USDA’s version of New Coke?

It’s consolidating its multitude of agencies and offices under a single, crisp logo.


Gone will be the dozens of logos, crests and banners used by the likes of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or the Foreign Agricultural Service. Say goodbye to the Rural Development’s nifty logo featuring a distinctive grain silo, and adieu to the water-drop image that graced the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s signage.

The department recently issued a “Visual Standards Guide” letting department employees know that all other logos were being phased out and replaced by the USDA’s main logo. That’s the bold “USDA” underlined by a sloping landscape. The image is known as “rolling hills,” and it’s been in use since the mid-1990s.

USDA communications director Matt Paul explained the reasons behind the brand consolidation. First, it’s meant to unify the wide-ranging agencies. “Because they are so diverse, it’s important that we increase the USDA’s overall identity and that people understand the value of the sum total of all that we do,” he said. To do that, we have to make the connection.”

The second reason resonates in these budget-strapped days: saving money. Paul estimates the USDA will trim costs by consolidating print and graphics orders for everything from letterhead to the lettering used on department-owned automobiles. And it’s not a matter of replacing what’s out there right away (which would be, uh, more expensive) but subbing the standard logo on any new items going forward, Paul said.

Of course, change always ruffles feathers, and there’s some grumbling among longtime employees who use — and maybe even like — the specialized logos.

And at least one agency is getting a waiver from the new edict. The National Forest Service gets to keep using that iconic pine tree logo.