Rebranding Blackwater: Your Brand is Much More than Your Name & Logo

May 21, 2009 | Branding

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Blackwater’s reputation and brand

Blackwater is a private security and military company that has won numerous government contracts to support the US military. While fulfilling their contracts in Iraq, they ended up under hostile fire and also inflicting harm on innocent Iraqi civillians. Many remember, with a shudder, hearing about several of Blackwater’s stand-offs and skirmishes that led to fatal shootings in 2007.

With a history like that, it’s understandable why Blackwater would want to start over with a new brand. The name Blackwater has become tainted, and is now synonomous with all of the distasteful practices that surround the war in Iraq and President Bush’s time in office.


Blackwater is renamed Xe

Blackwater had already made some adjustments to its logo that lessened the look of the bear in the cross-hairs. But now it has completely renamed itself as Xe. It has ditched the bear paw print and replaced it with a very tech-looking typography-only logo. It has also renamed it’s business units to such things as Guardian Flight Systems, GSD Manufacturing, and the U.S. Training Center.

As I mentioned in a previous post about the Tropicana rebranding, branding is so much more than just the design of your identity. Blackwater’s renaming and new identity is another example of where a better design cannot make up for problems with the brand itself.

Yes, it’s better designed but so what

From a design standpoint, clearly this logo is “better” designed. The old logo looked amateurish in it’s typographic treatment, and suggested it was a local hunter’s club, or maybe a recreational hockey league. It did not present itself like an international business. This new logo is well-executed, with good proportion, and clean lines. Although I would argue that it’s difficult for anyone to know how to pronounce the business name or to guess what they do. But that seems to be part of their plan. It is best to cut away from, rather than build on, the previous branding

But whether or not this rebranding is successful will not rely on great design, it will rely on America’s ability to forget the harm caused by the company behind the identity.


  1. Mike Maddaloni - The Hot Iron | May 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    People will not know Xe was Blackwater, which I think is their main goal.

    Next up – Wackenhut. That name doesn’t exactly exude confidence in security!


  2. Emily Brackett | May 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Yes, it’s seems that’s their goal. However I read this on the Brand New web site: Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Blackwater, explained that the company was changing its name because “the idea is to define the company as what it is today and not what it used to be.”

    So what is “Xe”??

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