We need a new Skeptologists logo

By Phil Plait | April 25, 2008 6:54 pm

Personally, I like the current logo for The Skeptologists:

But some people are complaining that it looks too much like the logo for Indiana Jones. Well, duh. It’s supposed to! Still and all, we decided that it’s time to get a new one. So we’re opening up the floor on this one: got any talent? Create a logo, and then email it to brian[at]skeptoid.com or fax it to 949-606-9611. The contest ends Saturday, May 3, so get drawing!


Comments (72)

  1. LZ

    Well, I’ve not an artistic bone in my body, but that central “OLO” part of Skeptologists is crying out to be superimposed (two eyes and a nose) on a face of some kind – Randi’s, maybe?


  2. Rowsdower

    I’m not a graphic artist, but how about something involving the finger of God from Michelangelo’s Creation?

  3. Mark Martin

    Prize for winner?

  4. HobbesPDX

    Have you considered a name change while you’re at it? :)

    (not just because Skeptologists is way-too-darn-long)

  5. Greg E

    I’m glad my advice on this topic, along with a few others, has come to the forefront. Also, why would you want George Lucas looking at you funny legally by using that type of font/logo?

    Hopefully you’ll get a great graphic artist to provide you with a kick-ass logo more inspiring than the prototype one.

  6. Kol

    I’m not a marketing genius but maybe it needs to be simpler. You might try getting xkcd into the design mix.

  7. Randall

    I’ve done a bit of graphic design in the past, but frankly I’m not all that good at it; I’ll screw around later tonight and see what happens.

  8. Randall

    Oh, and I’m not the xkcd guy; sorry.

  9. Maltodextrin

    Any limit to the number of entries per person?

  10. Maltodextrin

    Nevermind, I noticed the website said no restrictions on anything.

  11. Arcan

    I like the design. It’s not just Indiana Jones! The typeface invokes an adventure feel, the kind they’d use to write “Suspense!” in classic movie trailers (after all that’s why Lucas used it). It’s heroic and exciting (if slightly tongue-in-cheek), and shouldn’t that be the kind of message The Skeptologists should be promoting? That thinking logically and scientifically can be just as interesting and “adventurous” as ghost stories and woo?

  12. Kol

    @Randall: I went “yay” and “aww” in record time there. Still, give it your best.

    @Hobbes: There really aren’t that many options for contrived nouns that describe what these heroes of reality are attempting to do. Someone already took the “science” prefix. I suppose it could be shortened to “Duh”, but that’s just not very catchy.

    I like the name. I agree that the logo needs work.

    Now if everyone would please refrain from admitting their shortcomings in graphic design, perhaps some graphic artists will take up the challenge.

    Be sure that Brian will be adequately compensated for the stuff that’s about to come in.

  13. Maltodextrin
  14. a

    I’d personally go with a more minimalist logo so I like the one above, but you should consider the mythbusters logo seen here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythbusters

    If only because it accurately depicts the kind of people Jamie and Adam are, its got that shop class feel to it and it manages to make a show that has a lot to do with scientific thinking look really cool.

    Then there’s that new discovery channel logo with just the words discovery channel with the earf in the big D.

    Or try one of those hip new soviet cyrillic inspired fonts.

  15. baryogenesis

    Malto: Looks “sciencey” . Very clean and neat. Maybe not too exciting and has that central piece of lab equipment with a bit of a yin/yang symbol (=balance). Overall, it appeals to me, but then, like I said, maybe not enough pizazz for the entertainment world.

  16. Pop

    Alone with the logo you’ll need a motto.

    Try this: “Question everything, even the truth.”

  17. Randall

    Here’s my current best shot; I’ll send it in formally after some feedback from you guys. It’s a little boring, but with a confusing word like “Skeptologists,” I’m not sure you want to do anything to make it harder to read.


  18. Scott

    Malt: Looks great. I don’t like the “The” though. I don’t think I’d sit it on the line. Or maybe its too thin.

    Its true logos are often simpler, however tv show logos seem to be an exception.

    think x factor, mythbusters, survivor

  19. James Hillier

    So far I find the original “Indiana Jones” style the easiest to read.

    That’s really the most important thing with a bit of an unwieldy name. Easy to say, hard to look at.

  20. Frett

    Here´s my first try please feel free to comment or provide criticism

  21. baryogenesis

    Randall: I think I had too many brews. Yours jumped out at me and very seriously like The Proctologist. Sorry, kidding. I think the heavy type did that to me. Frett: thinner line and yes with the spiral; wow, like it a lot!

  22. Cesar "cche"

    I made this quick on PS, i tried to achieve something modern from what i read on the site, but also misterious:


    hope you like it.

    I’ll improve it till may 3.

  23. Doug Ellison

    I must admit – I looked at the orig. logo and thought “That can’t last, the Indiana Jones guys will be all over them”. I’m not very arty, but I’ll have a think about it !

  24. jokergirl

    So is there some sort of prize? Do we get to go to CERN with you next time if we win? 😉

    Anyway, I’ll give it a shot!


  25. Since everyone else is posting their entries, I guess I’ll post mine too. It’s pretty simple. Feel free to comment. Also, I’m not sure how the links work on the comments here, so hopefully you won’t have to copy and paste the URL.


  26. Synonymous

    Personally, I think the logo and name don’t need changing, and dithering over it will only take energy away from other aspects of promotion. You can’t please everyone, and I don’t think the negative reactions are numerous enough to necessitate an overhaul.

  27. Synonymous

    Eh, double post, but to elaborate on the above: you want a logo with dash and panache – one that emphasizes that science can be fun, an adventure, and not just, as Yau-man put it, “not some esoteric thing that a geeky guy in some lab is doing”. That attitude makes people want to see the programs and counters the idea that it’s a wet blanket compared to those nutty, fun-loving UFO and ghost-hunting shows.

    The current logo accomplishes that. Many of the submissions linked on the thread so far are either too dry (black-text-on-white-backdrop, techie fonts) or too busy for an effective logo. Unless there’s another consideration of which we’re not aware, I’d stick with what you have.

  28. Mark

    OK, i just couldn’t resist:

    Start with the “Indiana Jones” theme, throw in a bit of glowing metal goodness from “Back to the future”, throw into 3D software, add a cheesy “Ghostbusters”-alike quote plus eerie glow in Photoshop, and this is what i got:


    It’s built in 3D, so there’s lots of fun that can be had in the animations department, with assembling over time or camera moves.
    Oh, and it’s using the font “Humanist”* – how’s that for subtle? 😉

    * I wished “Humanist Extra Bold” would’ve worked as well, but it’s “Ultra black italic” :)


  29. Hoonser

    Why should I lift one finger to design a new logo for this show for free? On top of that there’s a chance it might not even get picked. And on top of that if it does get picked I wouldn’t see one red cent from my design and the Skeptologists got some free graphic design work done all in the guise that we’re ‘helping’ this show in this ‘fun’ contest. Sorry no, screw you Skeptologists if you want a logo done why not show some respect to the art community and actually pay the money to have one done properly.

  30. Mark Martin

    I agree. It’s understandable that the show may be working right now on a rather tight budget. Perhaps the producers can’t afford to pay for extra graphics & transcriptions. But it would be appropriate to promise some modest compensation when the show goes into distribution.

  31. Mark

    “Why should I lift one finger to design a new logo for this show for free?”

    Just a few reasons off the top of my head, which need not apply to you, of course:
    – because i had fun doing so
    – because i had a chance to fool around with my 3D software
    – because i’d get a major ego boost if it actually got picked (hah, fat chance… 😉

    And don’t forget:
    – you don’t have to! Since you are not forced to design a new logo, why not let others have fun? I don’t see all the open source coders complain if their software is used at major companies to run the e-mail or the web server…

  32. Heinz Pierce

    I think the logo looks fine. Actually, it looks real nice as shown above.

    I think the major problem is the god-awful,eye burning, polka-dotted orange background color on the web site. When I first looked at it I assumed it was just another woo-woo site. Or a Brady bunch flashback. Either way, the web site itself needs a major (and a more professional) overhaul.

    Good luck with the show.

  33. Mark Martin


    There’s no argument that anyone inclined to is free and welcome to make a logo for the fun of it. But it’s still a perfectly legitimate question: Why do the producers expect such a free service when they, themselves, intend to make some revenue off it? The producers surely can’t afford to make their show for the fun of it. Lots of other people, interestingly enough, find themselves in the same situation.

    And it’s not just the logo. They’ve also solicited volunteers to do the transcriptions. I’ve done that before, and it’s a very time-consuming job. Is it too much to at least offer their volunteers screen credit? In the entertainment industry, screen credit is a valuable commodity which can lead to paying jobs in the future.

  34. Sheesh!
    Everybody’s a critic!
    Keep up the good work everybody!

  35. Everybody who’s not criticizing, that is…

  36. These logos are great! Keep ’em coming, and don’t forget to submit them!

    As for the negativity, I’m not surprised some people feel that way. I could give away money for free on this site and someone would whinge about it. Look: this whole project was done on spec. I paid out of pocket for my flight to LA and the hotel. We have no budget. If it gets picked up, yeah, we’ll have a budget. But for now we’re looking for help because we know that a show like this is needed, and people who read my site will tend to agree.

    If you don’t want to help, guess what? Don’t help. But don’t rain on the parade, OK?

  37. Mark Martin

    Richard B. Drumm said:

    Everybody’s a critic!”

    Open criticism is one of the most important tools of the scientific community. Criticism is good. Criticism makes people deal with reality. Reality is not polite, it’s just real.

  38. Sordid

    Last time I checked, graphical design was art, not science. And in art, it’s critique that’s important, not criticism.

  39. Mark Martin

    That’s splitting hairs, at best. My issue one post back was not even remotely about graphical design.

  40. stopgap

    How about for a prize the person who wins gets their name mentioned in the credits.

  41. Mark Martin


    Screen credit is a perfect suggestion. It’s free to the producers and can be useful to the creditee.

  42. Nat

    I really like yours! I think it keeps the original theme and adds the needed pazaz!
    I hope they go with something like that! (and hey, it would be super cool, if it was yours).

  43. Mark M.:
    My “Sheesh! Everybody’s a critic!” comment was meant to be reminiscent of Jimmy Durante’s quip! (This might be before your time. It’s dang near before mine!)

    I know what you mean, though, and Hoonser too, cause I get asked to do work for free from time to time and it does rankle. In -this- case, however, doing a freebie in exchange for bragging rights (and maybe a screen credit) is OK. It’d look pretty good on the old resume to have this show’s logo come from my shop.

    How about this inducement? If the show gets picked up, then the “winning” logo artist would get additional (paid this time) work from the producers.
    Zat fly?

  44. I assume, if the show does get picked up by a network, that they’d probably have either their own in-house design facility of a budget to cover design.

    The design would be a complete branding package that would extend beyond the titles, to include end credits, sets, props, transitions, lower thirds, promos, animated title sequence etc etc.

    So the title submitted here may not survive beyond the initial pitch, in which case a credit might not be an option.

    Here’s another one from me, with a more sinister feel, to create a sense of drama.


  45. Quiet Desperation

    someone would whinge about it.

    It’s called peer review. 😉

  46. Quiet Desperation

    Last time I checked, graphical design was art, not science. And in art, it’s critique that’s important, not criticism.

    Which is why art reviewers are call “art critiques”.

    Oh, wait…


  47. KC

    I stink at designing logos. But a few comments:

    Keep it simple. Logos are to eye-grabbing and to convey as much as possible in that one glance. The Mythbusters logo of the embossed letters “MYTHBUSTERS” on iron with a bit of rust around it does both. Dirty Jobs is another example.

    Don’t make it too simple. IMHO One of the worst logos is Lucent. What’s that supposed to represent? While the “Huh?” factor sometimes works – as with the Linux penguin, most of the time it doesn’t.

    Beware the busy logo. I almost submitted a tongue-in-cheek logo with a pyramid in the center and the words “The Skeptologists” in a circle around it. Problem is that as soon as I thought of it, I realized it was too busy and looked to stodgy.

    OTOH as I right this, I’m imagining the words “The Skeptologists” in sans-serif letters with white centers fading to light blue on the edges, against a black background, with what looks like an elongated white starburst above the letters. The problem is that it looks derivative of the “Alien” logo.

    Anyway, the fewer the elements the better. Convey the feel of the show in one glance. And be eye-catching.

  48. KC

    To “right” my last post, obviously I intended to write, er, “write.” Which may be another reason I stink at designing logos . . .

  49. Jamie G.

    So far I am diggin’ cche’s entry. I wonder what program he used to make it? Photoshop perhaps?

  50. Kol

    I realize that I’m about to contradict myself regarding simplicity but…

    Has anyone considered turning the word “Skeptologists” into an ambigram? Well, ok. I just did so I’ve answered my own question.

    From Wikipedia: “An ambigram, also sometimes known as an inversion, is a graphical figure that spells out a word not only in its form as presented, but also in another direction or orientation. The text can also consist of a few words, and the the text spelled out in the other direction or orientation is often the same, but can also be a different text.”

    Perhaps the title sequence could consist of a series of ambigrams presented in such a way that “Science” rotates to reveal “Reason”. It would be important for the ambigrams to EITHER compliment each other (as in the example above) or to be contradictory, such as “Faith” and “Logic”. Notice that the words to be transformed into an ambigram must have the same number of letters.

    In my head, I see a series of these rotations, one being replaced by the next, until the final ambigram is rotated to reveal “Skeptologists”. With a little morphing, that ambigram could then be transformed into one of the many supercool logos already submitted just here in the comment section.

    If any of you would like to mess around with the idea (or just play with ambigrams), there’s an online generator located here:


    The designs you’ll get from the generator will not be pretty by any means but you can use them as a template for fleshing out something that looks more professional.

    Now, to find 13 letter words that will suffice… The “compliment” or “contradict” formula for the sequence may very well depend on that. I suppose one could extend it to 16 characters (including “The” which could be morph-moved into position for the final logo) but…

    Ok. My other personality just told me to get to work. I trust his advice since we’re identical twins.


  51. Adela

    I like where you’re going with the concept Bob The Owl, very Holmesish and art deco puts a visual emphasis on investigation. Just needs polishing. Though some might with the hidden eye think secret society.
    They’re all good but the feel and tone I think should be less flashy.

  52. Adela

    Then again secret society has a sort of tongue in cheek subversion of trope to it for all those conspiracy bonks they are debunking. It could be ironic.

  53. KC

    Which was behind my idea of using a pyramid. :-)

  54. Mister Earl

    No art, just a suggestion for a shorter and possibly catchier name: Skeptix?

  55. I think it is very hard to design an effective logo before we have seen the show. The mythbusters logo works because of the hands-on way they approach each topic. As a simple example, if there is going to be lots of verbal confrontation in the show, you can use fire in the logo (either directly or in some abstract form, for example by using red and yellow colours).

    My other thought is that you need to be careful with existing special fonts. They will carry with them connotations of their primary use (the Indiana Jones connection of the current logo is a case in point). It is not a no-no, but one should be aware of this.

  56. Celtic_Evolution

    I just submitted my idea to use cast member silhouettes to make up some of the letters in “skeptologists” and use the intro to set it up… showing them explaining some sort of woo-woo bunk or other and freeze-framing on a moment where their body resembles one of the letters… then silhouetting it and moving on to the next cast member… till you have seven silhouettes that are filled in with the rest of the letters of “Skeptologists”… I don’t have a visual example of this, obviously, as I would need poses from the cast members… but hopefully you get the gist…

    Just a thought…

  57. Wow. So many great ideas! It would be hard to choose and I’m glad I’m not doing that job. I’m not a computer graphic person, so somebody else might take the lead on this, but I like Pat’s first more simple design (pmkelly.com/Monstergallery/skeptologists log 01.gif) but maybe add a “keyhole” design on the “O” and have an eye looking through this… You can see an version of this I cut from an old 40’s clipart book years ago and pasted on to one of my book covers by going to my website: http://www.themarkedward.com and then clicking on “shop,” go to the book “How to Increase You Income with ESP” (Sorry skeptics, I am after all a performer…) and you will see it pasted on the lower cover. I like the idea of peering into the unknown, magnifying glasses are good, but a keyhole with a starfield inside it might look more mysterious as well as send a message that we are not afraid to look through “closed doors.” My two cents…

  58. Just to qualify my opinion … I am a professional designer and visual brand specialist. I stare at logos all day and talk about them at parties. I AM that dorky. That being said, I know a thing or two about this topic.

    One of the best ways to kill a brand is to style it after something else. The logo may get some initial attention by looking like the Indiana Jones logo, but doing so pretty much dooms the idea to a slow death as the brand cannot stand on its own.

    I would love to see this show succeed. The biggest hurdles I see are the name and the logo. The idea will not stand by itself using play after play on existing thoughts.

    This is where good business ideas go to die off. Somehow, after many thousands of dollars are spent on every detail to get a new business off the ground, many logos are still drawn by whoever’s kid knows Photoshop the best. Presentation can absolutely make or break a new venture, so why it is so often left to non-professionals is beyond me. I know that in kindergarden we are all taught that we are all creative to some degree, and everyone’s opinion matters … but I can say pretty surely after working in the creative industry for awhile that this is NOT the case. Someone having photoshop doesn’t make one a designer anymore than having MS Word makes one a journalist. There is simply more to it than ‘looking good’.

    I’d advise that the contest end now, and someone get together the $2-3k it would cost to hire a specialist and have this done right. There is no sense in going 90% of the way, in my opinion, especially if that last 10% will make the difference.

  59. César "cche"
  60. riki

    I tend to agree with Bryan. I’m also a designer but I don’t normally do logos. You need to hire a professional. The identity of the show needs to stand on it’s own. Also I think the title “Skeptologists” is too obscure. It’s not a word that can be immediately understood by a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. It needs additional context and clarification, which isn’t a good thing.

  61. Mark

    One more, though this may be too far off
    (since it just says “The Skeps!” – i lost the last three syllables…)


  62. riki

    Looks like I missed the end of the contest, but anyway here’s an animated version http://www.suture.net/files/titles/skeptologists.mov

  63. Kol

    If they can’t work with four syllables, the name itself should remain.

    Please don’t dumb down my kids.

  64. riki

    So what happened? Did they can the competition?


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar