New Logo, Who This?

After 14 years, CXHAIRS has a new logo. Many of you have commented on the change, so I wanted to give a little background on the design and how we got here.

CXHAIRS started as In The Crosshairs in 2008 and focused on post-race interviews with Mid-Atlantic cyclocross racers. In these interviews, I asked local fast people a list of questions aimed at how they were able to reach the podium. The questions covered race tactics, training, equipment, and breakfast menus.

To illustrate how these interviews put people “in the (cyclo)crosshairs,” I created a logo that was an homage to Public Enemy’s iconic branding. In the site’s first decade, the silhouetted CX racer shouldering a bike in the crosshairs of a rifle scope was synonymous with In The Crosshairs, SVENNESS, and everything we did. As the years passed, In The Crosshairs got shortened to CXHAIRS (like cyclo-crosshairs) and the original name faded away. Our club, Crosshairs Cycling is really the only remaining link to the original name.

Over time I became a bit uncomfortable with the significance of the imagery portrayed in the logo. For one, my experience is not the same as the members of Public Enemy, and to use their symbolism for my lighthearted cycling content no longer felt right.

And then, in 2018, a man shot and killed eleven people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. I can’t fully explain why amidst the frequent mass shootings in this country it was that horrific incident that was the catalyst for me to remove the crosshairs from the silhouetted logo. But after that day, I wanted to remove any reference to rifles and shooting and just leave the silhouette. That crosshairs-less iteration of the CXHAIRS logo remained until just this month.

Public Enemy’s logo, the “In The Crosshairs” logo, and the 2018 CXHAIRS logo.

The problem with making the 2018 change was that the CXHAIRS identity was no longer unique. The silhouette of a rider shouldering a bike looked like many other cyclocross logos and graphics. CXHAIRS had lost its identity. For several years, I would play around with different design ideas, but nothing really stuck. I needed professional help.

Enter Rachel and Christian of Goldenrod Studio in New Jersey, who designed the new logo and overhauled the entire CXHAIRS look. The process was a joy, from the initial discussion about what I was looking for to color palettes, mood boards, and final designs.

For the logo itself, Rachel and Christian asked me the obvious question: what was I looking for? They did this knowing it was the absolute hardest question to answer. It’s the question that leads people like me to hire people like them to help figure it out. What I could do, however, was tell them what I didn’t want. That was easy.

For this logo I did not want a rider shouldering a bike. I did not want a rider suitcasing a bike. I did not want to see barriers or planks. I definitely did not want cowbells or beer. There would be no homages to Belgium or The Netherlands. There also would be no mud splatters or tire treads. In a nutshell, if it screamed cyclocross, I didn’t want it. Instead of screaming, I wanted a logo that whispered cyclocross. It should be relatable as a cyclocross logo without having any obvious cyclocross identifiers visible. It was a fairly tall order.

A final form started to take shape through multiple iterations and facetime brainstorm sessions. We finally landed on a logo that went far beyond my initial criteria. On its face, it’s just an excellent design. It’s something that works well in all of the cycling disciplines I cover. It even works outside of cycling.

The new CXHAIRS logo by @goldenrodstudio.nj.

But if you know cyclocross, the new logo is also relatable to what we all have experienced on many courses in our communities and worldwide: the run-up. Now you may look at the design and say, “how do I know it’s a run-up and not a descent?” And that’s where the easter egg for those in the Mid-Atlantic comes into play.

For years in MABRA (Mid-Atlantic Bike Racing Association), we have built our cyclocross courses with red tape on the right side of the course and some different color, usually yellow or white, on the left side of the course. What this does is it allows everyone to know the course direction without having to ask. You always know that the red tape is on the right. So if you’re showing up early in the morning and want to get some laps in and it’s not apparent which way the course runs, red is on your right. Go that way.

And that also is how you know the logo is a run up and not a drop: Red is on the right. But Bill, the red isn’t on the right, it’s on the top! Yes. Yes it is. But if you imagine you’re riding your bike between the yellow and red lines, you would ride towards the left and the red would be on your right. Go that way.

And there you have it. New logo and better times ahead. Now go whisper cyclocross sweet nothings to your cyclocross friends.


8 thoughts on “New Logo, Who This?

  1. Nice work Bill… well said and well read. Nice clean design and chapeau to
    You and your design team .. well done!

  2. Absolutely nailed it. And the timing of the switch couldn’t have been better (but I’m sure it was planned that way 😏)

  3. That’s it! And believe me, if I could go back a decade and change the name to something that was more easily decipherable, I would. But here we are.

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