Meet Fiona - Our New Mascot

Meet Fiona – Our New Mascot

If you’ve been hanging around awhile, you noticed a few things this month that appeared without much fanfare.

  1. I changed the name of the website from Cold Weather Aquaponics to Frosty Fish Aquaponic Systems.
  2. I changed the color scheme and logo. Now we have little Fiona the fish with her ear flap hunting hat and taste for fall leaves.

Screen Print

I’ll tell you a bit more about why the change, but first I want to acknowledge Hannah Sandvold of, my friend and graphics designer who created the logo and graciously put up with my constant and strong opinions on everything. She gets my wholehearted plug as a young (read: affordable) and talented illustrator and graphics designer. I’m thrilled with the thoughtfulness of her work, and thrilled that she did it all for less than the cost of my bicycle.

If you’re into graphics, illustration, or custom-painted shoes, I’d highly recommend a leisurely stroll through her work–it’s a lot of fun.

Now back to the name and logo.


FF_logo_orange2I changed the name because the old name was crap. While it describes what I’m about to a tee, Cold Weather Aquaponics is hard to remember, too long, too generic, and too hard to spell.

Based on the 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding, the purpose of a company name is to give you a visceral image that sticks in your head. Whether you imagine a Wendy’s fish-flavored Frosty, a fish made of ice, or an Arctic Char living in the Hudson Bay, Frosty Fish sort-of stays with you.

It used to be that names which exactly matched search terms on search engines worked the best for online businesses. In those days, if you had a site called you’d come up first when someone searched for “aquaponics systems.” Those days are over, however, at least from what I’ve read. Now it’s increasingly about your content, how users engage with it, and whatever other voodoo magic Google puts in their secret sauce. Since the name doesn’t matter as much for search engine optimization (SEO) it gives creative types the chance to pick out fun names.

Of course, the domain name also has to be available.

OxygenBlueMaybe you saw (or voted in) my poll about names. It was pretty silly, and pretty fun! Here’s a list of the names I considered during the process.

  • FishFoundry (2nd place in voting)
  • PlowFish
  • IceFysh (this was my favorite)
  • IceFishery
  • KoldeFisk
  • Fiskilde
  • SmashFish
  • FishGuild
  • FishFightFarm
  • ArcticAqua
  • SnowFysh
  • FishFray
  • PlowFish
  • PolarPonics
  • FishFrost
  • FreezerFish
  • YooperFish (might have chosen this one if I was from the UP)

… and literally thousands of others. It seriously took a month of debating names with everyone I know till I settled on one. At the end of the day, though, I did actually take the advice of those who voted here and on Facebook, Reddit, and Mechanical Turk. FrostyFish won the day, and I think you made the right choice.


FF_stand-in_red_bgMy philosophy on logo design comes from Laura Ries’ book Visual Hammer. The jist of it is that you have a textual nail that the visual hammer drives in. 

In other words, when one glances at your tagline, they can remember one thing–if you’re lucky. Trying for more than that is too much. In my case, the message is “cold aquaponics” or “cold fish.” I’d love to be able to say all sorts of other things like that aquaponics can save you money, that fish and greens taste better in cold weather, that this is a serious design business with serious engineering behind it. But all of that is too much to say in the 0.4 or so seconds that someone spends looking at your tagline/logo in passing. 

That’s your textual nail – the tagline. Aquaponics for Cold Climates.

The visual hammer’s has two purposes

  1. Get your attention
  2. Drive that nail down and make it stick. 

FF_stand-in_1The first rule of visual hammering is to see what kinds of colors your competitors are using, and choose the opposite. If you don’t stand out and distinguish yourself, you’re invisible. A quick look at google tells us that aquaponics is a sea of blue and green. That makes it easy. All I have to do is choose something other than blue and green.

Trouble is that blue and green are–literally–the colors of aquaponics. Water is blue. Plants are green. Game over.

Even worse, with the word Frosty in my name and cold climates as my focus, it’s hard to communicate cold without using blue. 


I’m blue and green. I look pretty cool though.

If no other aquaponics business ever existed, the logo shown here is the perfect logo – it’s catchy, memorable, and clearly communicates “cold aquaponics.” But it’s blue and green. 

That led to a truly unreasonable amount of brainstorming time. I wanted to find a way to communicate my message – “cold aquaponics” without using either blue or green–preferably only using one color so that I can become associated with that color in the aquaponics world. 

FF_betacon_2I worked through dozens of ideas like thermometers, sweaters, snow, mountains, mooses, the Green Bay Packers, etc… Until finally I happened to see a floppy ear-hat on a rack at a store in Asheville, NC. I’d been thinking about it for weeks, and lightning struck! It was a real stroke of luck, too, because floppy ear hats (ear flap hunting hat) usually come in blaze orange for hunters. It’s also associated with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Fall–all of which signify the coming of winter. Also, nobody else ever thought to put one on a fish – at least nobody on the internet.

Hannah drew it up, and then we hesitated. Maybe the orange was too different… Everyone seemed to like the blue and green option we drew up, and they were so… Frosty. In the end, I decided to trust the marketing theory and made orange my color. It’s also Sara’s favorite color, so that doesn’t hurt.

FF_logo_white_squareSo, anyhow, now you all know that I spent my summer with hundreds of silly names and dozens of silly little sketches floating around in my head. And now we have Fiona, the little fish in her floppy ear hat.