Logos are very powerful. Companies can spend millions of pounds, dollars, or euros on a design that represents them around the world. Companies can also get a five year old child from the Chief Executive to scribble on a piece of paper, and then scan that into Photoshop and send it around the world.
When looking at examples of bad design logos, the designer had something in mind, but in the wider context, maybe they were overlooking a feature of the logo that could be misconstrued.
London 2012 Olympics
The London 2012 Olympic design was the symbol for the games awarded to London in July 2005. Two years later, this design was unveiled to a waiting media, and was immediately critizised for it’s design, colour, and potential to misconstrue it’s meaning.
The logo is made up of the numbers 2012, the location (London), and the five Olympic rings, and was available in a variety of colours, two of which are shown above.
When introduced to the press, The Guardian were very dismissive of it and the £400,000 bill. The BBC reported on the logo with a little more corporate reserve, but reading between the lines, there was some sceptism.
So with some people seeing a Broken Swastika, some Iranians accusing the organisers of spelling the word “Zion”, with Zion being a biblical reference to Jerusalem, and finally some seeing an image of Lisa Simpson doing something wholly un-family friendly, it’s surprising that the logo kept it’s power right up to the Olympics and beyond.
Locum is a Swedish property management company which is owned by Stockholm County Council. The left logo was published in newspapers across Sweden over Christmas, but some people saw a slightly different meaning to the logo when the O was removed and replaced with a heart.
Is this a bad design? Well, people were certainly talking about Locum AB, further afield than just the native country of Sweden, so in terms of social media visibility it was massively increased, but just not necessarily for those looking for property in Stockholm or Gothenburg.
Whether it was a clever marketing ploy by the company, or purely an oversight, some people were bemused, and/or offended by it.
Kids Exchange have a colourful logo with an informal font to represent that their target demographic is Children and Parents. Colours and bright neon lights attract younger eyes as children look all around them when they are growing up.
What the company didn’t expect was that there would be problems with the kerning of the letters, which can give a whole set of new meanings to their logo.
Some people see the phrase “Kid Sex Change”, some see “Kids Exchange”, but even the latter can have a whole new meaning. Will some people walk in trying to upgrade their children?
In terms of this logo, the design is poor due to the spacing, but I question the name of the company too. It is a company who buy and sell equipment that is useful in raising children, such as stair gates, pushchairs, and high chairs, as well as second hand clothing. So a new name and a new logo, might be the best way to improve the image of the company.
Megaflicks is a video rental store in New Port Richey, Florida, which decided to use a Sans Serif font in white, with a green background.
As with the Kids Exchange logo, there is an issue with the kerning of the font, with Megaflicks spelling something else if you glance at it quickly.
The font is a bold one, and would work except for the unfortunate location of the L and the I next to each other.
A-Style’s logo, incorporating a Capital A, and two circles. The logo, which is for an Italian fashion house, uses the colours and font from pictographic warning signs. Some might say that this is a bad logo as there is a potential hidden meaning, but the consensus says that it was actually a very clever piece of marketing by a “hip and trendy” company, who were playing on the double meaning.
OGC – Office of Government Commerce
The logo for the Office for Government Commerce was introduced in 2008, at a cost of £14,000. The Sans Serif font, represents joined up thinking and was intended to signify a bold commitment to the body’s aim of “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”
What the OGC didn’t realise that there was a sexual connotation to the logo if it was rotated 90 degrees as shown above. Not bad for an organisation that a spokesman said were “looking to have a firm grip on Government spend.”
With all these examples (and there are a lot more bad designs out there), I hope that my logo will not feature in the bad list. Mine will promote clarity and function, and I will ensure that I have checked how they look upside down, vertically and back to front!