Bad Logos and their unintended consequences

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Bad Logos come in all shapes and sizes. Some are naturally better than others, some have unintended consequences and can be considered as bad logos. Designing logos is a long process where numerous designs are made thought through and remade, making a fine finished product. Sometimes these logos can convey a different message than the intention.

Most of us have seen a bad logo that may have had representations other than what was intended. Sometimes these work well, sometimes not. The intention and implementation can be different from time to time. A picture of a flame may inadvertently produce the image of a skull, or a slogan could have a double meaning. A good example of this would be “Steel Erections, We’ll Get You Up”. Another example is the London 2010 disaster logo.

While this may be humorous, because it is a contracting group, it could turn off prospective clients. Others on the other hand might find enough humor in the name and slogan to give the company a chance. This can be used in web design differently, as web sites can target an audience more specifically than brick and mortar establishments.

Websites with double meaning should be noted quickly and the name should be used strategically or not at all. Use everything possible in design to make the appearance of intention. The appearance of intention gives the website a more cohesive feel, and small jokes can be used, rather than dismissed by an audience as mistakes.

In bad logos however, if a second meaning can be found in the logo, be sure it conveys the same message as the original logo. When someone sees a bad logo, and a joke can be made about it, the joke will almost certainly spread across the internet. Being the brunt of a joke can garnish an amount of public relations but does not necessarily turn into revenue.

A few examples of poor logo decisions can be seen in any town or city and are usually a result of plagiarised logos. These are bad logos which are vague about the business, with a slogan that may or may not clarify the logo. If you cannot describe either the name or the business type from the logo, it is most likely not doing the job it was intended for. A few common mistakes can be trying for too much detail, making the logo’s intention unclear. Another major pitfall is too much color. It is suggested to stay with no more than 3 or 4 strong colors, being sure they do not blend together. Each portion should be distinct, remember this is part of an entire business image.

While a logo may be memorable, it may not be good. A logo is intended to give a feel and face to a company for people who are otherwise unfamiliar with it. A frog drinking a beer would be memorable, but if it did not enhance the Budweiser image which had been worked on for over a century, it would have failed in some instances. They set up the Budweiser frogs saying “Bud” “Wei” “Err…” which set up further use of the frogs as a logo, in addition to the Budweiser logo.

The point of this post in a nutshell is to get web and logo designers to think about logos from a consumer’s prospective. This should help when making decisions on bad logos as well as give a strong perspective for other kinds of marketing.