Urban Outfitters’ New Logo: Prank or Really Bad Decision?

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Can bad logo design actually help a company? In general, no. However, if you are a large, well known corporation with a substantial following, a logo that brings bad press may give you at least a temporary boost in publicity. We all saw the Gap logo, which few people talked about in the past, get a huge amount of negative press about a month ago when it was changed for a few days to a new and inferior design. We wonder if perhaps some of the Gap’s competitors weren’t jealous of all the attention.

This week, Urban Outfitters unveiled a new logo that a company known as Horrible Logos is claiming to have created for beer money—a princely sum of $5. Considering that Urban Outfitters has carefully crafted a hip, counterculture brand, this is actually believable. However, upon looking at the logo, it appears that they may not have gotten their five dollars’ worth.

The logo, simply, is the name of the store written in a simple, sans serif font. This in itself is not offensive. In fact, when combined with the fresh, youthful orange color, it hints at a young and counter-culture brand that is building a brand on not having a brand—a surprisingly common strategy. However, while the first word is written in a straight orientation, the second one is forced into an arc, which is not only unattractive, but results in the top part of the arc being cut off.

What can we say about this logo? It simply does not appear to be a professional logo design. Is this logo a desperate cry for attention in response to the Gap debacle? Is it a humorous way of bringing attention to the company’s purposefully ‘down market’ thrift store feel? Or is it indeed a rebranding move in a more ironic and alternative direction? Whatever it is, we think Urban Outfitters should ask for their money back!

Horrible Logos indeed offers a guarantee, albeit not the type offered by most logo design companies. Instead of guaranteed satisfaction, this logo design company promises ‘a logo guaranteed to suck’. This may be about all the graphic design you can get for five dollars (or ten, depending on the logo design package that you choose). The proprietor claims to be designing logo designs for beer money and to have been in business since 2010—that’s right: this year.

The moral of this story is that you get what you pay for. Whether this is a hoax or a joke, we doubt that this eyebrow raising identity will stick. There is a good chance Urban Outfitters is waiting for an outcry and has a fresh identity ready in the wings. A logo that does not fit your company or even fit in the space allotted is not a good choice for a brand, and not a good deal even at the lowest price.