4 Hideous Logos and How I’d Redesign Them
Here are 4 organizations that have risen to national recognition and achieved success despite their ugly logos. I’m not just going to pick on them – I’m going to offer my own suggestions as a designer, and how I would personally go about refreshing their branding, and why.
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Before we get started, let’s first take a look at what makes an effective logo design…
1.) Simple – Simplicity offers versatility, which means the logo can translate nicely not just on a screen, but in print, on a black and white fax, embroidery, in monotone, etc.
2.) Relevant – Simply put, a good logo communicates your mission to your target audience.
3.) Conceptual; not literal – A logo should suggest something, not literally depict it. A good example would be Nike’s logo. Nike wouldn’t put a logo of a shoe on a shoe. That would be redundant and literal. Instead, they use an abstract symbol that suggests movement, relative to athletics.
4.) Scalable – This is an important aspect that a lot of designers overlook. A logo must be legible and recognizable when scaled to very small sizes, whether it be for profile pictures, favicons, listings, etc. If your logo disappears when you scale it down, it’s time to rebuild.
5.) Distinct – A good logo is unique and isn’t easily confused with other logos. This is why I don’t like the Pinterest logo. Is that Pinterest, or is it the Philadelphia Phillies? A distinct logo also ties into the branding and doesn’t look like it could’ve been purchased from a stock library.
6.) Timeless – A good logo avoids trends and stands the test of time. If you designed a trendy logo back in 2002, when web 2.0 was all the rage, today your logo would look like a 3D button with gradients and a glossy sheen. It would look foolish. Today’s current trend is flat design. Don’t drink that Koolaid. Your flat style logo looks cool today, but 10 years from now it’s going to look as stupid as mullets and frosted tips.
With that being said, let’s get started…
1. Planet Fitness
This logo violates several of the aforementioned principles. It’s not simple, it’s not versatile, it’s not conceptual and it’s not scalable. Most importantly, it looks terrible. It looks like something a high school student learning Photoshop for the first time would come up with.
There’s no way this logo was professionally designed. No designer in their right mind would’ve used that very low-res and grainy raster image of a thumb FOR A LOGO, of all things.
Planet Fitness is better than this. They’re a national brand that forever changed the fitness industry. Before Planet Fitness came around with their $10 memberships, you couldn’t find a gym membership anywhere for less than $50 a month. Everyone else was forced to lower their rates in order to stay relevant and compete. My gym membership is now a fraction of what it once was, and I thank Planet Fitness for that.
Here’s what I would do…
As you can see, I’m sticking with the original idea, in concept, so as to not create any kind of brand confusion. I ditched the yellow color, got rid of the thumbs up, used a font style that I think better communicates physical activity, and gave the entire logo a slight slant to the right to further communicate that.
This revamped design offers simplicity, versatility, and timelessness, all without making any kind of drastic changes to their branding.
2. Dollar General
This design is poor in both concept and execution. The shade of yellow used is drab (almost depressing,) and I really don’t get the gray stroke around the odd shape that also doesn’t make any sense.
My main issue with this logo is the lack of relevance. What are you trying to communicate to me with this logo? That yellow shape serves no purpose and does nothing to offer relevance. It almost seems like the person creating it recently figured out how to make warped rectangles and was excited about it, so they used it for the sake of using it.
Here’s how I would improve it…
I stuck with yellow, because it reminds you of a sale tag, or something inexpensive, which makes sense for a dollar store. I used a more vibrant and exciting shade, though. In logo design, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
I also used a casual and friendly font, much like the original logo did, but a nicer choice.
Finally, the shape encasing the logo suggests a sale tag, but in a conceptual (not literal) way. The logo now has relevance and communicates something.
Overall, I think this new concept looks more modern, professional and welcoming.
3.) Cleveland Browns
Using clip art of a football helmet as the logo of a football team is possibly the most offensive violation of design principles I’ve ever seen, and to think that this represents a nationally-recognized football team makes me cringe. What’s more, this logo was created recently, for the 2015 season. I guess when you make poor choices in putting a team together, it makes sense that you’d make poor choices when selecting designs and designers as well.
Redesigning a sports franchise logo is always risky and challenging, seeing as how sports fans are passionately obsessive about their teams and have a tendency to immediately rebel against any kind of change. Change isn’t always bad though, and I’m going to take a shot at it anyway.
I stuck with the color scheme as I feel it’s the most crucial aspect of their branding. I used a similar sporty font, but shaped in such a way that pays homage to the Detroit-Superior Bridge – an iconic part of the Cleveland skyline.
This new logo offers relevance in regards to the city of Cleveland, and in a conceptual way.
4.) Edible Arrangements
I don’t know the story behind this catastrophe, but I’m guessing the company’s founder handed their son or daughter a blank sheet of paper and some magic markers and let them come up with something. After that, they scanned the sheet (literally, it appears) into MS Paint and put some wording alongside it, using PAPYRUS of all fonts.
I almost felt a little hesitant about bashing this logo, because I feel like I’d be insulting someone’s kid.
Here’s my take for a refreshed concept…
I like the concept of a whimsical, hand-drawn icon, but it had to be executed better. That’s what I aimed to do. I did so also because I think it’s so important to not stray too far from the original concept when redesigning a logo, because you don’t want to confuse people.
I also used a more vibrant and less standard color palette. Receiving a bouqet of exotic, colorful fruits, creatively arranged and prepared is a vibrant and one-of-a-kind experience, and by no means standard. Therefore, the colors should be vibrant and not standard.
Finally, the font chosen is reflective of a fine, hand-crafted product, which an Edible Arrangement is. I think it’s a nice upgrade, which wasn’t difficult considering how low the bar was previously set.
Your input is desired
I am, by no means, perfect. I am not the world’s greatest designer, nor are my opinions and tastes always appropriate and suitable for a particular project. I’m more than willing to put myself and my work out there and open it up to criticism though, so I would be more than happy to hear some critiques of the designs I’ve proposed, the same way I critiqued the brands themselves.
Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section. I encourage criticism because it opens up dialogue and gives me new insights.
If you’re a designer and you have some examples of popular logos you dislike, and would like to send me your interpretations for how you would redesign them, I’d be glad to post them here on my blog, give you credit and a link back to your site. Just get in touch!
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Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.All stories by: Nick