Design Clients On Famous Logotypes

For this article, I took a sample of corporate and small business design clients, erased their memories (with a "mind rubber"), then asked them to critique a small selection of highly prolific and famous commercial logotypes.

To them, this would be the first time they had seen and experienced these brands. Unaware of the massive successes of the companies behind the logos, would this unusual focus group find intrinsic merit in the designs, or would the benefit of unfamiliarity help to disclose failings? Let's see what they have to say.


Nike logo

CLIENT 1: What is this? Nikey? Nicky? CLIENT 2: I think it's confusing. People won't know how to say it. CLIENT 3: It's "Nike", like the goddess, I guess. CLIENT 2: The goddess? Does anyone actually know who she is? CLIENT 1: That's too gender specific. CLIENT 2: What about the underline? CLIENT 3: The underline? CLIENT 1: It's sort of a "flash", isn't it? CLIENT 2: It's a tick, maybe. Needs to be further away from the text. CLIENT 1: Yes, it's all a bit squashed up. CLIENT 3: Ticks have a pointy shoulder. It's more of a hockey stick. CLIENT 2: Nobody plays hockey. CLIENT 4: I think it looks like a sperm.


Apple logo

CLIENT 1: So, it's an apple. CLIENT 2: Apples should be green. CLIENT 1: Or red. Why's it white? CLIENT 3: It's not joined up. CLIENT 2: What? CLIENT 3: It's not joined up. The leaf part doesn't connect to the fruit part. CLIENT 1: That's an oversight. CLIENT 2: Someone's taken a bite. That's not good. CLIENT 3: Yes, I wouldn't buy a half eaten apple. CLIENT 1: I prefer oranges. CLIENT 4: It looks like a puddle of sperm.


Coca-cola logo

CLIENT 1: Coca... coola? CLIENT 3: Isn't that a hotel in Rio de Janeiro? CLIENT 2: The first 'o' in "coola" is too high up. CLIENT 1: It's too squiggly. Shouldn't it be in a simpler font? CLIENT 2: There's at least 50% too many 'c's. And 'o's. CLIENT 1: And 'a's. CLIENT 3: White on red is a bit "on the nose", isn't it? CLIENT 1: Yeah, that's been done. CLIENT 4: The curly bit on the "C" looks like it's having intercourse with the loop in the "L". I'm not happy with that. CLIENT 2: Yes, and what's up with the hyphen?


KFC logo

CLIENT 1: He's old. CLIENT 2: Too old, probably. CLIENT 3: He needs to be straighter. CLIENT 2: Straighter? He's too… gay? CLIENT 3: No, no, of course not. Straighter: He's leaning to the left. He looks drunk. CLIENT 1: His right. He's leaning to his right. CLIENT 2: Yes, that's more correct. CLIENT 3: What's wrong with his chin? CLIENT 2: It's a beard. He's got a beard. CLIENT 3: It's the same colour as his face. It looks like a growth. CLIENT 4: He looks like he could be dangerous to children.


Starbucks logo

CLIENT 1: Starbuck, like out of Battlestar Galactica? CLIENT 2: That was a good show. CLIENT 1: Who played him again? Was it Burt Reynolds? CLIENT 3: Dirk Benedict. CLIENT 2: I don't like the green. Can you get green coffee? CLIENT 3: Pistachio is green. Is that a coffee? CLIENT 2: Green means "sick". I don't want coffee that makes me sick. CLIENT 1: It's generally too round. Looks too military, like a medal. CLIENT 4: THAT MERMAID IS NAKED!


Oh dear. Coca-cola, Nike, Starbucks, KFC and Apple: Your logotypes are rife with stylistic mistakes, thematic inconsistencies, clich├ęs and negative connotations. Back to the drawing board with the lot of you!

Joking aside, it's really hard to make "good" logos and even harder to judge them. What is there to go on? One can militate against negative connotations, but only if they are willing to embrace something insipid. One can be exacting with their logos form, but at the risk of creating something regimented and lacking in personality. Some claim eBay made this mistake with their "cleaner, contemporary" looking new logo. It looks less daft, but we like daft.

Ultimately, designers and design clients alike worry too much about the design of their logos and too much time is spent trying to find a "correct" solution among a plethora of contrary, subjective observations. We forget that it isn't the logo which sells the product anyway. How can just a word or a little scribble make the necessary pitch?

Most logos are simply identifiers. The only logos that are really able to "work harder" and "create a buzz" for a product all by themselves are the ugly ones. Nobody gossips about good taste. So, my advice on creating your next logo is to make it as poor as possible.