10 of the Ugliest Logos in the World

10 of the Ugliest Logos in the World

I’ve had a number of readers chastise me recently for not using the “official” WordPress logo. And I get that. Logos matter to people. Design matters. Not only does it make the user’s experience better (if it’s good), it helps increase trust.

But I often don’t use the official logo because I don’t like the WordPess color scheme much. I’m not crazy about the blue or the orange they use, and I pretty much flat out hate the brownish-gray they like to stick everywhere.

Remember this?

On top of that, although there’s a lot to love about WordPress, they have had a track record of some flat out ugly designs in their Admin areas over the years, and so I’ve learned not to bow to Automattic when it comes to design. (I will say that the overall design has improved over the years, and even dramatically of late, in my opinion.)

And so I don’t hate the WordPress logo. In fact, I even like it in many cases, especially when different people get their hands on it and cook up something creative.

Ugly as Inspiration

But the impetus for this post was not really WordPress. It was something that happened recently with a baseball team. The Florida Marlins recently changed their name to the Miami Marlins, got a new stadium, and changed their team’s logo.

The first two are likely to be positive moves. The changing of the logo, however, is already proving to be a disaster. The new logo looks as if a box of crayons went out for a night of heavy drinking and then tossed its cookies all over the bathroom floor.

Here are a few reviews I snagged from the web:

  • worst ever
  • hideous
  • awful
  • atrocious
  • absurd
  • LMAO
  • seriously?
  • ewwwwwww

What is Art?

Art is a matter of taste. I get that. But when the taste is the flavor of vomit, somebody has to stand up and say something. And so in this post I’ve found what I consider to be perhaps ten of the ugliest logos going.

I’ve taken it easy on small businesses here. In any case, there are too many of them to begin going down that road. Arm a small business owner with some free clipart, sixty minutes, and a few grand ideas; and it’s likely to get pretty ugly. Literally.

So, in no particular order, here they are.

1. Miami Marlins

New logo first. Old logo afterward.

New:

Miami Marlins

Old:

Florida Marlins

2. Starbucks

Not a fan of the new logo (though I imagine I’ll get used to it). Not a fan of their first logo either. Or the second one now that I think about it.


 

3. Waffle House

The good: Hard to miss when you’re driving down the road.
The bad: Hard to miss when you’re driving down the road.


4. Animal Planet

Not sure how an “M” lying on its side is supposed to represent animals.


 

5. Gap

In 2010, Gap clothing stores made a switch to a new logo, only to reverse the decision a week later after a public outcry.


 

 6. Nvidia

What is it? A fish? A dysfunctional “e”? Someone’s eye in the middle of an acid trip?


 

7. Google

We’re used to it, yes. But let’s face it, it’s not pretty.


 

 8. Wired

Not necessarily horrible, just ugly. Here’s a story behind it with lots of explanations and math trying very hard to justify it. A reason, unfortunately, isn’t necessarily a legitimate excuse.


9. TechCrunch

Again, lots of explanation sounding suspiciously like justification (and, again, failing). The title of the linked to post is Redesigning TechCrunch: We Picked This Logo Just to Piss You Off. When you make a mistake, get obnoxious. That’s what I always say.


10. London Olympics 2012

The Olympics deserves a category all its own when it comes to bad logos. There always seem to be too many colors going in too many directions, an abundance of trying very hard to be the deep thought of every beauty queen’s  perfect answer, and a lot of awkward abstraction that needs to be either more abstract or less abstract.

It gets worse …

 

Thanks to EMMEALCUBO for the image.

25 Responses

    سرمد ہاشمی

    I love the analysis…
    However, Nvidia’s logo is pretty cool! I like the way they showed the eye and the use of negative space is making the whole logo pretty balanced. And even if they remove the “nvidia” from the logo, I am pretty sure people would recognize it.

    I too love middle logo of starbucks. its cool and its give a person more coffee kind of feeling.

    I love what happened to GAP. haha! They totally effed it up.

    other logos, never mind, they do suck! Animal Plante, I cant even see any animal or something in it.

    They need a remake for sure.

    putting everything in a nutshell, a really nice article. ;) I like the way you commented on logos.

    defries

    On top of that, although there’s a lot to love about WordPress, they have had a track record of some flat out ugly designs in their Admin areas over the years, and so I’ve learned not to bow to Automattic when it comes to design. (I will say that the overall design has improved over the years, and even dramatically of late, in my opinion.)

    You are aware, I HOPE, that WordPress != Automattic, right? I’m assuming that is just an unfortunate mistake on your part. Something you neglected to notice while being busy contributing to WordPress. Right?

    Joe

    @Gary – Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t know how far Automattic’s tentacles reached into .org. I know they owned the WP trademark until recently, for example. And the fact that there’s some overlap with .org (like Akismet being included in the default install) makes it hard to see where the lines are.

    Sam

    I would suggest that when you diss logos, that you do it with concrete reasons why. Personal taste is not a very good measurement system to juge visual design. In design there are principles and rules with which a peace of design can be evaluated and juged.
    So, my suggestion is that you use these concrete reasons to argument in favor of your jugement. An article like this doesn’t help anyone make better design decisions and it cerainly doesn’t help your credibility. After all, why should I consider your personal taste?

      Joe

      @Sam I’m afraid that in the end, it is a matter of taste, no matter who is doing the judging. I am well aware of certain “principles” used for evaluation in all sorts of art forms. I have studied some of them for years (not graphic art, however). That doesn’t, in the end, bring any two parties closer together in agreeing whether or not the thing being evaluated is “good” or not, whether it is “art” or not. You may be able to agree that it is relying heavily on a certain technique or adhering to a certain principle or it has these or those qualities, but none of those things, in the end, can truly account for the experience in the viewer/listener/reader/watcher. Art is designed to be interacted with, and it is only the experience of that personal interaction that matters — again, because that’s what it is designed for.

      I have put this post out there simply as an opinion and possibly a discussion starter. I could have loaded the article up with all sorts of qualifiers, but I chose not to. That, itself, is a technique. It was designed to prompt responses.

      I was never under any impression that my tastes held more value or were more “credible” than anyone else’s. But then again, I was never under the impression that anyone else’s were more valuable than mine. I know that may sound ignorant to some, but so be it. I probably would have thought so myself some years ago. But I’ve moved past that. I was taught to be a snob in my chosen field. I learned how to do that fairly well. And then I moved past it. It’s a path some need to take, it seems. I guess I did.

      Why should you consider my personal taste? Well, you shouldn’t, necessarily—unless you want to. But then again, you shouldn’t consider anyone else’s either, regardless of their qualifications. If you want to experience art as it’s supposed to be experienced, you can’t think your way to it. Art is about aesthetics (which comes from a Greek word, that if traced back several steps, comes from the word aisthanomai, meaning to sense/feel). That’s what makes art art. It is meant to be something you sense.

      Case in point – the Wired logo above. I linked to a somewhat in-depth explanation about how the logo follows the principle of kerning. Well, great. But does that make me like the logo any better? No. Might it for some? Sure. So what to do? Well, maybe Wired could make you read about kerning and how the human eye automatically measures optical areas, etc. before it lets you look at the logo. That way you might appreciate it.

      All that said, you can certainly learn to be conscious of certain qualities or principles of an artistic work, and that may help you to enjoy the piece in different ways and perhaps consider and enjoy pieces that you may not have otherwise, but I would contend that this “learned appreciation” is not really learned; it is simply a more acutely articulated manifestation of what you already felt subconsciously. And that may be something very valuable for an artist studying the craft (or for those who want to appreciate it on those levels); however, really, that is pretty inside baseball stuff. This site is not a graphic art site. We deal with some design, and will probably be dealing with more of it in the future, but this post was never intended to be a critical dissection of the graphical principles at work (or not at work, as the case may be).

      James Joyce, while developing his own theories on art (proper and improper), famously quoted Thomas Aquinas’ qualities necessary for beauty: integritas, proportio, and claritas; or “wholeness, harmony and radiance,” as Joyce translated them.

      Perhaps the first two (wholeness and harmony) could be more or less agreed upon relatively objectively by different people. The last, however, “radiance” (claritas), is where the true magic happens or not. The word “claritas” comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “kelə,” meaning “to call” (i.e. does it call to you?) Therefore, “radiance” (claritas) is not meant to describe a quality or amount of light, obviously. It’s meant to describe a sense of resonance within the viewer/listener/reader/watcher that goes beyond the explainable.

      I’ve met and known a fair number of well-known writers in my life. And I remember talking to a celebrated poet once. We were talking about writing, and he said, “Writing a bad poem feels exactly like writing a good poem.” So, in other words, you can know all the tricks, all the techniques, all the principles, but following them, in the end, doesn’t guarantee success, and at times it may even inhibit it. Artistic success is a mystery, to a large degree. Picasso didn’t paint by numbers for a reason.

      So, anyway, the long and short of it is I would take exception to your statement that “personal taste is not a very good measurement system to judge visual design.” For my money, ultimately, personal taste is the only thing that truly matters. A piece of art either fails or succeeds, in the end, to the degree that it successfully “calls” to the viewer. The fact that it can seemingly call to you but not to me, or vice versa, is simply the way it is. If it weren’t a mystery, it could be bottled and sold.

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