Yes, we know it’s only April, but it’s never too early to recap the worst logos of the year so far, right? After all, every time we stop to analyze failed designs and where they went wrong, it’s a chance for designers to avoid similar mistakes in the months to come.
While we’re only four months into the year, there are already contenders for the worst logo of 2022. In most cases, the designs didn’t work out because they broke some of the basic rules of the logo design (keep it simple, anyone?). Sometimes they followed the rules, but the designers should have asked for a second opinion (or more second opinions).
A logo is perhaps the most important part of the branding process, so we can’t stress enough the importance of getting it right. It is what people see and remember first, becoming the main identifier of a brand. Take a look at our selection of the best logos of all time to see just how successful the results can be. In the meantime, these are our contenders for the worst logos of the year so far.
The Barnstaple logo
One of the golden rules of designing a logo is to make it easy to remember. This normally means keeping things simple. The less complex the design, the easier it will be for people to remember it and remember the brand accordingly. So what’s going on in this logo for the town of Barnstaple in Devon?
Confusing to say the least, the messy design is almost impossible to interpret with its seemingly random multicolored lines. Turns out there’s a clue in the accompanying tagline: “Streets Ahead.” Ah, that’s a map of downtown Barnstaple. But of course!
We always say that a logo design should be appropriate for its audience and use, and it’s possible that for the good folks at Barnstaple this hodgepodge of colorful sticks will be recognizable and meaningful. That’s not to say they were impressed though, “A lot of cr*p. A two year old could have done it for a free Farley’s Rusk,” one person commented on Facebook. On the other hand, if you’re lost in the center of Barnstaple and Google Maps is flashing, look for the town logo and you might be able to find your way.
The official county seal of St Francis County, Missouri
City and county authorities turn out to be responsible for many of the worst logo designs. I have sympathy for them. It’s hard to please your own residents and come up with a design that successfully represents a place on a larger level. It can be tempting to go for something abstract that only a local can understand, but another danger is throwing away all the icons ever associated with the jurisdiction and then some. And that’s exactly what St. Francis County in Missouri did with this chaotic case.
There is a lot to be said for coats of arms and city flags that combine symbols with historical meanings. The official seal of St Francis County includes elements common to many US government seals. There’s an eagle (at a rather odd angle) a waving American flag, a cross, and a Bible. There is also a shovel and a pickaxe. Oh, and a map, include that too! The whole thing is exacerbated by a somewhat childish font. The guilty? The Chief Commissioner of St. Francis County himself. Harold Gallaher decided the county seal needed an update, so he undertook the task using “simple software”.
The seal has actually looked like this since 2018, but it wasn’t picked up by Reddit until earlier this year, and the resulting derision of the logo’s clip-art feel led St Francis to launch a competition for the rethink. Requirements ? Well, Gallaher, who admitted that “a 5-year-old with a high fever could do a better job,” says he wants him to include the color red and “a symbol about parks,” because the county is known for its park area. “I wish it was better than the seal we have now, which would be a slam dunk,” he added.
Australian Government Women’s Network Logo
The last thing you want a women’s network logo to look like is a… well, you can probably see it in the picture. But it appears no one within the Australian Government’s Women’s Network has seen it. We’ve come across many accidentally crude logos in our time, and this is perhaps one of the most embarrassing given the context.
The logo features a curly “w” and a round line that together look a lot like a youthful sketch of a penis. The purple color is even reminiscent of the eggplant emoji. The Twitterverse was quick to express its astonishment. “I thought it was satire, but it’s either thoughtless or an insult,” one user tweeted, while Older Women’s Network’s Yumi Lee was upset at “how little they thought about women.” .
Some have even alleged that the resemblance was intentional. A creator wrote on Twitter, “Looking at this logo as a designer, I can tell you that the designer knew EXACTLY what he was doing, from the font choice to the layout to the color. That’s not a mistake. It stinks of the malevolence of the teenage mentality.” Meanwhile, another body also called the Women’s Network was so dismayed that it released a statement to clarify that it had nothing to do with the case.
Please note that Women’s Network Australia has been in existence for over 30 years. This is our business logo. We are in no way affiliated or associated with any other #womensnetwork organization and logo, the design of which has been widely commented upon. pic.twitter.com/6lx2EBxGRLMarch 14, 2022
Looking at the logo alone, it’s almost impossible to figure out what the designer intended. It only starts to make vague sense when you see the whole suite of existing logos for other departments (right click in the image above). The logo was designed to fit in with the family, but should never have happened. The Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet Department appears to agree and have since withdrawn it. In a statement in March, he explained, “The rebranding was completed internally, using existing resources, and the designs were widely consulted. No external vendors were engaged for this work. The logo was been removed from the department’s website, pending staff consultation.” The lesson here? Always ask for a second (and third) opinion.
The new Buick logo
Ok, I’m not saying this leaked Buick logo redesign is as terrible as the logos above. It ticks some of the right boxes in that it’s pretty clear, simple, versatile – memorable even. But still, I – and the internet in general, it seems – find it quite confusing. Instead of being diagonal, the three shields are laid out horizontally and, at least for now, it appears to be monochromatic, removing the red, white and blue hues. It’s clear Buick wanted to follow the recent trend of flattening and simplifying logos – something we’ve particularly seen in car logos. It can be a good decision. Simplicity can create a more memorable logo, and it can also make the design more flexible, serving different mediums.
The problem is that in this case, you can clearly see what the traditional Buick logo shows: three crests (apparently based on the ancestral Buick family coat of arms). The new minimal design seems meant to represent something other than abstract shapes, but it’s unclear what. Vampire teeth? A beard trimmer? Balls ? Claws? Internet is not secure. “Call me when Buick changes its name to Wolverine or All Day Nail Spa,” one person tweeted. “Judging by the Twitter response, this looks more like a Rorschach test than a car brand logo,” one car fan joked. It’s unclear how — or if — Buick will actually use the logo. Although General Motors has trademarked the trademark, we haven’t seen it in use yet, so maybe they had their doubts.
And the worst logo of 2021?
A definite contender for last year’s worst logo was another unfortunate example of a design that looks like something else. The Calendar and Scheduling Tool Calendly’s old logo was simple, even eye-catching: a “C” in the center of a calendar page, clearly related to what the brand does. But the new design shocked us, and not in a good way. It shows a rounded hexagon inside a hollow letter ‘C’… or rather it shows a bird’s eye view of a toilet seat.
Even without the unfortunate likeness, the logo is rather loaded and looks like it was drawn by a child – or as if it could have been another case of a brand jumping on the intentionally bad trend of the last year logo. Many of the worst logos we’ve seen were designed by amateurs with no design knowledge or experience, but this time it was the work of the usually flawless Pentagram. The studio says the logo was designed to be “engaging, expressive, and versatile” and to reflect the platform’s “smart design, enhanced workflows, and incredible ease of use.” Hmm, if you say so.
It’s not all bad design in 2022 though; we saw a lot of new logos which we liked, including the new Baskin-Robins logo and the new Wrigleys logo. What do you need to design a good logo? Lots of software is available these days – we have guides to the best logo maker tools and even the best free logo maker. But at the end of the day, there’s no comparison to professional software (and hiring a professional designer!). Check out the current best prices on Adobe’s Creative Cloud packages below if you need to gear up.