When Logos Go Bad – Logos That Suck

October 8, 2010 • By

Logos have always been an integral part of a company. In fact, many consumers mistakenly assume that a company’s logo is their brand. Branding is a huge marketing movement right now and the logo is only a fraction of what makes a company’s brand. However, to the ordinary customer a logo speaks volumes. It is a first, and sometimes last, impression. It is the single, mainstream representation of what you do and you will be judged by it. Therefore, it is important to spend time, effort and money to be certain that your logo does not suck. Here are ways to design a sucky logo:


A common mistake in logo design is creating something that looks cheap or unprofessional. If you are using clip art or stock, it will send the message that you are not original or unique. If the images are blurry or distorted because you are using the wrong software or file format, people will be put off by your logo. Once they are put off by your logo, they will judge your company by their first impression. Not all logos designed by amateurs will look poorly done, but it is imperative to show your new logo off and get valuable feedback on its quality before finalizing it.

Mistaken Symbolism

(This symbol could easily be mistaken for a crop circle or alien hieroglyph)

A logo is your company’s first elevator speech. It is the first attempt at marketing. What goes into your logo matters. Sometimes your logo could showcase something inappropriate and you not realize it. It is best to show it around to trusted individuals to see if they get an interpretation you were not expecting. Optical illusions can be tricky and people can see different things. Incorporating people or stick people images? Pay close attention to position and placement to avoid being inappropriate. If people are able to locate something ‘dirty’ or sexual in nature anywhere in your logo if it is not supposed to be there – then you need to go back to the drawing board. The same is true for showing your product in use in your logo. This can backfire when perception and customer impressions get involved.

It is just as important to think about the wording of your logo as there are many phrases or words that could have double meanings. Sausage can be sexual if used in an improper context so unless you own a sausage company it is best to avoid it. Same for names like Johnson, Peter, and John. Be cautious if incorporating words that can be different things.


It is always great to start off with a hand drawn design, but when it is time to go to print the logo needs to look more professional. Hand drawn artwork can be cute and quaint, but a mainstream logo needs to be able to compete and your competition is most likely not using a cute design.


If you are going to use multiple words without proper spacing, you better be certain the words cannot be misinterpreted. A popular example of this is using Kidsexchange instead of Kids Exchange. This method can be used effectively like in Petsmart where either Pet Smart or Pets Mart are both appropriate. Be certain to really pay attention to your wording if you intend to omit spacing.

Being Too Personal

Inside jokes and personality quirks that are unrelated to your business should be left out of your logo. If you are overweight but are running a bakery, your logo does not necessarily need a fat guy or gal in it. Instead of being a nice representation of you as an owner, people will be reminded that if they eat your goods they will gain weight. This is the opposite of what you want to accomplish. If you like to drink a lot and your friends all call you Lush for fun, this does not mean you need to add this charming bit of your personality into your business brand. Your customers do not need to know that much about you in order to spend money on your products or services.


This one can get tricky because no one is an expert in all cultures. However, something that seems perfectly appropriate to you may be majorly offense to another culture. If you have quite a few Indian customers, it is not a good idea to advertise cow slaughter or to even poke fun at cattle. The cow is sacred in India and this will run your Indian customers away. If you want to ensure you do no offend anyone accidently, ask people of various cultures what they think of your logo. You never know when something fairly innocent to you will send another family running in he opposite direction.

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