Famous Logos Gone Wrong
5 Bad Logo Redesigns
Rebranding helps companies stay fresh and relevant, but not every logo redesign is an upgrade. Sometimes, it’s a major design downgrade. Rarely do famous brands miss the mark, but when they do, it’s horrific. Small business can easily sweep their bad logo redesigns under the rug, but giant corporations face the scrutiny of thousands, if not millions of consumers. The bigger the brand, the harder they fall.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to recognize bad logo redesigns when you see them. There are just some things that are unpleasing to the eye. We’re talking about terrible typography, ugly imagery, and hideous color schemes. The list of potential design fails is endless, but these are the ones that genuinely should have never happened.
Current Logo: 2013
Bacardi’s latest branding is very confusing. There are a lot of mismatched pieces happening throughout their marketing materials. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad logo redesign, it’s a misguided one. We appreciate the new take on the 1862 emblem, but it looks distinctly Victorian compared to their current packaging.
The bat resembles an 1800’s anatomy illustration, which gives off a very masculine, gothic speakeasy feel. But the logo’s bold font has a playful vibe and looks like something you’d see on vacation. And then you add the tropical colors of their advertisements into the mix. The big picture doesn’t make sense. Is “Beach Goth” a look? Probably not. Overall, the two elements of the logo feel very separate and feel very polarizing when paired with their other graphic assets.
Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Current Logo: 2011
This one will be controversial, but before the Disney fans start an uproar, we’d like you to hear us out. We’re Disney fans too, and that’s what makes this so tricky. In 2011, Walt Disney Pictures dropped their creator’s first name and became “Disney.” That just doesn’t sit well with us.
Removing Walt’s name doesn’t feel right, and it just doesn’t look right either. Maybe this is a judgment based on nostalgia, but the new logo seems less magical. “Walt Disney” reminds us of the golden age of featured animation, but “Disney” reminds us of mass-market products–like things you’d find at the Disney Store. It cheapens the feeling. The logo gives off the impression that Disney has become more of a brand and less of an experience, which isn’t exactly how you want to feel going into a movie.
Current Logo: 2015
From frowns to clowns—there’s a lot to unpack here. IHOP took the concept of bad logo redesigns to a new level. The company had a frown they couldn’t shake off—the downward-facing banner underneath their name. Understandably, they wanted to rebrand and erase any negative subconscious thoughts associated with their restaurants. Realistically, most people didn’t get a negative vibe from the logo—it probably came from their poor service and lousy food. But hey, this isn’t a Yelp review.
Sure, the logo was dated and boring, but that was sort of on-brand for them. Do you go to a diner expecting an exciting meal? No, you go because it has comfort food— waffles, hash browns, pie, patty melts, coffee. In this case, IHOP just had to convey that they’re friendly and familiar. But they did the total opposite.
In comes this piece of work. Have you ever seen a more menacing logo? We think not. We understand it’s supposed to be a cute smiley face that invokes happiness, but they really missed the mark on this one. It looks like a clown, and as a society, we’ve unanimously agreed that clowns are creepy. Staring into that thing’s round lifeless eyes doesn’t make us want pancakes. It makes us uncomfortable.
The Worst Logo Transformation
Company: The Sims 4
Current Logo: 2019
It’s not uncommon that video game franchises rebrand with the release of new editions or significant updates, but this case is especially noteworthy. Five years into the game’s life, The Sim 4 received a new logo and a full rebrand of the gaming platform to match. Gamers hated the new look and for a good reason.
A major part of The Sims 4 logo is the Plumbob, the green diamond-shaped emblem that not only shows up within their marketing materials but within the game itself. You see, this symbol appears nearly everywhere in the game—over characters’ heads, on loading screens, within the menus, and in subtle places like accents on in-game furniture and patterns on character clothing.
And that’s where the issue comes into play. The new, flat design of the emblem, combined with updated brand colors and motion graphics, created an off-putting experience for gamers.
The new logo’s colors were used throughout the gaming interface, which induced headaches for many users. There were reports of players seeking medical attention for severe migraines caused by the animated version of the Plumbob emblem.
Players with vision impairments were unable to see certain Plumbob symbols within the game. Even worse, several autistic gamers came forward, saying the new colors and emblem animations caused sensory overload, which triggered both physical discomfort and mental episodes.
I'm also autistic and the mess of colours is a sensory nightmare. With the white screens I could put the "eye care" setting of my monitor on and it'd be okay and not cause a migraine. Now, the sims is now completely inaccessible for me. I'm so sad.— L (@spooniesims) July 17, 2019
As a result, the game became unplayable for a large part of their audience. Because of the widespread usability issues, it became apparent that The Sims 4 and EA released the new logo and matching interface without any accessibility testing. And unfortunately for this franchise, their logo is a significant part of their user experience.
Despite the significant backlash, The Sims 4 team stuck with the updated logo. However, they concluded that the 2019 logo’s colors were too bold to be used in certain interfaces. In-game Plumbob animations had to be adjusted to accommodate impairments too. An emergency game update was released to relieve the Sims community of their collective headache.
We apologize for bombarding you with all of these design fiascos, but one man’s failure is another man’s opportunity. Although these redesigns are unfortunate, there’s a lot to learn from them. Some of the most valuable advice is what not to do, instead of directions on what to do.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from these bad logo redesigns:
- Mixing diverse styles can make the design look disjointed.
- Logo typography should match your emblem.
- Think about how your logo will be perceived
- Your logo affects your entire branding strategy.
- Everyone should be able to see and understand your imagery.
- It’s best to work with a graphic designer.
We usually work with people who fall into one of these two different mindsets—business owners ready to dump their current logo and people apprehensive about change. And there’s nothing wrong with loving parts of your brand while needing a refresh. If you’re looking to rework your logo, our dedicated designers can take your idea and craft it into a finished product.