Logo design with subtle hidden messages

In logo design, a message doesn’t have to be obvious. In fact it could be years before you notice the message or never at all. This fantastic infographic from looks at some great ones.

logo design messages

My top six bad logo designs

As a logo designer I love to look at logos all around me. This involves me having plenty of opinions, positive and negative.

Designers are sometimes accused of looking at design as a designer and not as a viewer/potential customer.

So perhaps the logos and subsequent branding below have lead to greater brand recognition, better awareness with the correct market, and a massive increase in profits. Or perhaps I’m correct, and these logos are really bad.

Leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or nominate a bad logo design.

So here’s my top 6 bad logo designs!

Number 1. BP. Oil company

Bp logo
Whenever I see it, I think ‘Adobe Illustrator tutorial’ and ‘hay fever’. You can read BPs justification explanation here. One hates to kick a failing logo when it’s down, but the lower case minimalist lettering doesn’t work either. Looks suspiciously like Minion Pro, the default font on Adobe Illustrator. Web design has also given logo designers issues regarding the shape and amount of detail that a logo can carry. A quick look at the top left of BPs website shows the drawback of a logo as high as it is wide. It is just a bad logo design.

Number 2. Masterchef. British world-wide franchised TV programme.

Masterchef logo
Chefs do not cook with electric hobbs, they cook with gas. Nice design, but should not have gotten past the sketch version. You can read about the design here.

Number 3. Glasgow’s very own STV. (Scottish Television)

STV logo

A combination of a play button and a section of the Scottish flag, this logo simply does not work.  There’s the curves of the lettering, fighting the sharpness of the play button triangle. The closeness of the end part of the ´v`to the edge of the button… very strange.
As Taggart would say, ´It’s murder!`

Number 4. Sonofon Danish telephone company.

Sonofon logo


Insipid colour, meaningless ugly shape, and the 3D effect is at best ‘a bad choice’.

Number 5. The London Olympics.

London 2012 Olympics logo

Unforgivable. The terrible font, colours, shape, even the Trademark symbol in ghastly italics.

Number 6. Gasprom. Russian oil and gas company


Another one that just doesn’t work. From it saying G Gazprom to the gas G symbol being ´weak`. Gazprom, call me!!

Logo fail

Very amusing failed logos



A splendid website and a very amusing article on failed logos at

From Bored Panda ‘This is an actual logo designed in 1973 for the Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission. It even won an award from the Art Directors Club of Los Angeles.’

London 2012 Olympics logo

When bad design is inexcusable – That’s you London Olympics 2012

I’m writing this fully six months after the London Olympics 2012. An Olympics which were highly successful, particularly from a British perspective, both in terms of organisation, sporting success and spectacle.


From the sheer genius of Sir Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony (above), the 2012 Olympics was a complete success. Then there’s the logo. Released a couple of years earlier to widespread derision. Not helped by the £400000 price tag.

Many of those attempting to defend the logo at the time of the release said it would grow on us. That it was visionary, we would ‘get it’ later. Well now we are in the future, let’s have another look.


It is atrocious. The colours, the font, the shapes. It had to be pointed out to me, the shapes represent 2012. Thank goodness the brand became the opening ceremony, the stadium and the athletes. Showing an excellent product can survive a terrible logo. But it must be truly exceptional.

When you are in a hole stop digging

I found this interview with the logo’s creators Wolff Olins on Wired magazine.

‘Wolff Olins didn’t try to clamp the same exact image on everything. It’s a factor of their design that allows schisms — the logo, the colors, pretty much everything they created can be adapted or altered to fit the needs of different users.’

‘Schisms’? So different versions and variations of a logo subject to different needs. So, pretty much what every brand does with it’s logo then. Look for example at the variations used on Carlsberg or Coca-cola lorries, as opposed to their product packaging. Different environment, different solution, but within some shared rules. Although the more inconsistent the logo, the weakening of the brand, and shows a lack of confidence in the core logo. A clear sign Wolff Olins knew from the beginning, their logo didn’t work.

Dig dig dig dig

“The logotype emerged from what we called an energy grid,” says Wolff Olins chairman Brian Boylan. “Its shape comes from a grid which lies behind, and that grid in turn was used to create pattern which was used for the look of the games. If you look at the stadium itself, the color pattern for the seating is taken from this grid.”

Really!? Did you manage to say that with a straight face? The dreadful font, best described as ‘comic sans sharp’.

‘Pleasing the crowd wasn’t part of the goal, says Ije Nwokorie, Wolff Olins’ managing director.’

So, having been told by pretty much everyone they didn’t like the logo, they then claim that that was deliberate, like a particularly obnoxious spoilt child, that must always be right.

If only Wolff Olins were as good at design as they are at talking ‘branding bollocks’.



Logo Design Love

Logo Design Love is a book written by the designer David Airey. Essential reading for designers as a guide to creating iconic brand identities. It is also a fascinating read for anyone in business.
His blog at is also well worth visiting.

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