11 Logo Designs That Angered the Masses

Sonia Weiser
17 . 04 . 15

Since her official announcement on Sunday, the internet's been all aflutter over Hillary Clinton's campaign logo. It's been compared to the "I'm with stupid" t-shirt, the FedEx logo, a hospital sign, or a nautical symbol, while others (including a cartoon from The New Yorker) have pointed out that a democrat should have an arrow pointing to the left.

This isn't the first branding-related kerfuffle and it certainly won't be the last. Here are 11 other logos that caused a stir.

1. London 2012

The logo for the 2012 Olympics cost 400,000 pounds and took a year to design. But when it was released in 2007, citizens of the world—especially of London—were not happy. An article in the Daily Mail said, "Critics of the new logo described it as a 'broken swastika,' a 'scribbled joke,' a 'toileting monkey' and even the logo for the Nazi SS." BBC News reported that some Iranians complained that the logo spelled "Zion" and wanted it replaced. There were even rumors that Iran wouldn't participate in the Olympic games, but those were soon dispelled. By far the internet's favorite comparison was that the logo resembled Lisa Simpson performing a sexual act on Bart. A petition to replace the logo received more than 40,000 signatures, but produced no results. 

If you look closely, you can see that the logo is actually a jagged "2012."

2. Gap

In with the new, out with the new, and in with the old again. The classic clothing store introduced a new logo in 2010, but a week later, they brought the 20-year-old logo back. The main complaint was that the design was amateurish and, for a brand running on nostalgia and reliability, the revamp just didn't work. The company then put out a call for logo submissions, but that angered graphic designers who, understandably, didn't want to work for free. In the end, little damage was done and the Gap logo of yesteryear returned.

3. Tropicana

Tropicana's packaging redesign cost them millions. From its introduction on January 1, 2009, to its overhaul on February 22, sales dropped 20%. Customers complained that the stark, unfriendly look made Tropicana indistinguishable from other orange juice brands, and that rather than exuding the freshness of Tropicana's classic orange with a straw, it just looked like "a generic bargain brand."

4. Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky's teams have been the Wildcats since 1909, but in 1994 the school's iconic Wildcat logo underwent a bit of a change. The school had received a number of complaints about the Wildcat's tongue in the logo (above left); some felt the tongue looked more phallic than tongue-like. The university initially thought the complaints were a joke, but on closer inspection the roaring cat's tongue did look a little phallic. The school redesigned the logo so it would be less hilarious to 7th graders.

5.Starbucks

iStock

Starbucks' siren has received plenty of flack from those offended by having a nude mermaid's splayed legs printed on the side of their morning coffee. But new outrage arose at the brand's 40th anniversary redesign in 2011. A Forbes article that year included a plethora of complaints about the logo. Some patrons worried that without "Starbucks Coffee" written on the logo, the brand wouldn't be recognizable, and the change would be the ultimate cause of Starbucks' demise. (They seem to be doing OK.) Others felt the company was losing sight of its original mission and wasn't in touch with its consumers. 

6. Marco Rubio

Hillary's isn't the only controversial logo of the 2016 campaign. Republican Senator Marco Rubio announced his presidential bid on Monday, bringing along his own set of logo problems. The main complaints have been directed at the omission of Hawaii and Alaska from the map of the United States used as the dot over the i in his name. Mazie Hirono, a U.S Senator from Hawaii, tweeted "There's no question @marcorubio's priorities are out of line with what's best for HI- he even forgot to include us in his campaign logo." The other noticeable design flaw is the kerning, or spacing, between the individual letters. Vox pointed out that rather than reading as marco rubio (it's all in lower case to appeal to millennial voters), it reads as "m arc o ru bio."

7. and 8. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

Fire is a reoccurring theme in this year's election bids. Paul's logo, which is a bright red, right leaning, two-pronged flame, has earned comparisons to Tinder.

Cruz's has been compared to the logos for Natural Gas, The Onion, and Al Jazeera as well as an upside down burning American flag.

9. Pepsi

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PepsiCo paid the Arnell Group $1 million to create Pepsi's new logo, yet its 2008 debut brought along very little enthusiasm. Aside from a thinner, curvier font, the only other real change was in the width and tilt of the white wave that runs through the center of the blue and red orb. Rather than being horizontal, it is now diagonal. In 2009, a work-in-progress document [PDF] from the Arnell Group was released, detailing every bit of minutiae that went into the new logo's concept. Maybe that $1 million was worth it.

10. Airbnb

In a classic case of logo look-alike syndrome, Airbnb's Bêlo icon was compared to that of software company Automation Anywhere. So much so that after negotiations, Automation Anywhere redid its own logo to set itself apart. Folks on Twitter also found similarities to the kangaroo ears on the logo for the now extinct social networking site, Gowalla, and the one for The Wirecutter's offshoot, The Sweethome. And like the majority of other design fails, there were also comparisons to genitalia.

11. Bing

GageSkidmore via Wikimedia Commons // Fair Use

Poor Bing. During its first year on the search engine scene, the reader survey from the branding-design blog Brand New named Bing the worst brand identity of 2009. Not because it was unintentionally lewd, or resembled a different company's look, but because it was just straight-up bad. Even Erik Spiekermann, notable German graphic designer and co-author of Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works took the time to comment, writing

Couldn’t you hire someone who can actually design type? It wouldn’t take more than an hour to do. It would still be a boring logo, but at least it wouldn’t look like a free font drawn by a 15-year old in Corel Draw, in 1987. It was made from scratch and it still looks like scratch.

Bing finally replaced its logo in 2013.