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The 7 Biggest Logo Events in 2013

This year has seen a lot of big happenings in the logo design field. Yes, it’s been a crazy year, with no shortage of topics to buzz about. The best way to sum it up is that the year was simultaneously amazing and disappointing. We saw a lot of great design happen, and there were glimpses of a world starting to recognize the value of great logo branding. But we also saw companies unveil logos that look like a committee created it, and got frustrated during the revision process, ultimately finalizing on ineffective, unattractive design.

1. Google Freshens Up


One trend we saw a lot of was simplification. Many companies realized that a good way to refresh their image was to remove the gradients, drop shadows and other unnecessary elements from their logo.

Google cut the fat out, and came out with a simple, clean look for their logo and application bar. Experienced designers cheered, and the Bevel/Emboss function took Drop Shadow’s hand and slunk into a hidden background layer.


They obviously learned from the positive response to last year’s Chrome upgrade. The logo looks so much better with fewer gradients and effects.

google old

What a refreshing change from their earlier logo! Business world, take heed!





2. Appalachian State Forgets What A Logo Is


Sluggishly waking from their post-turkey stupor, App State revealed its new logo the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s the new logo on the bottom. It took many people a while to realize they weren’t kidding, because just look at it. He is named “Victory Yosef”.


With a straight face, Mountaineers director of athletics Charlie Cobb announced “The excitement that Victory Yosef has generated among our students, alumni and fans since we introduced it as a throwback logo last fall has been overwhelming. Due to its popularity, it only made sense to make Victory Yosef a permanent part of our branding. We hope that it endures as a recognizable mark of Appalachian athletics for years to come.”

The former logo, a beautiful, iconic mountain man, had been used for 14 years. It’s style is fairly common, but it communicates quickly the idea with interesting shading and highlights. Now the athletes get to wear a child’s drawing of Popeye Abe Lincoln on their helmets.


3. Yahoo Insults The Entire Graphic Design Industry

yahoo copy

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialized profession, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, fliers, business cards, etc. are readily available. But is design the act of putting something on a page?

After months of teases and false alarms, Yahoo! finally unveiled the overworked and distorted nightmare that is their new logo. Were we taught in school not to distort a beautiful typeface like Optima, because a lot of thought was put into its’ architecture? Yes.

Does the CEO, Marissa Mayer, think that anyone can do design? Yes, and that’s a common misconception that we urgently need to fight. According to her blog, she “rolled up her sleeves, and dove into the trenches with (her) logo design team” and spent the “majority of Saturday and Sunday” designing the logo “from start to finish”. There’s so many things wrong with this post, it brings tears to my eyes.

This debacle represents the worst aspects of someone who doesn’t understand or accept that typography and graphic design in general are professions that benefit from years or decades of training. She shows a love for design, while implying that she is equally qualified to participate in it without mastering the process. Which annoyed a lot of professionals that have.

4. Philips Re-Invents The Logo Reveal

phillsreveal philstweet

The marketing team at Philips really know the value of the slow reveal; it created a teaser social media campaign that allowed anyone to “claim” any of the 50,000 pixels in an image of the new logo by signing in with Facebook or Twitter and specific hashtag.

In this way, the shape and colors of the new identity were gradually revealed. On November 13, they officially launched their brand after engaging thousands of people and making sure their logo was talked about in all the right circles.




The reworked enclosure-style logo is cleaner, and works better at small sizes. It’s formerly thin lines are now stronger and the top is subtly rounded and friendlier. Even a novice can appreciate it’s clean lines and easy readability.










5. The National Reconnaissance Office Goes With The Octopus


Should the agency that operates America’s spy satellites be a little more subtle? Especially in this age of concern of individual privacy and paranoia?  “Nothing is beyond our reach.” Ha!

After unleashing this terrifying logo for one of their spy satellites, a spokewoman explained: “NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide.”

OK, great that we’re striking fear in the hearts of our nation’s enemies, but it also gives us a little glimpse into the agency’s mindset, that apparently is that they can strangle, devour or make little octopus babies with every soul on earth.




6. Farmers Strips Down


How many discussions have we had with clients about the concept of “less is more”? Keep this image somewhere safe, so you can quickly illustrate your point.

They lost the tagline and found new respect in the design world by letting the text breathe while still retaining it’s essence; a sunrise and shield.

“The new logo captures our belief that by helping customers make more informed insurance decisions, we can provide them with greater knowledge, confidence and security,” says Mike Linton, farmers’ chief marketing officer. “The new logo is part of the Farmers transformation to an organization that not only serves our customers better, but also helps empower them.”

Yes, it gained an ink color. The logo makes up for that in white space and simplicity. Well done, Lippincott design agency, and well done, Farmers.



7. Miami Dolphins Now Swimming Without Head Protection


Much like Stephen Colbert’s painting of himself in front of a painting of himself, the original logo for the Miami Football helmets featured a dolphin who himself wears a helmet. Whenever I saw it, I wished it had a smaller dolphin on the dolphin’s helmet.

For the first time in 4 logo versions, the dolphin’s head was let loose, allowing the dolphin to swim naturally and show off its artistic curves.  Instead of making the dolphin jumping out of the water, the animal is in a “more powerful and ascending position”, according to Claudia Lezcano, the Dolphins’ chief marketing officer. She stated. “We wanted to have a look toward the future but be anchored in our iconic past.”

When you look back on 2013, what stands out in your mind? Did you create something that makes you burst with pride? Did any of your design views change? Hopefully 2014 will be a year of growth and development for all of us.

Why should a dentist get a logo?

Looking into my seven year olds mouth I see countless reasons why it was not a good idea to skip the yearly dentist appointment, or why it was very bad to rush the child to bed—as he finishes his last bite of ice cream.  (Brushing the teeth would have been another excruciating step.)

The scary reality is now I have to find a dentist that not only can save me and my son from this shame and his cavity-infected mouth BUT ALSO is someone I can trust.  It doesn’t sound too difficult.

But in American Fork, Utah there are over one hundred dentists all screaming out to me saying, “I’ll solve all your dental problems!”   So I set out on this journey in a sea of “qualified” dentists.

Where do I start?  Google Maps.  I type in American Fork Dentists.  Fifteen pop up.  I place my curser over their name and there is nothing that sets them apart but their last name.

Except for…. Wait a minute!? What do my eyes behold?? Color…. design…. could that be a LOGO? It’s a simple one really but one that catches my eye probably because the rest of dentists listed did not have one. It beckons me to click on it.

Click! I am on his home page…I see his family, his office and practice. In my mind I say with relief, “He is the one”. Why? Well, to most potential customers, and me, if he cared enough about his business to create a logo then he must care enough about my kid’s teeth. The other dentists, if they have a logo, didn’t take the time to use it properly, and incorporate it into Google Maps. This dentist, paid for a professionally designed logo and implemented it into Google Maps.

It may sound silly, but it’s true, if you are one fish in the very big sea of your profession you have to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What sets your business apart from the rest?
2. What will attract the most attention immediately?
3. What will cause a call to action?


Subliminal Messages in Logos

I hate to use the word “subliminal” with logos, because ALL logos should be affecting someone’s mind below the threshold of consciousness. A good logo should be manipulating you to be attracted to the company or products with a simple story.

However, some logos have graphics that have been “buried” in the logo. So buried that the viewer doesn’t recognize it until maybe the hundredth time they’ve seen the logo, and that nice little “a-ha!” moment makes the logo even more memorable to them.

I was indulging in my two favorite pastimes-eating fast food and analyzing logos-when I noticed the outside of the Wendy’s bag had a hidden message. Can you see it?










Wendy’s changed their entire brand in March of this year, and with the change came a loss of the old nostalgic feel that their previous branding had. They use a more modern typeface, their stores are slicker, and the drawing is updated to be clean and fresh.





The simple one-color illustration use on their bags makes the implied message a little clearer, though, since it doesn’t have the distracting colors. It’s a touch of nostalgia I think they wanted to evoke into their overall message of great food. And who did we count on for great food in our childhood?









Here’s some examples of hidden meanings in other famous logos. I won’t incude the obvious FedEx logo, because readers of this blog are probably sick of reading about that.

Hey, that’s a biker!









Nice illustration of analog and digital technology.







They have everything from A-Z.









“Don’t worry, we still have 31 flavors”









Can you think of some more examples?


Like these logos? I did all three of them in about an hour. The reason it was so easy is because none of the companies exist as far as I know. I just made the art, then added a company name that fits.

This has been something that’s been a slight pet peeve of mine. I see a lot of logos that look amazing, and fit the company name really well. I think, “How did they ever come up with that?”

Then I find out by doing a little research that the company doesn’t exist.

The designer showed a lot of imagination, but never had to deal with the client request to come up with something unique to brand the company.

We’ve all seen 99% of the time, the client will choose the logo that we would LEAST recommend. This makes logo portfolio sites a graveyard of discarded ideas. I’m fine with that, because at least the designer was working within the bounds of the client’s brief.

But I wonder what percentage of the logos you see in portfolios like Logopond or LogoLounge are for actual companies. I don’t know if that’s ethical or not…on the one hand, it’s a great way to build up a sweet portfolio. Young designers just starting out have a hard time getting a portfolio without experience, and this is an easy workaround for that.

But, on the other hand, it’s showing work that never had boundaries…it’s more like showing a piece of art, rather than design.

What do you all think?

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes in Logo Design

The designers here at BusinessLogos have designed thousands of logos, and have had the chance to critique and revise thousands more. Every day we see these common mistakes that customers and designers make, which cause their business to look weak, unprofessional, and will end up costing the companies sales, respect and profit.

You don’t have to have a huge budget to get quality design, but you DO have to pay for experience, so that you can avoid these mistakes.

This icon is available through stock art stores like Shutterstock, and also through most of the designers on DesignCrowd.

5. Uncopyrightable Design

You find this with crowdsourced design companies like 99designs or DesignCrowd. The designers can’t spend a lot of time on each logo, so they recycle clip art or re-use designs they’ve made for other companies. There’s no system in place to prevent the same art being used my multiple companies, so there is no way to copyright the logo. We’ve spoken with many upset customers that have found this out the hard way.



4. Too Many Elements

“Great, now we just need some napkins, because that’s another thing we provide.”

The idea of the logo is to put a professional “signature” on your business. It is not your entire brand message, nor a sales brochure for your business. It should not bear the burden of communicating every aspect for business (that’s what your marketing is for). But too many business owners want to make sure every product, service, or design idea they can come up with is included in the logo, making it a convoluted mess.

This also happens when business owners receive their initial concepts form a design company, and want to “add value” to their design purchase by piling on ideas. Again, this makes your message LESS clear, and will turn off clients and potential business partners.


3. Amateur Design 

It’s a trusim in every aspect of the business world: you get what you pay for. If you have your 10-year old niece draw your logo’s character for $5, the value will show. If you get 100 designs for $50, the value will show.





2. Unnecessary Text

If you need to have a tagline, great; just leave it out of the logo. Let it be a part of your business card or website. The idea of a logo is to get it stripped down to the essentials, and your address and hours or operation are not essentials. LLC and INC are legally required in your legal documents, but not in your logo, and they tend to make your logo look less professional.


1. Not Designing with All Uses In Mind

The reason logo design is all about simplicity is because your logo needs to be flexible. It’s going to be used in different ways, like embroidery, web and animation. It’s print requirements will be different from it’s web requirements. So it’s not a good idea to use too many gradients and complex illustrations, because that doesn’t translate well to embroidery, for example. Experienced designers know how to design logos that will work for all forms of media that you might use.

Getting your logo done right is a very important part of starting your business. It’s worth the cost to have it done right.

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