Thu 16 Jul 2015 | By:

12 Worst Logo Fails – How to Avoid These Embarrassing Mistakes

Every business needs one. Especially if you’re just starting a business.

It may be the first impression a customer sees, so it needs to be perfect. Amazing, really. But when it goes wrong…it can go really, really wrong.

A logo is a visual representation of what a business stands for. It’s supposed to convey some kind of emotion like trust, strength or quality.

But somewhere in the design process, these logo designers took a wrong turn. Instead of a positive brand connection, these logos just make us scratch our heads and say…

What were they thinking?

1) Rising Sun Sushi

Business Logos

This logo tried to look like a Japanese Tea House with a rising red sun behind. Makes sense since the name is Rising Sun.

But it looks like someone’s bending over. Not an attractive look for a restaurant.

Lesson Learned: Proofreading Is Essential

This is the perfect example of why you need to proof everything before it’s printed. Obviously they were trying to showcase a rising sun. But all they got was a offensive moon.


2) Sat An

Business Logos

It’s a simple abbreviation for satellite and antenna. Get it? Sat An.

But who wants to be serviced by Satan?

Lesson Learned: Spacing Matters

So does finding the right abbreviation. But a simple space between the abbreviations would make all the difference.


3) State of Vermont Maple Syrup

Bad Business Logos

Once again, it’s a concept gone horribly wrong. You get maple syrup from tapping maple trees with a spout and it’s collected in buckets. Adorable right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Lesson Learned: Concepts Don’t Always Translate Well

Maybe this looked great to the designer. But that guy needs to take a step back and see his creation.

Then hang his head in shame, because it’s so obviously a huge, embarrassing mistake.


4) Comprehensive Health Care

Business Logo Fails

This is the perfect example of cutesy gone wrong. It ended up looking like a naked house trying to cover up his unmentionables.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Be Cute

This is a health care business, not a pre-school. Instead of trying to be cute, how about trying to convey trust, professionalism and quality. Isn’t that what health care is supposed to be?

Don’t go for the cutesy graphics that doesn’t really match your brand.


5) London Olympics 2012

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 9.02.01 AM

This one actually caused a huge controversy. Each Olympics has it’s own logo based on the host country’s personality. But this one was never embraced and the majority found it confusing and distasteful. In fact, over 48,000 Great Britain citizens signed a petition to have the £400,000 logo scrapped and redesigned.

Lesson Learned 1: Expensive Graphic Artists Aren’t Always Right

There are two huge lessons for this one. First, expensive graphic designers are not always right. This logo cost £400,000 (roughly $440,000) and was designed by a well-respected design firm. However, someone has to approve what the graphic designer comes up with. And you don’t always have to take the artist’s word that is “incredible” or that “people will love it”.

Lesson Learned 2: Fonts Matter

The second lesson is that fonts matter. If the majority can’t read it, or it’s confusing, don’t use that font. Period.


6) The Computer Doctors

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 9.02.32 AM

I can’t believe anyone ever approved this logo.

Lesson Learned: People Understand Letters

Don’t use pornographic graphics as a substitute for letters. Just don’t.


7) Cowboy Sharkies American Grill

Bad Business Logos

This one is combination of a catchy name coupled with a bad design. The name is two separate concepts mashed together, but it’s kind of catchy. But the logo is just too much.

Lesson Learned: You Can’t Have Everything

Sometimes a catchy name is cool. The name “Cowboy Sharkies” is actually quite memorable. But the logo doesn’t need to do more than show off the name. The shark graphic is overkill.

Choose what matters (like showcasing your catchy name) and stick with that.


8) Missouri Conservation Department

Business Logo Fails

My first thought when looking at this logo is why is there a fish on the back of a raccoon?

Lesson Learned: Keep It Simple

So the Missouri Conservation Department probably takes care of animals, fish and land (trees and plants). But the logo doesn’t need to convey everything the Department does. A simple nature graphic would have been better.


9) Kudawara Pharmacy

Business Logo Fails

Well, what can I say about this one? Once again, common sense was sick the day this was approved.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Try to Be Clever

Hopefully this company’s intention wasn’t to simulate sex in their logo. And I don’t really get the people connection for a pharmacy business (are they supposed to be showcasing health?).

Somehow they were trying to be clever and no one caught what it really looked like.


10) Highlight

Highlight is a social app that notifies you when your friends are nearby. But this logo literally gives people headaches. I can’t even look at it for five seconds without turning away.

Worst Business Logos

Lesson Learned: Flashy Isn’t Always Best

Everyone wants to stand out in the marketplace. But you don’t need to be overly flashy to do that. And your logo shouldn’t make people turn immediately away. You want to be memorable for the right reasons.

This one fails on all counts.


11) Hillary 2016

This is another high-profile logo designed by an expensive design firm. And this one also caused a lot of controversy.

Why is the arrow red?

Why is the arrow moving to the right?

What exactly does it mean?

None of these are why I have an issue with this logo. What does this logo remind you of?

Logo Fails

Lesson Learned: Don’t Copy Established Images

Here’s what I see when I look at that logo:

Logo Fails

It’s the same image seen around the world. This well-known sign means “this way to the hospital”.

I don’t know how they didn’t catch the similarity. Arrows have strong imagery, including moving forward or moving in the right direction (good concepts for a political candidate). But they’re also the same as a common street sign when put on a giant “H”.

Probably not what she intended, but that’s what it looks like.


12) Sherwin Williams

Bad Business Logos

This logo has been around since 1906. It was creepy then, and it’s still creepy now. Who thought it was cool to cover the earth in red blood?

Lesson Learned: If It Sucks, Change It

Somewhere in the life of the Sherwin Williams business, someone should have said “Hey guys, don’t you think this looks like we want to cover the earth in blood?”

But either someone didn’t have the guts to stand up and say what everyone else was thinking, or they just never noticed. Either way, this logo needed to be changed around WWI.

If a logo isn’t working, change it. Projecting a strong brand image is more important than any tradition.


Making an Awesome Logo for Your Business

Designing a logo for your brand new small business is challenging. It’s not a simple process, nor should it be. It needs to be done right, because clearly it can go horribly wrong.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, because money isn’t everything in the logo business. The original Twitter logo was bought for $6 from a stock photo bank. It was streamlined and updated a little in 2012, but the concept was the same.


Logo for business

Remember the above lessons when choosing the right logo design for your business. Your logo should be simple, have a clean design, and be easily understood. 99designs and Fiverr are excellent places to get the perfect logo for your business.

And pornographic logos are only appropriate for actual pornographic businesses.

Just saying.

Do you like your business logo? Brag about it and join the conversation on Twitter!

About Liesha Petrovich

Liesha is a small business owner of 20 years, host of Startup Savant, the owner of a karate dojo in Maine, and creator of Work Mobly. During free time she's with her family and working on a Doctorate in Entrepreneurship.