This year I will be dividing up the Best and Worst selections in separate posts. In part because there is a lot of information (including summaries of all the polls) and it will be easier to digest, and in part because we will be on semi vacation and won’t be posting daily for the next two weeks, so splitting it up gives us some content to spread as 2010 comes to a close. But enough of that, let’s get to it! Here is Part I: The Worst.
Part II next week.
Once the darling of the design industry as the epitome of a flexible identity that could mutate into a hundred different things and never lose its soul, MTV got its feet cut off, literally and figuratively. No longer about “music” the logo did away with its descriptor and went with the underwhelming “logo as vessel for all kinds of images” technique. I want my MTV… back.
For a government logo this wasn’t that bad. The problem was all the hubris about this logo being the devil’s child of the Obama ’08 campaign logo and the star and crescent moon symbol of Islam, ergo Obama is a muslim and has missiles aimed at the earth that, as they land, they will shoot Islam-converting rays at everyone and make Osama Bin Laden Prince of the World. Or something to that effect. What the media failed to really talk about is the super loose tracking in the word “Agency.” Enough room for Al Qaeda to hide in.
With the release of the latest version of iTunes came the most dramatic change to its venerable dock icon: No longer a CD (a what?) with a music note, the icon changed to just a glowing music note (even though iTunes serves as the portal to movies, TV shows, apps, and, oh yeah, music). Yes, the icon was kind of fugly, but no one expected the backlash it had, with hundreds of designers contributing their own versions, some serious and some mocking. But most important, iTunes 10 gave birth to the tradition of fake Twitter accounts for logos. Follow @itunes10icon.
Right before Super Bowl XLIV, the NFL unveiled the identity for the XLV edition and established it as the template for all future Super Bowl logos. The new guidelines feature a super shiny finish, the Vince Lombardi trophy (in all its phallic glory), a rendering of the venue where the game will be played, and some futuristic typography. Super Boring.
Changing from a warm and fuzzy look to a cold and sterile one was a bit of a turn-off, but Seattle’s Best Coffee needed something dramatic in order to move up the coffee chain ladder. Despite a very good effort on their new packaging the logo is more blood bank than caffeine drip.
In the larger scheme of things, this corporate identity isn’t that big of a deal but as an example of downright boring and oddly executed design for a corporation this takes the buttered caked.
The concept for the logo was interesting — the hands of the players triumphantly holding the trophy at the end of the final game — but the execution gave us weird, chubby, alien fingers. Somewhere in there, there was also a nice typographic approach to the word “Brasil” but that also got mishandled at some point.
Yes, this is sad in part because Saul Bass’ “tulip” logo for United is gone, but so is Pentagram’s understated wordmark that accompanied it for the past decade or so. With this merger, we got stuck with United’s name and Continental’s logo — it’s like when you write the word red in blue and your brain messes with you. Three months after the merger was announced, United unveiled an “upgrade” of its logo that made matters even worse.
For this 40,000-employee Portuguese corporation a 1990s rave flyer aesthetic is probably the least appropriate. But let’s assume it is, why does it have to be so awkwardly made? This December we received a follow-up from Ivity with a video explaining the work and showing more examples but it did little to change anyone’s opinion — well, in all fairness, the voting revealed that 30% of people changed their minds for the better, while the rest felt the same or worse about the work.
Following a cue from its façade, where a life-size dinosaur is peeking through a bubble in the roof, the logo ends up as a wobbly, boring mess of poor typography, bad proportions, and unfortunate colorations. Give kids a broccoli at the entrance to complete the brand experience for what looks like the world’s suckiest children’s museum.
It’s not that the old thunderdude identity was anything special or interesting but at least it blended with the aesthetics of American sports. The new logo is possibly the worst executed all year. Around the same time this logo came out I visited the dentist and in a single seating they took out a wisdom tooth and did a root canal. I could have done this logo on painkillers (and pain) as soon as I got home. Yes, it’s that whack.
No need for a drum roll. The number one spot of this year’s worst goes to Gap. Not just for the logo itself, but for their idiocy in trying to convert it into a crowdsourcing project, and then for their whaffling in reverting back to their old logo. Nothing they did managed to get anyone on their side. The most interesting part of the whole ordeal was the witty, snotty, acerbic rise of the @GapLogo fake Twitter account. The whole Gapgate backlash is summarized here. Well done Gap!