Announced

The Best and Worst Identities of 2013, Part 2: The Worst Reviewed

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Announced December 26, 201312.26.13 by Armin

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An interesting thing happened this year as I was parsing our archives to find the worst identities of the year: there weren’t as many as in years past. Usually I have a first selection of 20 to 30 identities to bring down to 12 — this year I only had about 14 to choose from in my first pass. Which doesn’t mean all the work was great but that the amount of large-scale work has, perhaps, gotten better as of recently. Still, some identities did manage to underperform and herewith are the 12 worst identities of 2013 from the Reviewed section of Brand New.

Also:
Part 1, The Best Reviewed
Part 3, The Best Noted
Part 4, The Worst Noted
Part 5, Most Liked Friday Likes

It’s not necessarily fair to put Emily Oberman’s work as one of the worst identities of the year since she was, in fact, simply following (on purpose) the trends and tropes of big pharma and brand name prescription drugs to create the identity for Ablixa, a fictional drug that plays a pivotal role in Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects. Evil typography, a faceless abstract human figure, and a burst of faux health make for a very convincing vacuous identity.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Logo (1,087)

22%

31%

47%

On Packaging (1,044)

18%

29%

53%

On TV Spot (757)

21%

31%

47%

In a rare misstep for Wolff Olins — because even when their work is not warmly embraced they are still always trying to attempt something different and unique — theis generic globe icon and cheap-looking rotary telephone coil device in the identity are too underdeveloped and trite.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Icon (2,083)

6%

26%

66%

On Typography (2,052)

10%

40%

50%

On Application (2,046)

7%

23%

70%

Inflated wordmark notwithstanding, the Iberia redesign wasn’t of the offensive kind; it just didn’t offer anything relevant or imaginative. A rendition of an airplane’s tail in the colors of the Spanish flag is as exciting as having the seat at the rear of an airplane next to the lavatories. Also: weird, inflated wordmark.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Icon (716)

18%

48%

34%

On Sub-icons (738)

15%

35%

50%

On Typography (654)

20%

56%

24%

The Commonwealth Games have never been known as beacons of great identity design but this last attempt strives for far too much energy and dynamism in a single overwrought graphic. The early merchandise options serve as examples of what a bad color palette is and what colors don’t work well together.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Icon (803)

19%

34%

47%

On Typography (791)

16%

42%

42%

Coming back to see the logo after five months I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not that bad. There is still a strange lack of proportion between the “R” and its encasing circle but it’s nothing harmful. However, Radioshack made it to the list mostly because of its use of a shit brown color. No one — designer or client — should look at that color and go “Yes, that’s the one!”.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Logo (1,121)

8%

42%

50%

On Colors (1,165)

4%

21%

75%

On Store (1,010)

14%

56%

30%

Luckily this redesign is contained in Germany, where they have smoked away a truly iconic logo in exchange for a fussy, overdesigned seal that attempts to revive a vintage logo from Lucky Strike’s history only to fall remarkably short.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Logo (2,354)

10%

21%

69%

On Packaging (2,296)

16%

36%

48%

A solid concept — you’ll have to read the original post — foiled by a weak execution in the livery and an astonishingly bad and irrelevantly extended wordmark.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Concept (913)

53%

34%

13%

On Logo (945)

7%

26%

67%

On Livery (923)

33%

37%

30%

Most voters were more forgiving than I was, giving this logo and identity a majority of “Fine” votes but there is nothing redeeming about it. From the clunky attempt at a door to the default-looking typography to the been-there-done-that use of logo-as-window it doesn’t amount to a very tempting destination or even Cato Partners’ usual quality of work.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Icon (1,405)

29%

31%

40%

On Typography (1,365)

12%

44%

44%

On Application (1,385)

34%

36%

30%

A completely unnecessary redesign of a brand that could produce journals made out of toilet paper and people would still buy them. The old Copperplate Gothic wordmark — although far from interesting — didn’t attempt to carry its own voice. Now, the new wordmark tries to call more attention to itself and the addition of the 9-block icon is distracting and poorly managed.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Icon (2,082)

6%

27%

67%

On Typography (2,051)

10%

40%

50%

On Application (2,045)

7%

23%

70%

In my original review and while writing this I don’t feel the logo is as bad as most people made it out to be. As far as wordmarks go it’s readable, it’s bouncy, and it’s not screwed up. The main problem, and why Yahoo lands so high in the Worst list, was the built-up anticipation and 30-day stunt that culminated in an exceptionally disappointing change that didn’t move the brand forward or backward or even sideways, it was just a change of costume for no evident reason.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Thirty Days of Change Stunt (3,082)

18%

44%

38%

On Logo (3,303)

2%

19%

79%

It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between good minimalism and bad minimalism in logo design. This, rest assured, is the bad kind with a poorly resolved “EY” monogram that is unclear whether it should be read as “E, period. Y, period.” or as a rhyme of “Hey” and a yellow beam that just shoots out with barely any relation to the monogram. It’s just plain boring.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Monogram (1,099)

7%

29%

64%

On Beam (1,157)

8%

35%

57%

On EY Name (1,116)

6%

25%

69%

JCPenney lands the top spot this year not because the new-slash-old logo is bad — it’s not and neither is it any good — but because in a span of two years, JCPenney has mismanaged its logo and brand to the point of having to issue 30-second televised apologies while confusing consumers and spending money on poorly concocted schemes of signaling positive change through logo changes, starting with the idiotic and offensive 200-logo bake-off of 2011. Time to get your shit together JCPenney, because even this return to the old logo isn’t the right move to stay relevant.

Poll Results (Total Votes Cast)

Great

Fine

Bad

On Return to 2011 Logo (1,314)

22%

38%

40%

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