The Types of Bad Design We Remember The Most

By Sarah Irgang , Feb 18 2014
Types of Bad Design

Featured Image: Unplash/Ed Robertson

A simple fact about being human: we are ADDICTED to the terrible. I’m not sure what their reasons are, but  some designers forget the vital elements to successful logo design and create these truly offensive mistakes. Many studies have tried to explain this phenomena, but we’re not here to really look into that. The fact is, we’re more likely to celebrate (groan at?) horrible visual design than something we can appreciate.  So let’s dive in and give ourselves a little moment to gloat that we didn’t make this mistakes.  (Warning!  Some of these examples are NSFW.)  

Kerning That Just Doesn’t Work

No one can blame you if you’re really tempted to whip out a megaphone and shout in someone’s ear: “KERNING MATTERS.”  After all, everyone loves a stroll in the “PARK,” not the “P          AR K.”  The worst case scenario for anyone who doesn’t take kerning seriously will result in repeats of MEGAFLICKS, KIDS EXCHANGE, and Pem’s (Perri’s?) Barber Shop.  Or rather:

Famous Brands That Fouled Up

You know what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Since we’re practically ants compared to the colossal corporations, we can’t deny that deep in our hearts there’s something twisted yet satisfying about seeing one of the giants trip up.  A poor design choice in corporate branding is one of the easiest foul-ups to spot and mock.  One good example is Gap’s attempt to change its logo in 2010.

The change was very poorly received, and we poked fun at it big time.  We will remember this incident not because it was a bad logo, or even because a big brand screwed up.  We will remember it because we had a good laugh at their failure, and that made us feel like we the ants overpowered a giant.

Designs That Commit All of the “Deadly Sins of Design”

So what’s better than boring bad designs?  A logo using Wordart stuck in the 90s + gradients + clipart and then some.  Now this is getting interesting.  Here’s a tip for anyone who intentionally wants to make a logo like this (for either parody purposes or for whatever weird reasons you have): the more “sin points” a logo racks up, the better chance it will have at achieving the status of “so bad it’s good.

Labyrinth Coffee House Design


Designs That Make Us See…Other Things

Let’s face it: our minds head straight for the gutter whenever they can.  Give us the right visuals and we’ll be covering our mouths and snickering in a matter of seconds.  What makes it even funnier is that most designs with something “naughty” in them were likely made by individuals who were completely oblivious (or who might have wanted to get some petty revenge against a client, who knows).  Logos that often appear in lists of “Logo Design Gone Wrong” are examples make us feel “uncomfortable” or “see things we weren’t supposed to see.” For instance:

The “K” in Kudawara Pharmacy’s logo gets attention for the wrong reasons.

The Catholic Archdiocese logo made the public uncomfortable due to design choices that became less acceptable over the years.

Though it’s fun to laugh at examples of design gone wrong, designers can also learn from them.  They’re case studies of what not to do, and sometimes a good cautionary tale helps us all strive to do better.

Do you think there are other types of bad design that attract attention?  Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ZillionDesigns.

How useful was this post?

Average rating 3 / 5. Vote count: 2

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Sarah Irgang is excited to be working for ZillionDesigns as a marketing coordinator. She enjoys discussing about design and the design industry, watching television, and sketching with her Wacom Bamboo tablet.


Leave a Reply