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This isn’t your typical “best logo design ever” Hall of Fame. Far from it. These logos haven’t been selected because they’re they’re the best, or even because they’re any good. Nope. These graphic elements and logos were hand-picked as being the most popular of all time. Not popular as in “I like that“. Popular as in “let’s use this“. Which when you get down to it, isn’t exactly a good thing, especially if we’re looking for an original logo. supposedly the point of the exercise itself. Accordingly, our version of a Hall of Fame features the most overused logos and graphic elements of all time. Designs that have been done to death, the most copied, knocked-off, reverse-engineered and generally abused so-called concepts in the history of ever. Without further ado, here’s the inductees:

Gold Ribbon: The Ubiquitous Swoosh

Logo Hall of Fame: The swooshGranted, the Ubiquitous Swoosh logo has died down a little bit since they were outlawed just shortly after the dot com crash (bit of a “lemming thing“), but there’s still an occasional breakout here and there. Swooshes are a perennial fave because they’re all hi-techy and stuff. Designing swooshes is hard and take a whopping 1.5 seconds to create. Drop a circle, copy and drag, extrude. For its service to deadline crunched and concept-addled graphic designers the world over, we hoist a glass to the celebrate this life-saving graphic element. By the way, Saturn called. It wants its ring back.

Honorable mention: The Multiple Swoosh Extravaganza

Logo Hall of Fame: Multiple swooshOscar Wilde once said “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Accordingly, if one Swoosh will do ya, a whole bunch of Swooshes will do one, or several, better. Like its solo counterpart, the Multi-Swoosh extravaganza takes about 2.5 seconds of extremely taxing graphic design brilliance to create. Once we’ve created one Swoosh, it comes down to the incredibly complex art of Control-C copy. Then Control-V paste, paste, paste. Bonus points for anyone that manages to wrap a couple of Swooshes around the first letter of a company name. It’s not every day you see that kind of skill. Well, actually, it is. Every bloody day.

Overcoming Adversity: One-legged Pointy Man

One Legged Pointy ManDon’t know how this poor guy lost a leg, but lose a leg he did. Replaced with jabby shish kabob skewers, looks like he lost his hands too. Pointy gets the Hall of Fame nod for being adaptable to almost every design theme that requires a human figure, particularly in the sports categories. We can bend him, twist him and skew him (for motion doncha know) in soccer, hockey and football logos. Try to keep inflatable balls away from the pointy arms though. Lest we think that Pointy is but a mindless jock restricted to athletics, keep this in mind – he can dress himself in a Swoosh for more hi-tech and brainy themed logos. Can’t be easy either – hopping from logo to logo – and despite his decidedly non-bipedal nature, Pointy Man is a case study in true adaptability.

Team Spirt Award: Synchronized One-legged Pointy Men

Logo Hall of Fame: Synchronized Pointy MenIt might have been a lonely existence for Pointy if it weren’t for other little one-legged guys who meet regularly for synchronized design events. Probably pretty carefully though, with all those jabby little arms. To showcase a community vibe, Formation logoPointy and his friends can be found in all sorts of configurations but they’re especially fond of half-circular and circular formations. These look really nice sitting on top of centered typography. Honorable mention too for the diverse nature of their group, which boasts Pointy Men of every color imaginable. Yeah, we went there.

Honorable mention: Swish Man

Logo Hall of Fame: Swish ManDespite having all his limbs, Swish Man is slightly less adaptable than Pointy, and is usually benched until a logo calls for some sort of human movement. Running, walking, even riding a bike, it’s all good. Swish doesn’t have any hands, or feet for that matter, but his arms and legs can be rotated into a large variety of positions for the appearance of more, or less, speediness. Alas, Swish Man is a solo player, as the introduction of others will leave any logo looking like a jumble of broken Saturn Rings. Which when you get right down to it, is exactly what he’s made from.

Best In Class: The Ubuntu Widget

Logo Hall of Fame Ubuntu widgetIf we could only pick one logo for induction into the Hall of Fame, the wonderful little Ubuntu logo would be it. Or rather, one of the three widgets that makes up the Ubuntu logo, originally developed for the open source operating system of the same name. Supposed to represent a birds-eye view of a little dude, complete with round head and out-stretched arms, the Ubuntu Widget presents a cornucopia of graphic possibilities. Community logo? Check. Communication logo? Check. Sports logo? Bit of a stretch, but okay, check that one off too. The Ubuntu Widget tends to travel in packs of three, but flocks of four (right) and even five have been spotted. Flock of 4 UbuntusThe outstretched arms can be joined to indicate all sorts of community and network symbolism, the size of your community or network only restricted by number of widgets you can squeeze into a circle. The Ubuntu widget is probably one of the most cribbed, copied and bootlegged logos of all time, and wins our Best of Class hands down. It’s also the hardest working logo in our Hall of Fame and we’ve had to develop several new Ubuntu categories to celebrate how influential this little guy has become. To whit:

Kumbia Huggy Ubuntus

Logo Hall of Fame: Hugging UbuntusWhat says “kumbia” more than a bunch of Unbutu Widgets? How about a whole bunch of Ubuntu widgets hugging themselves rotten. This huggy version of the standard Ubuntu can usually be huggy logofound in church, day-care center and support group logos throughout the known Universe (probably a few in the not-so-known Universe as well). Group hugs are favored but one-on-one variants can be found in their natural habitat, the community-care business card. While not technically Ubuntus, we’ve had to widen this category to include some pointy-handed hybrids as a runner-up. That’s okay, because nothing says “we care” more than a Huggy Ubuntu, pointy-handed or not.

Esther Williams Swimming Ubuntus

Logo Hall of Fame: Swimming UbuntusSome of you won’t know who Esther Williams is. This link will tell you, and you’ll quickly understand why we named this category after her. Think synchronized swimming. Birds eye view. You can almost hear the water splashing. Swirly Swiming UnbutusVery similar to the Huggy, this logo can often been seen at gigs for day care, school and other community based groups. Lot of internet companies too. For additional ‘swirly’ goodness, the Swimming Ubuntus are often featured with alternating colors.

Fred Astaire Dancing Ubuntus

Logo Hall of Fame: Dancing UbuntusEven remembers Fred, right? Kay, then you’ll understand the reference. Nothing sez “fun, fun, fun” like a chorus of twinkle-toed Ubuntus tripping the light fantastic. Might be to that infernal “birdy dance” though. You know, that stupid tune that your Grandma insists you dance with her to, usually at your cousin’s wedding. Suffering from an “Achy Breaky Heart”? No problem. The Dancing Ubuntus have you covered. There are several versions of this approach in circulation, but most are a variation on three or four dancing partners, doing the “doh-see-doh”, as seen from above.

Joe Namath Late Quarter Huddle Ubuntus

Logo Hall of Fame: Quaterback UbuntusIf your logo is a brain trust kinda outfit. there ain’t anything that illustrates putting heads together more than the Late Quarter Huddle Ubuntu. Sort of a backwards version of the logo proper, these treatments combine the community theme of the original, with an added dose of “ain’t we smart” symbolism. Can be found in either solid or mixed colors. Joomla colored quaterback ubuntuYou know, that “diversity” thing. There’s been a recent outbreak of Quaterback Ubuntus featuring Joomla colors cause nothing speaks of interactivity more than red, green, orange and blue. Speaking about Joomla, that design gets a class all its own.

Best of Show: The Overlapping, Intlerlinking, Joomla Rings

Logo Hall of Fame: The joomlaWith all of its intertlinked goodness, the Joomla logo symbolizes the open-source content management system (CMS) of the same name. The Joomla represents all sorts of wonderful connectivity, and its little intertwined people have been a source of inspiration for many would-be designers the world over. Let’s face it. The original rocks (right). joomla logo properBut who needs original when we can crib the concept, tweak it to fit our needs, stopping only to figure out what artwork layer goes under, and what layer goes over. The Overlapping Joomla comes in all sorts of configurations. from circles, to elipses and Quasi-Ubuntus and has been spotted in threesomes, foursomes and moresomes. joomla shiny ringsMany Joomlas still feature their native colors because as we’ve mentioned, nothing speaks of interactivity more than red, green, orange and blue. How much as the Joomla logo been ripped on, cribbed and bootlegged? Dunno, but it’s a lot. Cause a lot of companies need logos that scream co-operation and connectivity, and nothing screams that like this little puppy.

And there you have it. This year’s inductions into our weird little Hall of Fame. And like most Hall of Fames, (think hockey, basketball and football sweaters) once something’s been included, the bloody thing should be retired. As all of these logo concepts, save the originals, should be too.

Postscript:

All of the artwork and graphic elements above are made up (except the Ubuntu and Joomla logos – they’re real), thrown together to illustrate this post or sadly, taken from our Morgue Files. Any similarity to actual logos, living or dead, is purely coincidental. But if any look like yours, you have our apologies. And our sympathies.

Update:

This post was live for about three minutes when someone pointed me in the direction of this web page. Illustrates the point about the Ubuntu logo nicely methinks.

HMR website

 

 

 

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17 Comments to “Hall of Fame for the most used, abused & overdone approaches to designing a logo”

  1. Mike says:

    To be fair I don’t think that your portfolio contains work that is far greater in standard than the site you have belittled. No body like arrogance but usually the arrogant ones put others down to try and build themselves up. I think respecting the work of other designers is important but I do agree with you that your examples of the logo symbols are bad but I have seen better designers make good use of such themes.

  2. Steve Douglas says:

    Hey Mike. Thanks for the comment. Not sure what site you think I’m belittling – hopefully neither Joomla or Ubuntu as that certainly wasn’t my intention. I linked to these sites to show the logos being discussed in context. I quite like the Ubuntu and Joomala logos, especially the mark for Joomla, and was attempting to illustrate how often these works are either knocked-off, or incorporated into derivative work which is then knocked-off. To be honest, I wasn’t terribly happy with the post myself, and unsure if I made my point clearly, or concisely enough. Looks like I didn’t. Hopefully, this comment will do just that.

    I didn’t make any statement about the website pictured one way or another, and rather than “belittling” anyone, I only used the example to illustrate the “influence” of the Ubuntu logo. I still think it does that quite nicely. In terms of being arrogant, and while it’s quite possible (I’ve been called worse), I’m sorry you feel that way and I’m a little unsure how this particular post would lead you to that conclusion. To avoid “putting someone down” I created my own versions of knocked-off logos (some based on actual examples), rather than hold anybody up to scrutiny on a personal level. If you believe I did, and as this wasn’t my intention, perhaps I failed there too.

    Whether our work is better, or worse, than anyone else isn’t terribly germane to the accuracy of the points I made in the post upstairs, but your opinion is certainly welcome.

  3. Mohammad Fuaadh says:

    Nice post, you can see these logos in nearly every logo contest now. I can point the contest holders to this page. Thanks

  4. Ironically, the Joomla logo was crowdsourced at spec from amongst its own community, which meant earlier (non-final) editions of it ended up with the Pointy Man and Swish Man from other designers than the one responsible for the final artwork.

    I do believe the logo was at the Pointy Man or Swish Man stage when the final colours were discussed / posted / iterated on into what has become the Joomla logo.

    References here:
    http://forum.joomla.org/viewto.....326#p26326
    http://forum.joomla.org/viewto.....038;t=8648 (first assent of a copyright issue)

    Joomla, it seems, is one of the few crowdsourced /spec-work logos to pass into an enforceable trademark. Still a little unsure how that is possible considering there were other artists involved meaning the final logo is a derivative knock-off work.

    • Steve Douglas says:

      @ Lawrence. Very interesting info. Thanks for sharing (as well as passing on the links). It’s always fascinating to learn the back-story of a logo.

  5. [...] with a “bulls eye”, 50 with shiny orbs with their own company letter, and the list goes on and on and on and on and [...]

  6. Johnny says:

    I had a great laugh. What an awesome and true article!

  7. [...] – 10 Common Mistakes in Logo Design – 3 Types of Logos – Logo Inspiration & great examples – Overused Logos – Boring “Green” Logos – Logo Design [...]

  8. em says:

    So are we allowed to mention the example from your own portfolio?

    http://www.thelogofactory.com/.....spring.png

  9. [...] their creativity. They did this with a peculiar logo-thing that looks like some watercolour pointy man putting another pointy man into the boot of a car. Excellent. Very creative, if a little sinister. [...]

  10. strategybase says:

    “Our staff understands that your logo is the spark plug of your branding engine and you can’t afford to have a poorly designed one.”

    - from The Logo Factory’s front page.

    this is a truly misleading perspective regarding brand development. do you think Verizon’s godforesaken logo drives their brand?

    these days, a logo could be argued to be almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things of certain industry segments. i say this and i make my living partly designing logos. i don’t BS my clients.

    this sort of rhetoric is just regurgitated sales slogans from the 50s and 60s.

    “Hey kids, you know a clever logo can really take our business to the next level. Why not play it safe and get a logo that really outshines the competition? – Limited time, only $59″

    meh.

    • Steve Douglas says:

      @ Strategy base – Thanks for the comment. Not really much to do with the post upstairs, but sorry that you found my awkward metaphorical prose so offensive. While you may disagree, calling it ‘misleading’ is a bit of a stretch. What I was getting at is that a logo isn’t ‘everything’ that makes up a brand, but a vital part nonetheless. I still think the spark plug’ analogy is pretty sound and hardly an attempt to BS anyone.

  11. [...] swooshes, pointy men and huggers. Steve Douglas of the Logo Factory beautifully highlighted this phenomenon in this blog post. I’m still thinking “face” here so let’s say your logo was a criminal in a police lineup, [...]

  12. Husac says:

    What i like most is the end of the post, where one of the advertiser’s logo uses the The Ubuntu Widget….:))
    Just great!

  13. David says:

    Please check out my logo, its a great derivative !! :)

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