Sometimes logos don’t say what we think

Last April, London design outfit FHD announced with some pride that they would be reponsible for the logo design and rebranding of the UK’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) – a division of the UK Treasury. The main thrust of the OGC is “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”. All very lofty stuff and requiring, one assumes, a similarly lofty logo.

Catherine Hastings, director of communications at the OGC, was equally enthused – “We were impressed with the integrated approach FHD had to offer, which combined expertise in workings of government.” Usual PR baffle-speak when a new logo is being designed and normally, not particularly noteworthy. Alas, when the logo was presented to OGC staff, it didn’t take them long to realize that there was more to the simple text design than originally met the eye.

OGC logo design - a little more than meets the eye

The design had already been printed on a variety of promotional items, heralding the design’s large scale release, when OCG staffers saw the hidden graphic in the logo (hint: tilt your head to the left to view the design). Amazingly, even after ‘discovering’ the ahm, enthusiastic character hidden in the design, the OGC intends to roll out the logo anyway. According to the UK Register, a spokesman had this to say

“The OGC is currently overhauling the design of its corporate identity materials following a new strategy and forward direction. As part of this, the OGC has been developing a new visual identity, one aspect of which is a new logo. The proposed version, which you have sent over, has been shared with staff, and is now going through final technical stages. It is true that it caused a few titters among some staff when viewed on its side, but on consideration we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters ‘OGC’ – and is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on government spend. The new identity has been extremely well received, as it presents a very clean, uncluttered and modern identity.”

Wow. A firm grip indeed. This logo is destined to cause UK teenagers fits of laughter for years to come. For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time that we’ve talked about logo mangled visual metaphors. Nor, I suppose, will it be the last. Guess what makes this particular example is that the graphic ‘whoopsie’ was discovered before a wide launch and the client decided to bravely soldier on. For what it’s worth, see below for a few more logos that are more than what they seem. For a more, ahm, in-depth (couldn’t help myself) look on how logos run the risk of representing something completely different than originally intended, see our when logos go bad article in the library.

Logos that are more than they seem

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