Amateur logo design?


I got a question from Noël Gilkey in my post about appropriate logo design and the NFLs Houston Texan’s logo. He thought the Texan’s logo looked, well…“odd.” When the Texans first unveiled the logo I noticed several unfortunate design characteristics which professional designers would call “mistakes.” And a few weeks later as they began to apply it to the myriad of applications that are necessary I noticed that the logo facing left looked odd compared to the version facing right (the one unveiled as the official logo). I wasn’t sure it would make much difference to the public but now it’s clear others notice it too.

So why does it look odd? Is it “backwards?” Many logos have a version facing in the opposite direction from the “main” logo – but they don’t look odd. It’s evidence of amateur design. A rookie mistake. A lack of attention to detail.

The reason is simple but not obvious to most people.

The logo facing left looks odd because the color of the horn and the color surrounding the eye changes from the official version facing right. That doesn’t make any sense to our eye. If we view the bull’s head straight on should the left half be red or blue? It’s confusing. And any confusion is a negative attribute for a logo symbol.

We don’t want to have to spend any time thinking about a logo design to figure it out, and it should never introduce any confusion. Clarity should be a priority. I wouldn’t put the Texan’s logo on the Injured Reserve list but it’s definitely not playing at full speed.

Consistency in visual identity breeds familiarity.

A logo, as the cornerstone of a visual identity, should be recognized immediately and communicate something – something intended, without any need for analysis or explanation. And certainly without any necessary excuses. It should be strategic. That’s how it adds value.

Inconsistency in visual identity breeds confusion.

But when amateurs design logos, even if they make it look slick, they often lack a strategic approach. But the team has to live with the oddities year in and year out.

The fan below painted the left side of his face blue and compared to the logo beside him, did he paint his face wrong?


Team Mascot adds to the confusion.

Is that the Texan’s Team Mascot on the left below or just a generic bull?


The Texan’s team mascot has a face that’s all blue. And it has white horns instead of blue or red. Not only that, where’s the star eye? This introduces a third version of the logo design diluting the impact and exclusiveness it could have. This confusion dilutes the distinctiveness of the Texan’s intellectual property and diminishes its value. The Texan’s logo is therefore a neglected asset at worst and an under-utilized asset at best. Evidence of not only amateur logo design but also amateur brand management.

These subtle mistakes are easy to avoid but quite common among amateurs. And avoiding them will strengthen the asset. How important are strong assets in a competitive marketplace?

Don’t try to win in the Big Leagues without a full team on the field.


The odds of winning in the NFL with only nine or ten players on the field are very very low. It would be a very risky investment. All organizations can benefit from fully utilizing each of their assets. Let’s put all eleven players on the field. And don’t put injured or handicapped players on the field, make sure each one is healthy. All-Pros even. It makes winning much easier.

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17 Responses to “Amateur logo design?”

  1. Dusty Sadowsky says:

    It is important to know how exactly a company wants to portray itself through the logo, what the logo is for and how it will be used. This greatly influences how a logo looks, and it’s amazing that management seems so often so naïve about that.

  2. Lucile Schimler says:

    There is no shortage of companies to choose from however, you should be aware of the differences among a novice logo designer and a seasoned and PROFESSIONAL logo design organization. There’s a massive difference in between a standard logo and the most effective logo design but a majority of people cannot differentiate between the two, they don’t know how to evaluate them. They simply research for the logo design service and go to the first option which comes in front of them. Your blog posts are educational.

  3. Dolbin87 says:

    These days there are many different ways you could go about obtaining a logo design for your organization. One way that may seem to be the least expensive is the “do it yourself” choice, but this is often the priciest simply because of the time it takes for someone who has no training in logo design to carry out the job. Those people who are tempted to take on the job by themselves always under-estimate the amount of ability required and will also not provide proper consideration of all the nuances of meaning that are possible in symbol design.

  4. Fulenwider says:

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new program in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable info to brand our program. I want you to know you have done a formidable job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

  5. Sven Gredston says:

    All serious businesses ensure that they create their brand image in a nice, impressive and attractive manner. If you don’t create a unique and attractive logo for your business, then your chances of growing your business will be hampered. In fact, not having a memorable, appropriate logo is an obstacle to all efforts to grow your business. A lot of people think that it’s a small design and it plays a small role. So, they end up hiring an amateur and inexperienced designer. A lot of people even use DIY programs to create their own identity even though they have no experience in design communications.
    How foolish is that?

  6. Kealoha21562 says:

    Symbols of Value: Every logo tells a story.

  7. Isadore77286 says:

    The Chicago Cubs have one of the larger fan followings in the game of Baseball but you can’t attribute that to success. They haven’t won the World Series in over a hundred years. What is it about the Cubs that keep the fans coming back, even when there is a decent team in the White Sox across town who have outperformed the Cubs on the field. For the Cubs, the image and logo of the All American (red/white/blue), likable (baby bear mascot), and concentric circles to hypnotize you into forgetting about the game has served them well. The tag line on the Cubs official Website is “It’s a Lifestyle” which is exactly what they have created with their fans.

  8. Tommy O'Harne says:

    Too many company symbols, symbolize nothing. A potential asset wasted, interesting point.

  9. Tauber43578 says:

    you should write more posts.

  10. Lurz says:

    logo design is subtle communication. under the radar.

  11. Carey Ayhens says:

    This is an excellent post! A professionally designed custom logo can be very powerful in representing the company profile, the nature of job they do and the attitude of the company. It helps to build the identity of the company and distinguishes your service from your competitors in the industry. Overall, a good logo is a vital part of a successful business, and much more influential than many people realize. Since individuals are often unaware of the effect logos have on their own decisions, they may also be unaware of the influence a well designed logo will have on their own business. Thank

  12. Rolanda Crist says:

    In the designers defense, we do not normally have full control over the design, sometimes the client is pulling the strings too much. A professional logo designer will make it a key rule to always provide feedback to the client if they are asking for results that might actually push the logo into an amateurish state.

  13. Kory says:

    Effective visual design is not easy to achieve and most people cannot achieve it. And so they pretend it is “not that important” just pick something you “like.” Is your favorite color blue? Then make the logo blue. Why would you want to complicate the process by digging deeper than the superficial? It’s sad. And you’re right it’s an opportunity wasted.

  14. vern_mcfarlane says:

    Everyone thinks they are a designer. Most people are completely naïve about the potential power of visual communication.

  15. RB says:

    I AGREE IT LOOKS ODD. Thanks for pointing out.

  16. ariellecollicott says:

    I’ve learned a lot from your posts and have used them in my classes, wish you’d post more. Thanks.

  17. Darnell says:

    Its amazing how ignorant so many high profile businesses are of their visual presence. Good post.

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