When great design is bad

New York designer Vincent Fileccia has recently undertaken an interesting project I thought worth sharing. In it, he took various iconic consumer business logos and redesigned them using the names of iconic luxury brands.

The results I think are quite neat, check some of them out at the bottom of this post or via the link above.

It also makes you question what constitutes “good design”. Clearly these logos – in their original form – have all been extremely successful, and have made such a dent in public consciousness that you probably have no difficulty identifying them even with the company name absent. And yet, when applied to businesses they don’t “match”, many now seem bland, or generic, or old fashioned.

It may seem obvious to state that the quality of a logo comes from a balance between design and meaning (i.e. what the company actually is, and does). However when you consider how regularly all of us are swayed by design we like, and try to copy it in our own endeavours, it’s apparent how easily we forget this.

And it’s not just the untrained amongst us. Designers themselves unsurprisingly love design, and at any given moment will likely have a certain style or piece or work that recently caught their eye. In such circumstances it’s not inconceivable this influence will be present in their next project, regardless of the thing they’re designing for. This isn’t a symptom of being a bad designer; on the contrary the collection of influences is essential. It’s more a symptom of being human.

Given all this, an effective way to guard against the distorting influence of “design we like” in a process is simple: forced variety. Ensure that, at an early stage in the process, distinct and clashing options are explored.

Although it’s broadly true to say that good design is a methodological process, the fact is that any of us (designers, founders, etc.) can easily rationalise the route we like. You can’t really “prove” that a logo option is right or wrong. Therefore, to de-bias the process, and increase the chances of creating something that fits, rather than an echo of something else, some chaos needs to be injected.

This is not to say that a considered, focused, and gradual approach that many designers favour is wrong. Not remotely. It is merely an insurance policy. Think of it more as a way of refining the brief, rather than answering it.

We are all to some degree locked into our personal patterns of taste and thought. The mistake is to believe we can control them. The smart move is to hedge against them.


Get weekly articles that will enable you to see things others don’t. 

Connect with Alex on Linkedin for daily ideas and discussion


Thank You

Check your inbox for your first mail.