Design Fails: 5 Examples of Marketing Creatives Gone Wrong

A design is the culmination of all your hard work. You may have done the research, tested the product, and done all sorts of other evaluations like that. But there are so many ways that things could go south when all those efforts are brought to life through a design. It could be packaging, a social media post, a poster, or any such marketing creative a critical assessment of the design is required.  

But still, some fall through the cracks and become a laughing matter. And what we’re going to do through this blog is to provide you with a small dose of laughter and humor during a busy day with design fails. Buckle up, while we take you through some widely known design fails that’ll have you going, “What on Earth were they thinking?” 

Let’s get started!

1. Design Fails: Animal Planet Logo

This logo design is the one that Animal Planet used from the years 2008-2018. This version is considered to be a typographical mess by logo experts. Since then they’ve revised it to an even worse logo design but let’s save that for a later time. Let’s talk about this rendition for now. 

The more you look at it to make some sort of sense, the more you realize there’s no logic behind the design.

Here is a list of problems with this logo design and why it ranks as one of the known design fails of the logo world. 

Problems
  1. Irregular font sizes

The Animal Planet logo design suffers from irregular font sizes, resulting in a lack of visual harmony and cohesion. The fact that they’ve manually adjusted some of the individual letters to fit some sort of imaginary box. 

  1. The sideways “M”

The sideways “M” disrupts the logo’s overall flow and can confuse viewers. Is it a symbol? Does it have a meaning? These kinds of questions usually run through the minds of viewers as they try to decode your logo. If they’re met with confusion and nonsense they will question your logo design along with your brand. 

  1. The drop cap “A”

Additionally, the drop cap “A” feels out of place and fails to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the design, giving rise to readability issues. Again, this approach could be taken to make the letters fit an imaginary grid.

These issues compromise the logo’s legibility as well as aesthetic appeal, potentially diminishing its effectiveness in conveying the brand identity and message to its audience.

Solutions

Follow typography rules to a T. Don’t fit your idea into just something and try to come up with a logo design. Follow basic principles of design and logo composition making sure that readability, legibility, and cohesivity are given proper attention. What those rules do is that they help turn out designs that are pleasing to the eye. 

Let’s look at the next one on our list of design fails. 

2. Design Fails: Pepsi x Aape Advertisement

Pepsi is a well-loved brand but has been known for a few controversial design choices in the past. One of those is when they teamed up with Aape a branch of the streetwear label BAPE (Bathing Ape). 

During this collaboration, an OOH advert was created where the product and the collaboration details were showcased. One look at it and you can see that the word “AAPE” doesn’t look right. The A looks like an R at first glance and that’s not a nice word for a big brand like Pepsi to be associated with. 

Let’s look closer at the problems here. 

Problems
  1. Using the Pepsi font for the word Aape

On the product, you can see that they’ve used the actual logo for the Aape brand.

The problem is why the marketing team and the designers chose to go with the Pepsi font for the rest of the advertisement without preserving the identity of the Aape logo. 

  1. No one detected the typographical issue.

The fact that it went unnoticed how the decorative serif at the top of the A made it look more like R is surprising. This begs the question if the design was thoroughly reviewed at all. 

The reason for a lot of design fails is oversight. The result of such oversights is that your brand could be perceived as negligent and tone-deaf. It doesn’t bode well with consumers and hundreds and thousands of Dollars are wasted on advertisements and in some cases on the product itself when such oversights happen.

Solutions

Be sure to refrain from making unnecessary changes to perfectly fine logos in hopes of accomplishing marketing goals. Because there’s a chance it could go wrong and you end up on design fails lists like this one. 

And always have experts in design proofread and quality check your marketing creatives or you end up with no ROI. 

With that we’re moving on to the next example on our design fails list. 

3. Design Fails: Kleenex Spiderman Tissue Box Design

Kleenex is a facial tissue brand that has been around for some time. Their product comes in tissue boxes of various sizes. And one of the designs that they created for these tissue boxes just didn’t work out. 

The Spiderman-themed tissue box is one of the top design fails when it comes to product packaging and it slightly leans on the funny side. 

Let’s dissect the problems here:

Problems 
  1. Wrong placement.

When it comes to print designs for packaged products like this, designers prefer working on a die-cut template. Working on this template ensures that you’re aware of where different elements appear. 

But in this case, we’re not sure how they missed the Spiderman figures placement. A properly designed mock-up would’ve brought the issue to light but we aren’t exactly sure how the design process worked for this particular tissue box design.  

  1. Bad brand image

This would most definitely result in people assuming the worst about your brand. They would conclude that this brand needed to be more professional. In this instance as well, it makes you wonder if the design was thoroughly reviewed.  

True it may be just a tissue brand but this is something that could make people laugh. And big or small, design fails contribute to bad brand perceptions. And you want to avoid that at all costs. 

Solutions

Always work with professional designers who know what they’re doing. They would know where to place certain elements so that they don’t end up looking bad once printed and assembled. Also, a good designer would provide a mockup of the design, especially for product packaging. 

Always request a mockup even if they don’t provide you with one, because that’s the closest rendition of the finished work you’ll see before it’s printed in bulk. Mockups can avoid a lot of design fails.

Let’s move ahead to the next one on this list of design fails. 

4. Design Fails: Black & Gold Cans

Black & Gold is a manufacturer of different kitchen and food products. Looking at their design fail will make you take a double-take to see which is which.

This design fail is dangerous and could even lead to a very bad turn of events. It could even potentially give way to lawsuits. Imagine in a rush using the Fly & Insect Killer spray on your cupcake tray instead of the cooking spray!

Let’s further look at the problems:

Problems
  1. No product differentiation

Product differentiation is extremely important under normal circumstances. But when you make products that are edible for humans and poisonous for animals, product differentiation is common sense. 

And we always recommend brands to be diverse in terms of design in such cases. 

It’s not that difficult to change the design up a bit more so that they don’t get mixed up and used interchangeably. 

Even if the brand color needed to be the same there are plenty of other design options to choose from to make a product different. 

It’s at times like this that consistency in brand identity can be a bane. Of course, consistency helps brand awareness and boosts your brand but you have to know where consistency is crucial. Because where product differentiation is concerned, brand identity could afford to be slightly diverse. 

This just goes to show how lazy their designers are and how unbothered the marketing team is about making products safe. 

Solutions

Take time to make your packaging design different. It shows consumers that you’ve put in a lot of work to make products special. And most importantly make sure to make packaging designs as diverse as possible if you have footprints in different industries. 

You can differentiate by switching up colors for different product lines, making layout and font changes to the wording, or even using different types of custom illustrations. All these can be great ways to differentiate products and packaging designs. 

With that let’s move ahead to the fifth and final one on this list of design fails.

5. Design Fails: Deserves to Die Book Cover

Lisa Jackson is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. Her book “Deserves to Die” is an interesting psychological thriller. All is well inside the contents of the book. But the book cover design will make you think how it was approved as fine. 

Let’s jump in to look at the problem more clearly.

Problems
  1. Typography oversight.

The book cover currently reads like “Lisa Jackson Deserves to Die”, which is pretty horrific. 

The fact that the author’s name and the book title are in the same font aggravates this issue. A good understanding of typography and font pairing would’ve helped avoid this design fail.

  1. Lack of clear visual hierarchy. 

The design could definitely benefit from a clearer visual hierarchy

Given that the book’s title is “Deserves to Die”, the book cover designer should not have placed the author’s name just above it. 

Also, making the author’s name so big will draw more attention to that as the primary visual cue. The title is then the secondary attraction. This flow makes you read it as “Lisa Jackson Deserves to Die”.

The concept of using color for visual hierarchy could’ve been used here as both the author’s name and the title are almost the same color. 

Readers would pick up the book just out of curiosity but this level of oversight isn’t great for sales. 

Solutions

To avoid typography errors and oversight you need to either get a good knowledge of typography or use a designer or a design service that is proven to be reliable and good. 

Another solution is to make sure you pass early drafts of your work to as many trustworthy people as possible for a review and get their opinions. This will help avoid so many design fails.

Want to Avoid Design Fails? 

As we just looked at design fails can do much damage to your brand’s reputation and it can be quite costly. Imagine having to reproduce some of these marketing creatives and bear double the cost!

Paying more attention to the context in which the design would appear, a proper understanding of the consumer, and a thorough review of the designs are a few of the solutions that would help avoid such design fails. 

Studies show that 73% of companies would invest in graphic design to make sure they stand out from their competition. 

So, another solution to avoid such design fails is to hire professional graphic designers. And not just graphic designers but those with a quality-checking system within the design process. We know for sure, that most unlimited graphic design services have such quality checks in place. 

So avoid design fails and choose wisely who you entrust your designs to. 

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