I hate this logo

gillo's picture

I've been working for this company for a year and a half. I hate their logo. I'm really looking for a good reason to prove to my boss that the logo is ugly and that changing it won't hurt the branding of the company. My boss is the wife of the company founder. She and I both have fine arts educations, not design. She drew the logo and is very possessive of it. I think the fish is ugly and the free font "Addcityboy," is not only ugly, but impractical as it becomes unreadable at a not-so-small size. Here is a progression of the logo since I have been working here:

a. The official logo when I arrived
b. The alternate logo when I arrived. Used mainly in print.
c. The logo appearing on the homepage when I arrived.
d. My first attempt at shaving some of the crap off the logo
e. The fish would fit nicely with the slant of the letters if only it was flipped over and rotated a bit. That is not allowed. Precious fish must remain unadulterated.
f. I was able to shave off a little more excess.
g. we hired this outside marketing/ecommerce software making company to build us a new website and help us with branding. They made the letters dimensional and then dropped them on to of the flat fish in order to save space which, imo, looks totally awkward. This is how the logo looks now at the to of our website.
h. This is how it will look when the brand new fancy site is launched (if it is launched, the company we hired has been kind of a disappointment). They wanted to update the look by making it more web 2.0, thus the shadows and gradients. How can they say it is more web 2.0 when they've removed the lighter yellowish green- arguably the most web 2.0 color on the web?
i. My suggestion for web 2.0 -izing the logo.

Actually, I'd really rather scrap the whole thing. By the way, any guesses at what the company does? In addition to the logo, I think the company name is somewhat inappropriate and misleading, but I'm not going to get into that.

Please tell me if I'm crazy and the logo looks fine, or if I'm right and rethinking the branding strategy might be a good idea.


Tintin81's picture

I think the company name is great! It's highly memorable and - provided they are really focussing on *water* sports and not rock climbing - it should work very well. What else could you do but use a green fish in the logo? The way you did that looks great to me!

Designer Hamburg

lapiak's picture

You're not crazy. That's a horrible logo, and it needs to be scrapped or improved dramatically. Colors and type need to be changed, and that shark needs to be improved.

I had the same situation in a print shop that I worked for one summer. The owner didn't want to go through another logo change, and I proposed a digitized version of their original 1920 logo (amazing mark that was originally drawn and was in red and black, and looked great when I converted it to vector), but sadly, today it remains an ugly rainbow buffalo in distorted type (forgot the name of the typeface they used, but it was bad).

gillo's picture

except that we sell bikes

BruceS63's picture

You sell bikes?! The logo and name don't indicate that at all. I would've guessed kayaks. It is a great name, as pointed out above, but give people a clue as to what you do. That fish needs a bicycle! Oh, wait....

smongey's picture


litera's picture

To tell you the truth, logo did improve a lot. If you sell bikes I think you will have to change type because I think a VERY similar type is used in many many sport equipment companies (Gary Fisher for instance). It's different but not too much.

Using a bold typeface may not necessarily be bad since people associate it with sports because many companies use it, but it should be distinct enough.

Web 2.0 logo for a company that doesn't provide web 2.0 services to on-line communities etc. doesn't really make any sense to me. I'd rather go with a regular logo and then colour upgrade it with gradients/shadows/etc. if really needed.

If you're a bike reseller I'd rather focus on that. A shark in the logo may be quite ok, since it's agile, aggressive and powerful. But not the one that you're using right now because it's rather cartoonish.

Type in logos from A-F is very bad with various slants etc. G and F seem the only ones that may be usable.

Some simple and fast suggestions:

  • I'd make all letters in Greenfish of the same size, without emphasizing the G.
  • in this case "adventure sports" will have to be adjusted
  • create a new shark that would be more suitable for a logo and more powerful and adventurous that this cartoonish one
  • discard the colour at first and work from BW examples
dezcom's picture

If your boss drew the thing with her own creative hands and she is the wife of the founder, I think you have a monumental task of persuasion ahead of you.
You are right though, it is an unbelievable piece of crap and surely is a detriment to business!
Try going for an outside design consultant with an unbiased opinion who can site marketing data. This will be a tough sell for you alone in your position.


gillo's picture

Thanks so much for all your comments! I've been looking at this thing for so long that sometimes I begin to think maybe it's not so bad. Then every time I try to incorporate it into any sort of layout I just hate it. The fish is the result of compounding the founder's name plus his wife's former name. I think it's kind of clever. I think the financing partner contributed the "adventure" part, hoping to spice it up a bit. When I first came across the company I thought maybe they led some kind of wilderness fishing trips. I guess mountain biking can be an adventure, but I don't think most of what we sell really reflects that. The word Bikes was excluded from the title because the founder aspires to be the next Dicks Sporting Goods, eventually moving beyond just bikes. Really I think our branding problems stem directly from the wishy-washy business plan, or complete lack of a business plan, which is most frustrating, but I was hired to make pictures, so who am I to question their strategies? Unfortunately, it's very difficult to produce effective graphics when one doesn't know exactly whom one is marketing to or what one is supposed to be representing. I could vent for pages and pages, but I'll spare you! Not sure how I'll convince the boss- I guess outside consulting would be the only way, but we are reluctant even to pay $30 for a decent font, I can't see anyone agreeing to pay an outside consultant!

Miss Tiffany's picture

As a moderator I should remind you that Google loves Typophile and all the words you are typing are being cached even as we speak. If you don't want your boss to find this, even accidentally, you might want to stick to non-specific words. On the other hand, if you don't mind, then don't mind me.

gillo's picture

Thanks-I had considered that, but forgot when I started ranting. Perhaps I'll try to edit a bit!

gillo's picture

ack! editing doesn't so much edit as repost! Oh well, I guess I stand behind my opinions, and if this thread is found I will have plenty of unbiased opinions to back me up! Hoping to be moving on in a few months anyway...

aluminum's picture

"My boss is the wife of the company founder."
"She drew the logo"
"we sell bikes"

Might be easier to start looking for a new job. ;o)

As long as the company name remains, I'd say you're best off just making the logo small and live with it.

As you point out, the real issue is that you sell bikes, and this logo and corporate name is rather confusing given that fact. Ultimately, it appears the company could benefit from a total rebranding from the ground up including name.

Cari's picture

If you do get them to redesign you'll win diplomat of the year. And we just started 2008 so you can tote that badge for a long time yet!

dberlow's picture

"...except that we sell bikes"
Do the fish where breathing apparatus or do the bikes go underwater?

oprion's picture

A fish on wheels!

Personal Art and Design Portal of Ivan Gulkov

dezcom's picture

Give a woman a fish and she will eat for one day; teach a woman to fish and she will sell bicycles.


inde's picture

"Give a woman a fish and she will eat for one day; teach a woman to fish and she will sell bicycles."

i laughed the hell out of this one! :) great one ;)

stick a bike to the fish? :O

Im just kidding, look, it is not necessary the logo to present exactly what the content of the company is, unless it is that it stays a logotype with no mark (if you understand me) in this situation the evolution of the company has led to a logo that i agree that it is misleading.

If you see no intention of changing or altering the logo whatsoever, dont do it! you work there man, i wouldnt care, i design logos and logotypes and there i can do whatever i want (not according to the clients but i get along fine convincing) id say, forget it ;)

jupiterboy's picture

…and a fish on a bicycle is such a classic image.

dunk's picture

Ouch... that really is an ugly logo and you have my sympathies.
My own opinion is that it's never going to work while it has that ugly shark associated with it. Like someone else suggested, trash the cartoon and work on something a little more complimentary to the business, same goes for the font. The whole thing just feels rather cheap. But I guess there's not a whole lot you can do about it other than feel smug in the knowledge that we all think it looks crap as well. My background was in Fine Art too. Having flicked through more artist friends' websites than I care to remember I'm not ashamed to tell you with some certainty that studying fine art doesn't automatically qualify you as a designer! That's not an insult of your own talents by the way!

nerdski's picture

I wanna see it without the black stroke, but it's come a long way.

lore's picture

Shark? Where? I can't see a shark.
I just see a fish with bad teeth and an eye problem. And it's green. So where is the association with sharks? It's just a fish trying to look intimidating and winking at you at the same time. Come on, it can't be that difficult to draw a better fish. Have you tried it? I agree with your critics but just shaving it's not enough, you have to come up with something to replace the existing one, and one your boss won't have any objections to.
Having said that, it's clear to me that it's a taste issue. A lot of people love this kind of grotesque cartoonish stuff. There's nothing you can do about it. It's their taste and they don't find anything wrong with that.

So is a crusade worth it? Has your boss shown at least some flexibility or will to make changes (I mean radical changes)? I doubt it. I went through something similar. My boss was incredibly proud of his creation, which everyone else thought was monstrous. Results: I quit. Moved on. No big deal.

Good luck, you have my sympathy.

adnix's picture

Illustration Class had a tutorial on a fish logo. In no way am I telling you to copy this logo, it's just for reference and to show the boss what a cool, edgy fish logo can look like.

Also check out the book Identity Crisis by Jeff Fisher.


ebensorkin's picture

I laughed heartily at this thread. I am sorry about the situation.

If they want to grow the biz to be the next Dick's they will need to re-brand. But the if & when & how will probably not be at your choosing.

Keep in mind your reasons for wanting to change it ( it makes me crazy ) is not a legitimate business reason. If it can be shown that there is a good business case they might bite. But MANY a small business stays small because of an inability to separate the personal ( I made that, I am used to it ) from business thinking. And some folks are phobic about this 'marketing stuff' and just get irrational when confronted.

Listen to Lore she makes sense.

Scott Leyes's picture

I've got a similar issue where I work -- not that I hate the existing logo, but i know it could be so much better (given that we are a creative firm), and work better in hundreds of ways, but it's OUR LOGO - our brand is out there, and changing it (even a little) means going against years of built-up equity.

I spend a lot of time working on ways of presenting our logo in a unique way - illustratively, cropping, ghosting, reflecting, etc. etc... makes it seem much fresher without the loss of what it is.

IMHO, the only place a logo NEEDS to be used "as is" is in a trademark application; once it's set, play with it!

gillo's picture

That we can't afford to throw away all of our "built up equity" is essentially what my boss tells me whenever I try to mess with the logo. I usually don't push the issue, though because I have a feeling the real issue has more to do with her pride in little fishy. I can't believe that that fish has built up that much equity anyway; the company started in 2003 or so, and by the time I got there they'd adopted the ugly fish for some materials, but the top of their website still had an entirely different fish and typeface combo. Some of our shipping pouches had that old fish combo until at least a month or so ago. I can hardly believe that most of our customers identify with the fish in any meaningful way (evidence being that very few people buy any of our branded merchandise), or wouldn't recognize the company if it adopted another fish. But I don't have any sort of marketing or branding credentials, so any discussion would end up: "well I think this" "Well I think you're wrong," and she, being the boss, would end the conversation, and I, being rather non-confrontational, would drop the issue, and then at some point, after having kept all my opinions bottled up inside, would become frustrated and start ranting in a somewhat obscure forum on a typography website that I had come across while trying to find legitimate excuse for why we should not use the font "AddCityBoy" to represent our company, but that I had also come across in the past, and had bookmarked in my del.icio.us links, and had enjoyed reading very much, expanding my meager knowledge of typography, and in which I would be comforted by the good citizens (netizens?), by their reassuring disapproval of that which had caused my frustrations.

Really, I'm hoping to be doing some graduate studies in in the Fall, so I just have to hold out until then. I don't see them changing the logo any time soon, but perhaps if they can stay afloat despite the logo, someday they will become big enough to hire a consultant who will have the authority to tell them how ugly their logo is. Of course, by that time it probably will have gained some equity, but I'll be long gone by then, so won't have to worry about it!

@dunk I like to think that my Fine Arts extends to a modest degree toward illustration, but I acknowledge my shortcoming as a designer. That said, I think (and I think she agrees) my graphics are much nicer than those of my boss. And getting better all the time! Slowly, but surely...

aluminum's picture

"evidence being that very few people buy any of our branded merchandise"

Well, that's certainly some interesting data that helps make your case.

LogoMotives's picture

adnix - Thanks for the mention of my book (Your post just showed up in a Google search!) - J.

Jeff Fisher | Engineer of Creative Identity | Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

eeblet's picture

Nice fish, mean fish
Red fish, green fish

I would not put it on a box
I would not change it to a fox
I would not put it on a shirt
I would cover it with dirt

That said - you did a nice job at polishing a petrified turd.

One suggestion is that you do some user testing - but some students lunch, show them the fish and ask them to write adjectives they think of. Or something like that. Get the owners to sign off on it first - it might show them the light.

Good luck!

ebensorkin's picture

Nice to see you back on typophile Beth!

eeblet's picture

Heh, thanks Eben. It's really good to be back - there are so many great designers here, it's like being in art school. (And it's more fun than online scrabble.)

Live in the Bay Area? Coming soon: screamsorbet.com

logosam's picture

I think this is your best chance. Update the mark with a sports/internet/mountainbike face like beast machines, or gunship, or cyborg 45. keep the fish – which is good and does have some equity, and put a mountain bike tire behind it to make it topical.
It's just an update and no-one's ego has to get bruised.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

My boss is the wife of the company founder.

You will never get this person to change her mind... Start looking for a new job. You will be much happier afterwards, believe me.

[EDIT] She drew the logo and is very possessive of it.

That alone should tell you something... Choose your battles.

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