So That’s Why It’s Called Graphic Design

A few years back, the British Office of Government Commerce wanted a new logo for etching on (among other things) mousepads and pens, and paid a graphic design firm over $20,000 to come up with this:

Apparently it never occurred to anyone that mousepads and pens are frequently turned on their sides.

Et voila:

Question to readers: What is the moral of this story?

(Hat tip to our sometime commenter Alan Wexelblat. News article here.)

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21 Responses to “So That’s Why It’s Called Graphic Design”


  1. 1 1 Scott

    The best part is the official response: “…it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend.”

  2. 2 2 clarke ching

    You made my day! Thank you so much for sharing that.

  3. 3 3 Bill

    And what could Johnny v do with five parameters?

  4. 4 4 Ken B

    Somebody made a boner.

  5. 5 5 RPLong

    That reminds me of something that happened while I was in college.

    One of the astronomy professors used to teach her students how to make crop circles. She used it as one of those zany stories that professors often use to keep students entertained while they’re sitting in compulsory “general education” classes.

    Anyway, not surprisingly, suddenly crop circles started appearing in at nearby farms. It caused a bit of a local brouhaha. Newspapers, TV reporters, etc.

    Then one day somebody’s grade-schooler was reading looking at the newspaper and said, “Mommy, why do the crop circles say ‘Joe?’”

    Turns out, if you just tilted your head, the person making the crop circles had signed his name in the crops. Mystery solved. haha. There were a lot of disappointed X-Files fans that year.

  6. 6 6 Martin
  7. 7 7 Dave
  8. 8 8 Alan Wexelblat

    You’re welcome. Someone pointed out that the story is quite old, and I do like Dave’s link. Kerning is *hard*.

    Of course, the lesson I take is the lesson of my profession: look at how things are going to be used in their actual contexts, not just in a prepared presentation or tidy research paper.

  9. 9 9 iceman

    RPLong — sorry I had a hard time getting past this part:
    “That reminds me of something that happened while I was in college.”

  10. 10 10 Luis

    The Wisconsin Tourism Federation (WTF) had to change its name after relentless teasing: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10365240-71.html

  11. 11 11 Ken

    Question to readers: What is the moral of this story?

    I think you said it when you said “Apparently it never occurred to anyone…”. Unintended consequences are a bitch.

  12. 12 12 Ken B

    What is the moral of this story?
    The guy who designed this got 14K for it. The moral is if you work for the government you’ll never be hard up.

  13. 13 13 nobody.really

    Big surprise: a bunch of British bureaucrats had grown tired of their reputations for always having a stiff upper lip….

  14. 14 14 David Wallin

    Not only is the alternate view outrageous, but spending $20,000 for such a logo is wild. I’m opening my own graphic design company. Here, I offer you two free logos for The Big Questions:

    TBQ
    tbq

    Feel free to use either for the discounted rate of $2,000.

  15. 15 15 Thiago

    In the early 70′s the catholic church received this little ditty for the Logo of Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission
    http://relationshaping.com/2009/04/23/the-unholy-blow-job/

  16. 16 16 Phil

    The moral: self-abuse makes one arm longer than the other.

  17. 17 17 Al V.

    I can think of two possible responses:
    - I don’t see anything odd about the OGC logo.
    - Y’all have dirty minds.

  18. 18 18 awp

    Moral:
    Government uses consultants too much and then pays them too much.

  19. 19 19 Vic

    First, Paul Krugman posts the video for “Gangnam Style”.Now, Landsburg posts a X-rated graphic. I wonder what Greg Mankiw has in store for me today.

  20. 20 20 Steve

    Didn’t know working for the British Office of Government Commerce could be so exciting.

  21. 21 21 Lucas

    The lesson here was aptly summarized here http://www.onefoottsunami.com/2011/12/06/thats-just-good-advice/:

    “I like to urge designers to always ask themselves: “Does this logo look like a penis?” The answer has to be a resounding “No”. If there is just a slight hesitation, then it probably does look like a penis.”

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