Sometimes, a bad logo goes big time.
On Friday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba was the subject of a mammoth IPO frenzy. The explosively successful site garners comparisons to cultural monoliths like Amazon and Google – and yet its low budget, predictable logo looks like it was designed by an intern in an hour. The logo embeds the face of a satisfied customer in a lowercase ‘a,’ which feels like it was the designer’s first idea and first sketch. Sure, your first idea can sometimes be your best – but in logo design, it’s often the most predictable and the most dull. It pays to proceed beyond the immediate choices in order to differentiate your brand with a concept that has character or that customers don’t expect. This, however, is the kind of logo design I’d expect to emerge from a crowdfunding site where thousands of designers phone it in with the hopes of making $5.
The brand name is rendered in Univers, which again seems like a default choice in this context. Might as well just fire up Illustrator and leave the Type tool set to Myriad. Visually, the one thing the brand has done right is to choose a memorable color and stick to it.
Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma celebrated such an enormous milestone last week. Each time I saw his logo on a NYSE screen behind him, I thought he deserved better. But this is a company that started in a small apartment on a shoestring budget. Maybe now that Jack Ma has taken it to the top, it’s time to hire a pro to design a proper brand identity. Keep the orange and scrap the rest.