Emily Zugay, an entertainment design graduate from UW-Stout uni in Wisconsin, released a TikTok featuring awfully redesigned logos of famous brands like Starbucks and Apple.
Since its upload on 8th September, the video has crossed 15M views for its satirical style, and Zugay has released a string of other equally bad but funny redesigns for McDonald’s, NASA, Adobe, and Tiktok itself.
VolumeOne reports that the Michigan dweller “intended the videos […] to be entertaining – to maybe garner a couple of chuckles. But now the world is captivated by her deadpan humor.”
Most of her victims seem to have taken the joke in the right spirit, with McDonald’s even changing their Twitter handle. to “McdOald’s,” which was Zugay’s idea. Doritos, Tiktok, and Tinder joined in on the banter, too.
In a press release from her uni, she said, “There are people who still believe it is for real. I thought it would be fun to redesign logos terribly. I used words I picked up during critiques at my UW-Stout classes that helped explain why my designs were better. I had to keep my face as serious as possible.”
She said, “We have all been in a situation where there is somebody who thinks they are particularly good at a task, and they just might not be. I tried to become that person.”
The “low-effort” marketing strategy has gained special popularity amongst Gen-Z circles, who are tired of over-the-top advertising that has too much pomp but no substance. In such a situation, purposely doing something bad feels like an underdog “anti-establishment” move, and therefore, gathers eyeballs. quickly.
For another example, check out this post on Fi bank’s “PPT Ads,” in which I dissect their approach for creating video ads using MS Powerpoint with the intention of appearing thrifty and cool.
Signifance of this Case
Brand admins on social media are loosening their grip on strict image guidelines set by the higher-ups, and embracing user-generated content instead, even though it might not match their quality standards every time, like in Zugay’s case.
This change in attitude may have sprung from the realization that they don’t have to always take their audience seriously. In fact, indulging in light humor may actually be beneficial to them in terms of engagement.
Marketers on the internet are divided over this move, though, according to a report by AFaqs. Some say the brands were just riding on the influencer’s success to chase attention and stay relevant, while others don’t mind the temporary adjustments.
Whatever your opinion, you have to agree that all digital marketers are under immense pressure to participate in every conversation online, as companies suffer from “FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.” This sort of rushed “moment marketing” may sometimes come at the cost of quality content.
Harikrishnan Pillai, the co-founder CEO at TheSmallBigIdea, tells Afaqs, “We are in an era where if you are a brand that appeals to Gen Z, then being a maverick and a non-conformist is a brand persona you have to have. And doing things, like changing the logo for a day because a TikToker felt so, is one such move. It brings the brand into the consideration set of Gen Z’s ‘things to post about today, which, in the digital world, is some solid word of mouth.”
Himanshu Arya of Grapes Digital correctly warns small brands against indulging in such stunts. Pointing to McDonald’s change in logo, he says, “These types of things are done occasionally. Every brand can’t afford to do this, as it’s a privilege enjoyed by only big and established ones.”
Arya says, “If a bigger brand experiments with its brand identity, it becomes a trend, whereas smaller brands can’t afford such risk. Playing with the brand logo just for the sake of it is not a good idea. There is a saying which I think perfectly fits in this situation, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.'”
Zomato’s 2020 Profile Pic Change
The logo redesign story may remind you of Zomato’s February 2020 maneuver, when they removed their logo from their profile pictures and replaced it with a portrait of their smiling rider, which had been submitted by one of their fans.
The adorable smile went viral on social media, with Indian brands sharing their own versions and memes to cash in on the trend.
Conclusion: Have fun, responsibly
Ultimately, it’s important to think twice before you enter your brand into a conversation because when it comes to Twitter (or any other social platform) things can go from fun to disastrous in a few characters. Things can backfire for no reason.
Some audiences may find your statement in bad taste, or worse, not even understand the humor, resulting in miscommunication or permanent loss of online reputation/trust. So it’s not worth risking your reputation just for the sake of being present at every hashtag party.
With that in mind, Zugay’s redesigns seem harmless enough because they don’t really offend anyone and are clearly delivered in an intended deadpan and self-deprecating style. So when no specific person is the butt of the joke, your brand may think of playing with the trend (as long as the laughs are directed either at yourself or better, at no one.
“I just want to entertain people and have fun with what I am doing,” Zugay said in the press release. “Trends come and go. I’d love to be here for the long haul and work on my career. I hope it opens up opportunities for me.”