Visual conflict–elements that don’t harmonize–is another big pitfall in identity design. Because there are so many different manifestations of this particular deadly sin, we will look at numbered examples.
Slapping a shape on some letters without considering the relative contours is another all-too-common kind of lazy design (1).
Sometimes elements are not compatible or are mismatched in some manner. Here (5) we have a baroque-style illustration (we already have identified illustrations as a problem) together with type from the 1960s and ’80s.
Another kind of disparity happens when designers try to create their own type (4). Most designers do not have the typographic skill to pull this off, and the results will usually look amateurish.
Rarely does using a logo as the first letter in the signature work well (7, 10, 11). It disrupts the easy reading of the signature. It’s even worse if the logo is used for some letter in the middle of a signature (3, 6, 9). If the letter is the same size as the other letters but very different in design, there is a discontinuity in reading the signature, and the word seems split in two.
Treating letters in a single word in different graphic styles or colors (8) is also disruptive to reading the word. Is it two words or one? The same disruption happens when some letters are a different size. Generally, it is better to keep the logo separate from the signature (6). Otherwise, just design a cohesive wordmark to begin with.
Yet a different kind of wayward design is when the mood or imagery are at odds with a professional image that befits the company. This can happen in many different ways, but often it is a question of the design shapes reminding the viewer of something not intended or promoting association with incompatible ideals. Specific note on #2: Are those people in silhouette or bird droppings? What company would want that association?
Finally, a design that shows a double-entendre is a serendipitous delight, but when two or more concepts are forced together poorly or in an overly contrived manner, the result is a disastrous hodgepodge (3, 5, 7). This is akin to using every spice you have in a stew: garlic, cinnamon, thyme, peppermint and cayenne all together.
Adapted from Logo Design Theory: How Branding Design Really Works