Brand New, hands-down the most influential and well-read blog on branding design, has just concluded its reader survey, which sought to find the best- and worst-designed logos of 2009. The worst: Microsoft Bing.
It isn't the name itself that was the problem--the name was actually pretty clever, as the mere sound (bing!) connotes a solution to a difficult problem. (Though my colleagues disagree: They think that to "bing yourself" sounds gross. Fair point.) Rather, the crack up was the logotype itself, which led Brand New to write:
I can't even imagine how someone arrives at a design solution like this. The shapes resulting from the strenuous horizontal scaling are simply too unflattering and unattractive. There is bad taste and then there is this. What was going through the designer's mind? "I'll scale it a little bit. Hmmm, maybe just a little more. More. More. I have so much power. I'm drunk in scaling power. More. More. Scale it more. Don't stop. Do it. Okay, that's enough."
Microsoft has never been a paragon of good design or even decent design. But this is rubbing it in design's face...
...When I first posted the new logo for Microsoft's search engine I blasted it for using scaled typography then "Bob," who designed the logo at Razorfish, informed us that "All the letter forms were made from scratch." I think I preferred to think this nastiness was done unknowingly than fully premeditated. Congratulations, Bing!
Yeouch! "Bob," you'll note, happens to the be the name of Razorfish's CEO, Bob Lord. You'll also note that Razorfish is an interactive agency owned by Microsoft and has no roots in branding.
Meanwhile, no less a figure than Erik Spiekermann, a god of type design, wrote in the comments:
Couldn't you hire someone who can actually design type? It wouldn't take more than an hour to do. It would still be a boring logo, but at least it wouldn't look like a free font drawn by a 15-year old in Corel Draw, in 1987. It was made from scratch and it still looks like scratch.
You go, Erik. The other comments are no less vicious, and often hilarious, including: "Looks like a pretty fantastic logo ... for a mid-level corporate software engineer ..." and "I just puked in my mouth a little" and "It's the retarded executives who think they know more about design than the designer."
In the meantime, Bing is still taking its lumps. Witness this video, which just went viral last week and features a computer programmer doing a remarkable impression of a crazed Steve Ballmer, yelling about how good the name is:
And that's Microsoft in a nutshell: Two steps forward, at least one step back. A solid search service and a laughable design effort compounded by corporate creepiness. Bing!