Why every advertising agency needs to have a review panel of twelve-year-old boys

The Office of Government and Commerce needed a new logo, and they hired a design firm to develop one for £14,000. The conversations between the design company and their client may have gone something like this:

Designer: Okay, so here are some ideas we came up with.

Client: I don't like any of them. The lines are too thick. I want something lighter, more friendly and less bureaucratic.

Second meeting.

Designer: Here are some variations that use thinner lines.

Client: Nope, these are all still ugly. Give me something with more circles. Less angular.

Third meeting.

Designer: We came up with some variations on your circle idea.

Client: No, we can't use these. They have colour in them. A coloured logo would make our letterhead much more expensive.

And so on. Finally, the design team comes up with something the client approves of. Now it's time to order the mousepads and unveil the logo.


A friend of mine remarked, "This is why every advertising agency needs to have a review panel of twelve-year-old boys."

Comments (28)
  1. Rachael says:

    The link doesn’t seem to work – it just goes to the Telegraph main page.

  2. Mike says:

    Believe me, it’s perfect for the department involved…!

  3. SM says:

    My favorite quote regarding the logo is from the OGC Spokesperson who said, "…and it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend."

  4. Bryan says:

    You have to hand to them:  They have a fantastic sense of humor.

    That aside, the first thing I said when I saw it was "that’s kind of a stretch".  Pun completely unintentional >_>

  5. Mike Dimmick says:

    It’s "The Office of Government Commerce". Basically it’s the purchasing department. Like all purchasing departments, it actually wastes money by drawing out the process of drawing up contracts and pushes invalid technology choices on the basis that it ‘saves’ money. In the short-term, maybe. In the long term, no, because you have to retrain everyone.

  6. Kip says:

    That cost £14,000?  Does no one in the agency know how to use Photoshop?  I could have come up with that in an hour, and I have no experience in graphic design.

  7. Bernard says:

    These comments remind me of what happened when the Lucent logo was revealed. People said: "they gave a brush with red paint to a 5-year old and they ask him/her to draw a circle". This being said this became one of the most recognized logo. I also own Photoshop but I have no idea on how to create a branding image. In my opinion the "stupid red circle" was money well spent (until my compatriotes decided to buy the company!).

  8. John C. Kirk says:

    The great thing about this is that the "Dinosaur Comics" guy pointed out the danger of this last year: http://www.qwantz.com/archive/001057.html

  9. Julio says:

    This remembers me of the case of the Institute for Oriental Culture Studies from a Brazilian university. Having "oriental" in the name, it was almost natural to place a rising sun and a pagoda in their logo.

    However, common sense was not natural to the person who drew the logo and to the person who approved it.

    Unfortunately, their site is now offline. Their old logo still lives: http://search.live.com/images/results.aspx?q=instituto+de+estudos+orientais

  10. Yury says:

    It sure is ugly, for an ugly price.

    But please, can anyone explain what’s so funny when it’s viewed on the side. I must be lacking some cultural reference.

  11. Yury says:

    I got it. Ignore the last message

  12. Mike Mol says:

    Mike Dimmick:

    I think you’ve got it backwards.  Retraining is a short-term expense, because you do it once per individual. It can become a continual expense if you have a lot of churn and need to train every newcomer.  But that’s still void if you were training newcomers in your current package, anyway.

  13. Cooney says:

    However, common sense was not natural to the person who drew the logo and to the person who approved it.

    I dunno, it matches my experiences with the administration at my college.

  14. Anon says:


    can’t beat this one

    What the hell is that? Oh my God it’s turning it’s head to look at me!

  15. JohnH says:

    Nearly as good as the Seattle Streetcar’s original name: South Lake Union Trolley…or S.L.U.T.

    The city figured it out and changed the name after t-shirts showed up saying ‘Ride the S.L.U.T.’

  16. I’ve been known to be a horny bastard,

    but looking at that logo, even 90 degrees,

    I do not see the giggle factor there.

    Only thing I can assume is that there are people even more perverted than me out there. (no offense intended Raymond) *laughs*

    It’s almost like how certain soccer moms or "suits" suddenly shout out in panic just because some blurry texture pattern resemble something remotely dirty if you squint your easy and think nasty.

    A lot of the times I usually go (when reading such "news"): Oh, wow. I didn’t even see that one.

    How come people that are supposedly so "pure" (purists?) tend to see more dirt than the average person? (or am I assuming wrong?)

    It always amuses me.

    If you go looking for something dirty, you will find it. In anything.

  17. Joe Butler says:

    In the UK, we’ve also got the qualification for "Computer Literacy and Information Technology". The obvious abreviation would be CLIT but, for some reason, we have the awkward CLAiT instead.


    Roger Hagensen, according to the dinosaur comic link of JohnCKirk, OGC seems to be an instant messaging smiley-type thing, which is partly why it’s so funny.  Yes, the department existed, but for the logo to be arranged just so, is priceless and makes some of us wonder if it was deliberate.

  18. AdamT says:

    More designer/client fun (and Helpdesk faux-pas) at clientcopia.com

    -I think my favourite quote is the "What’s all this Lorem Ipsum ###?  I don’t want it to say that, I want it to say stuff about my company!"

  19. DysgraphicProgrammer says:

    Is someone going mention the Critical Update Notification Tool?

  20. Jon says:

    In the UK in the early 90s Ken Clarke, the then Minister of Education, had a brainwave: since university degrees were seen as more prestigious than degrees from polytechnics, all polys should be "upgraded" to universities. Bingo! Twice as many university graduates and all that was needed was a simple name change.

    [spotting the flaws in this plan is left as an exercise for the reader]

    Urban legend has it that when Newcastle Polytechnic was in line for inauguration as a university the preferred new name (since "Newcastle University" was already in use by the existing university) was "The City University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne".

    Sadly, the potential of this name was spotted slightly *before* launch, and the institution currently sports the less amusing moniker "University of Northumbria at Newcastle".

  21. will says:

    Well based on design company that came up with it http://www.fhdlondon.co.uk/ a few seconds playing with their web site should of sent them running.

  22. asymtote says:

    What do you think the 12 year old boy review panel would make of this logo that is currently used for the Liberty Lake, WA farmers market:-


  23. chrismcb says:


    Could you have? Really? given a blank sheet of paper and the name "The Office of Government Commerce" You would have designed this exact logo in 1 hour? (no time machine or 20/20 hindsight)

    Creating an iconic logo is NOT easy, and I’m amazed it only cost 14K (roughly 28,000 of our worthless USDs)

  24. Dave says:

    And so on.

    Ween went through the same process.  You can see (and hear) the outcome at http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2004/02/weens_unrelease.php.

  25. Anon says:

    The part everyone is forgetting is that the 14K isn’t to pay for the one logo they used, it also pays for the time spent on many designs not used.

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