Designer Milton Glasser's conceptual acumen was taking an idea and creating imagery that was both powerful and yet simple to understand. His iconic 1970s “I Love New York” campaign is still copied.
Glasser, who died in 2020, believed there are three responses to a piece of design: “Yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
“Wow” can be used in the pejorative sense, particularly when viewing the logo for Saint Francois County, Missouri. Just a little over an hour's drive southwest of St. Louis, the county's seal is now a source of derision on the social media site Reddit, reports the Washington Post.
To be fair, its designer, Harold Gallaher, is a mechanical engineer, not a graphic designer. Gallaher is also the county's presiding commissioner. In 2018, to meet a deadline for a publication, Gallaher took it upon himself to redesign the logo over a weekend. It replaced the previous seal created by a high schooler in 1982.
Using free tools on the internet, Gallaher went with an anti-Glasser effect: a bald eagle flying over the U.S. flag, surrounded by the Bible, a cross, the county's map, and a pickaxe and shovel.
The uproar began a few weeks ago when the seal was posted to the CrappyDesign subreddit. It elicited more than 17,000 comments.
One user summed it best: “All that's missing is comic sans.” Ouch.
Gallaher takes full credit for the debacle, telling the Washington Post that a sick 5-year-old child could've done a better job. It's also why the county has opened up a worldwide competition for a new logo.
Whatever design the county gets, it should adhere to another Glasser standard: “Just enough is more.”