This isn't the first time a logo, a symbol, or a visual depiction has landed brands in trouble...
One of the most popular 'reaction' memes on the Internet is the image of a woman using eye drops. It isn't conventional eye drops of the medicinal kind - the bottle is sarcastically marked 'Unsee This'.
If only it was this easy to unsee something. Ekta Naaz, founder-director of Avesta Foundation, a Mumbai-based NGO, had filed a written complaint with the police in December last year demanding that "the (Myntra) logo be changed".
Her allegation was that the logo was obscene and the letter 'M' resembled a woman with her legs spread. The e-commerce giant, over the course of a few days, lightly modified its logo, removing the overlap in colours to address her complaint.
We, at afaqs!, have been following the issue closely, since the news broke. When we spoke to people across the board from the fields of design, strategy and marketing - the consensus was that it didn't matter whether the sources loved or hated the new logo. Once people had seen the logo in this light, it was hard to go back to viewing it as a benign symbol.
This isn't the first time a logo, a symbol, or a visual depiction has landed brands in trouble. In the recent past, brands have garnered criticism for their logos for different reasons.
In 2014, the leading global hospitality brand undertook a massive rebranding exercise, launching a new logo and colour scheme. The brand moved from a text-based logo to a more minimalist one.
The logo was criticised for bearing close resemblance to human genitalia. Users on social media were quick to point out the resemblance between the logo and the body parts (both male and female, strangely). However, the brand did not back down and opted to continue using the new logo across its assets.
The Italian sportswear company Kappa, has a logo that features a man and a woman sitting back to back. However, an internet user pointed out that if you cover the upper halves of their bodies, the image resembles a woman's open legs. The company did not comment on the allegation and continues to use this logo to represent the brand.
3. Dirty Bird
Dirty Bird, a festival and events food van, - appears to resemble a phallus, in the shape of a chicken. The company has claimed that the logo design was entirely accidental - intending to just be the letters d and b beside each other.
The Drum reported that Neil Young, owner of the company, claimed: “We’ve never really thought about it like that. Our designer created a d and b for “dirty bird” then pushed them together to make a cockerel”.
4. Tous Jewellery
This Spanish Jewellry business had to change its logo after people pointed out that the teddy bear's legs appeared to resemble a woman's breasts.
On LinkedIn, communication consultant Karthik Srinivasan highlighted the logo of 3M’s cleaning brand Scotch-Brite. Apart from the brand name, the logo for Scotch-Brite’s products in India includes an image of a woman with a ‘bindi’ who is presented almost like a mascot.
Srinivasan opined that such a logo helps reinforce existing gender stereotypes and sexism in society, and emphasised that cleaning isn’t the woman’s job alone. He mentioned that while the logo might have been relevant when it was introduced in the 1990s, it is regressive in today’s times, especially when the awareness levels around equality and gender issues are high.
Atul Mathur, head of marketing, consumer business at 3M India, took note of Srinivasan’s post and responded by saying that work on changing the logo is already underway and the new logo would be unveiled in a few months. Mathur agreed with Srinivasan’s point of view, saying, “... this is a legacy vector, and that it is undoubtedly time to move on from regressive beliefs.”
The new logo, like Myntra's, had a minimal, yet effective change that addressed Srinivasan's concerns.
6. Aunt Jemima
PepsiCo's product Quaker Oats had a product known as Aunt Jemima syrups. In 2020, Black Lives Matter protests were grabbing headlines and companies were forced to look inwards and rethink their older, racist imagery. In line with this, the company announced it would be removing the old logo, which could be perceived as discriminatory.
In southern states of the US, the term 'Uncle', like 'Aunt', was used to refer to Black people, instead of formal titles like 'Miss', or 'Mister'. “We recognise Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, in a statement. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realise those changes are not enough.”
7. 2012 London Olympics
Wolff Olins' logo for the 2012 London Olympics did not go down well with the public. The agency had worked on the controversial logo for almost a year and its estimated cost was £400,000. It replaced the previous logo, which featured the words 'London 2012' intertwined with ribbons in the shape of the Thames.
The logo was criticised far and wide. Medical experts opined that an animated version of the logo, when used on TV and online campaigns, could trigger epileptic fits (due to its vivid colour scheme).
People also pointed out that the words on the logo could potentially spell 'Zion'. Iran at the time, threatened to boycott the London Olympics unless the organisers replace the official logo, which Tehran claimed spells out the word 'Zion'. People also claimed it appeared to resemble two people engaging in a sexual act as well as bearing resemblance to a Swastika - Hitler's symbol.
Not surprisingly, after the Myntra logo debacle, multiple netizens have joked that Byju's logo should be next in the line of fire, considering its close resemblance to a human backside.