Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

Department of Innovation gets stuck

(Updated 10 August 2011.)

Department of Innovation logo
Department of Innovation logo by Jamie Simon

“The Department of Innovation is about people and ideas that likely will shape the way we will live one day.”
— RANDY RIELAND, SMITHSONIAN

Look at the three cogs. In that arrangement, they can’t turn.

Five star innovation.

Via Michelle Malkin.

Update: 10 August 2011
After a slew of comments on the Smithsonian blog post the logo has been updated with a gap between two of the three cogs (below).

Department of Innovation logo

“Thanks for the suggestions on the logo. It’s good to see so many people paying that kind of attention to detail.”
— RANDY RIELAND

The only problem being the smaller cog on the bottom does not have the proper distance between the teeth as related to the larger cog, resulting in teeth sheering off.

The five star innovation continues.

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32 appreciated comments

  1. kevin

    I think the fact the cogs won’t be able to turn is the least of their worries for this design lol.

  2. pixelologist

    LOL. Yep, that’s the first thing that struck me, as well.

  3. roy

    Agree. Not really a 5 star logo…

  4. If the Department of Innovation’s job is to solve problems through innovative means the stuck gears could be a good visual representation. However, I think the yellow circle with the text and stars does not work. This could be made into a very good logo if those elements were changed and the gears were punched up a bit. It’s a good start but not quite there as yet.

  5. Larry

    So embarrassing.

  6. If you look at the lower cog, it’s further away than the other two. Even if the cog to the right wasn’t even there, the other 2 cogs would barely touch.

    …looks like a “crowd-sourced innovation” to me…

    Maybe ★ would be more appropriate…and generous.

  7. Galen

    What kills me most about this logo is how not innovative it is. Gears? They don’t even work! Come on! A child could come up with that. Oh! Let’s add some fat stars to make it cool, guys! Yeah! Here’s a lesson: Choose “star tool” press Option/Click drag! That’s a star. Yep, there you go Jamie Simon. Even more maddening is their tagline. How can you have a stupid anime teeth gear logo next to “it’s all about humans”? So dumb! It’s like they started the conceptual with, “how do we make the suckiest logo possible?”

  8. James Random

    This is what happens when you let board members loose with MS paint.

  9. Robert

    Given the current rate of child obesity (at least in the US), I’d say the logo perfectly symbolizes how we will live one day: unable to turn.

    Thanks for the post, David!

  10. This is really entertaining.

  11. Haggersnash

    Perhaps the design innovation is to think beyond two dimensions, like this example http://www.e-artjapan.com/pics/sozai/3gear-m.gif

  12. This is why I love design…
    So many people will never know of this mistake but it makes every single designer chuckle. Good good stuff.

  13. Juan Vega

    Many years ago I had a friend whose daughter worked at the Smithsonian. She designed a similar logo as a suggested family shield of arms. The Latin inscription read when translated into English: DO NOT LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN. My friend was a very strong individual who filed a first age discrimination suit in CT against a most blue blood company.

    Perhaps also a very good and appropo statment of our present condition.

  14. jim

    I checked it out via Smithsonian Institute, and they fixed the first, obvious problem by moving one of the smaller gears away from the larger:

    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2011/07/welcome-to-the-department-of-innovation/

  15. Would be more fitting if the client was called ‘Stuck for Ideas’.

  16. Giles

    I’ve got a tummy ache from laughing so hard.

  17. That’s pretty poor, of course I have no idea what input the client had but I can’t really find anything positive to say. The idea is pretty cliched the weight of the black line bordering the yellow is unconvincing and the drawing of the cogs shows little skill. Sorry but there it is.

  18. Ken

    Heh I laughed too when I saw this but I believe they already settled it up with the one who made this and the remedy was to put that space between the lower and right cog as seen in the link in this post (click smithsonian) :) still, it doesn’t look as ‘innovative’ as it should be.

  19. Just updated the post with the newly-refined logo. One small problem.

  20. That’s really bad… But hey, they actually changed it already: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/files/2011/07/InnovationBlogPost.jpg

  21. Thanks David,

    The new problem isn’t small. It just doesn’t make sense and makes me feel like this thing just isn’t going to work.

    You should get readers to send in their design suggestions.

  22. it’s just clip art. No one would pay for this.

  23. ZZMike

    As an outsider, I appreciate the design comments. Any 6th-grader would have been able to tell them that the original design was immobile.

    More than that, gears are so 18th-century.

    I can’t tell what the logo is supposed to convey. What’s that little hex nut supposed to do? I realize that logos are supposed to be a bit abstract, but those gear teeth simply would not work in any real machine.

    I suggest one simple improvement: add a thick red diagonal, upper left to lower right.

  24. Is it just me or do others find this logo ironic? Innovation means to renew or change but they used cogs to show that. They created a logo which was innovative for the 1800’s. Neither did they renew, nor did they change the imagery of “innovation” leaving it over-used and stale. I feel very underwhelmed looking at this.

  25. I can’t believe that no one from the company realised this when they are supposedly five star, it doesn’t reflect well on them and now as stated, the new design still doesn’t work due to the size of the cog teeth. Even with this matter solved, I still feel the logo needs much work to reflect their five star reputation.

  26. should have held a contest…

  27. Paul

    it’s a perfectly plausible construction, only a 2d picture of a 3d thing.

    it makes sense in 3d, think outside your little boxes once in a while

  28. Brian H

    Irreparable. You can’t fix stupid.

  29. Audley Hitchins

    Will there ever be any one logo to appease everyone ? Not very likely .

  30. foxpaw

    even (or especially?) in the world of logo design, attention to detail includes making sure that it would work in the real world.


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