Alum’s comedic redesigns of iconic company logos are a hit on Tik Tok

Zugay’s work goes viral as millions view videos; she gets signed T-shirt from NFL’s Detroit ‘Lines’ players
UW-Stout alum Emily Zugay with her comic redesign of the Detroit Lions logo to Detroit Lines
Pam Powers | September 29, 2021

University of Wisconsin-Stout alum Emily Zugay started using Tik Tok in February as a fun pastime, never realizing she would rack up millions of views and catch the attention of some of the country’s largest companies when she jokingly shared redesigns of their well-known logos.

Starbucks, McDonald’s, H&R Block and even Apple have all been victims of Zugay’s redesigns.

When Zugay, a 2019 entertainment design graduate with a concentration in animation, realized TIk Tok’s algorithms allowed her to gain followers quickly she started posting her redesigns.

In a Sept. 8 Tik Tok video Zugay tells her viewers:

“I graduated college with a degree in design and I redesigned some popular logos I think we can all agree are ugly,” she said in a deadpan voice to the camera.

Emily Zugay in her Tik Tok persona
Emily Zugay as her Tik Tok persona / Photo courtesy of Emily Zugay

Up pops Starbucks’ famous green logo. “I don’t like anything about it,” she said. “I hate this green color.”

The redesign features two pastel stars overlapped on a purple circle with coffee spelled wrong.

She also created a circle for H&R Block’s logo, and Apple’s iconic brand became an orange square with the word apple in an unusual font.

She urged McDonald’s to get rid of the knees in the golden arch logo and instead to emphasize the O like as in onion rings and spell it McDoalds.

“When you spell it wrong, it makes you laugh more than once,” Zugay said in an interview.

 

MdDonald's Tik Tok logo
Zugay's McDonald's redesign / Photo Courtesy of Emily Zugay

Her first video racked up more than 18 million views. The second video, in which  Zugay remade the logos of Target, Tik Tok and NASA, has had more than 10 million view.

Response is ‘surreal’

“There are people who still believe it is for real,” said Zugay, who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I thought it would be fun to redesign logos terribly. I used words I picked up during critiques at my UW-Stout classes that helped explain why my designs were better. I had to keep my face as serious as possible. We have all been in a situation where there is somebody who thinks they are particularly good at a task, and they just might not be. I tried to become that person.”

Zugay never expected the reception from viewers, nor that companies would flood her comments requesting that she redesign their logos too.

Tampax, the Washington Post and Tinder have all been subjects to her redesigns. Many of the companies Zugay has redesigned have chosen to replace their Tik Tok profile pictures with Zugay’s comedic redesigns.

“I honestly did not see it coming,” Zugay said of the viral postings. “It’s just crazy how well it is doing.

“It’s surreal to be working in cahoots with these companies,” Zugay said. “The fact it is so lighthearted makes it less scary. I just tried to do everything you shouldn’t do as a designer. I try to picture producing the worst possible product, while trying to keep it somewhat believable. This could be a graphic designer in high school. That is my goal.”

Doritos Tik Tok logo
Zugay's Tik Tok Doritos logo / Photo courtesy of Emily Zugay

One of her favorites has been the Detroit Lions; she used lines to depict the National Football League team. She scored some free tickets to a game for the redesign, and players were given shirts using her logo. Zugay received one of the shirts signed by team members.

She most recently redesigned Amazon’s smile logo to Amason with a brown square below it to depict the company’s use of boxes.

Trending on Tik Tok

UW-Stout Assistant Professor of Design Michael Heagle said Zugay’s on-screen persona could not be any more different than she is.

“I'm sure I speak for all of her instructors when I say that Emily is actually a positive, bubbly lover of design and not some disgruntled outsider,” said Heagle, interim program director of animation and digital media.

“And while her intentionally naive takes on old design chestnuts are cutting and hilarious, she is in fact a completely competent designer in her own right, despite any evidence she concocts to the contrary. Should I say that the design work depicted is not indicative of the standard we aim for at UW-Stout? Perhaps. But the philosophy exhibited — that of questioning the old standards and holding giant corporations to task in the service of the greater public  is one I can applaud.”

Emily Zugay
Emily Zugay / Photo courtesy of Emily Zugay

Heagle is overjoyed for Zugay’s success and her ability to grab the attention of the companies.

“The fact that they're flipping their social-account logos over to her improved versions just shows how much influence a lone social media user can have,” Heagle added. “And if we can get a giant corporation to change their logo to something whimsical with the power of a video, what else can we make them change for the better?”

Jesse Woodward, a UW-Stout lecturer of animation and digital media design, said Zugay’s series is creatively humorous. “Emily created a series with a unique online persona that shows the importance of good design but in an ironic, funny way,” he said. “In my class, Emily was creative, hard-working and wasn’t afraid to go above and beyond.”

Zugay is working to monetize the Tik Tok videos and plans to release a couple of more featuring other logo redesigns.

Zugay has a pet portrait business, in which she draws people’s pets, that has grown because of her Tik Tok fame. She plans to continue with that business as well.

“I just want to entertain people and have fun with what I am doing,” she said. “Trends come and go. I’d love to be here for the long haul and work on my career. I hope it opens up opportunities for me.”


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