Hypothetical situation:

It is a presentation of a corporate image for a male sports club. The meeting includes the client, the marketing director, the purchasing manager, the client's wife, and two important employees.

The name of the club refers to a corpulent, vigorous and strong animal. The logo represents the head of that animal, seen from the front, which gives a feeling of strength, impetus, resistance and decision.


Behind there is a circular frame, very representative of the main object of many sporting events.

Indirectly simulates the support of hunting heads, that reaffirms the masculinity of the corporate image and it works like a strong support for the pictogram.

As a total symbol resembles a heraldic shield, referring to the club's tradition and history.

The designer presents each element of the corporate image.

Everything is going well, until one of the listeners says that the logo remains to something different for him.


How should the designer react?

  • 2
    ...and that is why work needs to be shown to a variety of people before presentations :-) I don't think this is an opinion based question but I think the answers you will get are likely to be highly dependent on culture and the intricacies of the situation and all the non-verbal communication that would be happening along side.
    – curious
    May 30, 2018 at 19:49
  • @Emilie Right Emilie, but not all the people thinks that way.
    – user120647
    May 30, 2018 at 19:53
  • 2
    That reminds me of a news report I saw a few years ago here in the UK.
    – Billy Kerr
    May 31, 2018 at 0:02
  • 1
    Also, related to your question but not related to a designer's "response" per se. It's a good idea to have more than one proposal to show, and to make sure you are fairly equally happy with all of them, in case such a situation arises.
    – curious
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:09

5 Answers 5


I completely realize this is hypothetical, but that head appears to have been specifically created to correlate to the uterus. It's neither strong nor dominant in my view. I would not be comfortable presenting that animal head as being "strong and dominant".

To address the unspoken issue....

I feel that people are always going to see things in your art you don't see. This hypothetical situation is no different than if you were to create a logo which you think is your "best work ever" and the client.. . simply dislikes it, but can't tell you why. Horribly frustrating to say the least.

What people see in shapes and artwork is really about them not the artwork. I don't think you can have a "blanket" reaction to anything regarding this. Each situation is unique. Some clients may see something completely out of thin air that you can not fathom being seen. And some clients may realize it's a long shot anyone else will see "that" so they are fine with things as they are. Other clients may feel what they see is unacceptable and even if you don't agree with it, they want things altered.

All you can do is react calmly, not appear to be offended, and ask where they see what they see. Then if their stance is that it's clear to them, you have to adjust.

In your sample the head could be made from a more realistic silhouette - again, clearly you purposefully made it match the uterus. Stronger, bolder horns, a better size ratio between the head and circle, simple things that would almost immediately remove the whole uterus connotation.

Sometimes clients see things and they aren't concerned about it.. other times.... well a redesign is warranted. Every situation, and client, is different.

I drive by this logo constantly....

enter image description here

What do you see?

I see a small happy condom. Expecting the building to be a health clinic or family planning center.. Well, it's for a fence building company. I think they meant the little character to be the top of a fence slat possibly... but that certainly isn't what it looks like to me. They like their logo and use it. So.... am I wrong for seeing what I see or are they wrong for using a logo I see as a condom?

Same goes for clients, they aren't really ever "wrong" for seeing something unintended. It's more a difference in perception and in most instances I feel a designer should strive to make their client proud and boastful about the artwork which is created for them. If that means scrapping the uterus cow for a better design... that's what I'd do without argument. I never take a hard stance in disagreement with any client's perception, even if I think it's just downright ridiculous.


Control reactions with your pitch

As a designer you should have a presentation/pitch deck ready to lead your clients through your vision and design choices.

That being said if you didn't have one or use something similar to layout where you came from in your designs, you can mitigate the questions by then explaining your process and apologizing for any similarities that the design has.

Always be professional and not defensive. Use your design process and facts to navigate your way through it. Apologizing for the error or misconstruction is a great tool to win the offended party back and show your empathy.

These tactics can also be used for situations where someone thinks your design is too similar to another design.

  • 1
    -Always be professional and not defensive- Exactly right!
    – user120647
    May 30, 2018 at 19:55
  • 2
    @Danielillo Yep! Keeping calm and using the facts not emotions to explain is always the right move! Also apologizing for the error or misconstruction is a great start too. May 30, 2018 at 19:59
  • You know, your display name reminds me ... :P
    – Au101
    May 31, 2018 at 1:10

Always Listen First..

Ovaryraptor said it well. Controlling your reaction keeps a positive perception of you intact.

If you can't tell by the image, it's the opposite gender you're dealing with. This design/layout was completely function oriented and based on the property layout. (it's a stormwater detention pond with a recreation path around it.) At no point did the perspectives or renderings lend themselves to this perception... well, until after construction. When Jon Stewart and The Daily Show calls your company and asks you for comment, you may wish you'd worked a little harder to find a different solution. One of your "listeners" is someone important and will not look beyond the reference. At best it will shorten the life of your design and more likely become a thorn in their side if they were to move forward until someone they feel important makes a joke and ends the design. In my opinion, it should be altered or changed.

enter image description here

  • 1
    What's the image supposed to evoke? By your comment If you can't tell by the image, it's the opposite gender you're dealing with. I'm inclined to think it's a penis but I can't see a penis, hard as I'm trying to. Is it supposed to be a penis?
    – xDaizu
    May 31, 2018 at 12:02
  • What makes you think it's a penis if you can't see a penis?
    – Linus
    May 31, 2018 at 16:53
  • The "opposite gender" reference (in respect to the uterus in OP) and the fact that in these "architecture that look like things", the "thing" is usually a penis.
    – xDaizu
    Jun 4, 2018 at 6:41

There are some prominent examples of this:

  • The Mitsubishi Pajero was originally named for the Pampas cat (Leopardus pajeros), but in Spanish the term is generally associated with autoeroticism (and the vehicle is marketed as Montero in some markets, notably Spanish-speaking ones).
  • Unicredit has a logo that is derived from the digit one, but has occasionally been alleged to look “phallic”.
  • Parallels between the Windows logo and the swastika have been drawn on the net for decades (just enter “windows swastika” into the search engine of your choice).

There may not be a hard-and-fast rule to dealing with this. Some people will always see what they want to see and there is no guarantee that somebody, somewhere, someday will not make some unfavorable association with your brand. If such associations are discovered early in the process, this gives you the opportunity to think of all possible consequences.

Is your client ready to deal with that becoming the next Internet meme? It may result in a lot of people poking fun at the brand/company/product, but that also means a lot of publicity and can even help sales via involuntary viral marketing. Or they may decide to dismiss it as prepubescent humor and ignore it altogether. In the end, that’s a decision only the client can make. You can only advise them of the consequences, both the positive and negative ones, and show them alternatives. In your case, that could mean replacing the animal with a specimen of a related species whose horns point upwards rather than downwards, eliminating the uterus connotation (though that depends on how specific the name of the club is). Or you could use a profile view of that animal’s head rather than a frontal view.

Another option is to run the design past a few people and ask them specifically for any non-obvious associations, then possibly go for a less risky design—though you’d do that well in advance of presenting that design to the client.

Btw, Mitsubishi continues to use the Pajero product name in some markets, Unicredit still uses the same logo, and while the Windows logo has gone through various design changes, the basis for the swastika association still hasn’t been eliminated.

  • I understand what you mean, but the question is not finding possible solutions, this will come after or before if the designer took care of it. The issue is the reaction right at the moment. I put it as a game, how you would react? The only one answer I found is a very simple word: experience.
    – user120647
    May 31, 2018 at 22:01
  • 1
    +1 for "Is your client ready to deal with that becoming the next Internet meme?" because with social media nowadays, it's very easy for something like this to happen.
    – curious
    Jun 1, 2018 at 1:11

I thought about editing the question after reading some answers, but since there is no concrete answer, I add mine.

The point is not try to find a solution for this problem, actually the sample is totally fake.

But not the situation, it happen to me once, a long time ago, not that extreme but equally important. I don't remember what was the case, think it was something with colors, but if I did I would put it as an example. What I remember is my reaction at his time. Is easy, four points and a corollary:

  • At the beginning silence, big open eyes, and no words.
  • After a short while, accept the comment with a clear affirmation.
  • On a third place, transform the presentation into a small conversation involving the person who evoked the objection while thinking of a conceptual solution.
  • Fourth and the most important, present a solution right at the moment.

Such situations tend to occur, our profession is exaggeratedly exposed, and everyone thinks if it should be green or red. This is clear.

But from thinking about a color change to begin to design there is just one step. For that reason, allowing conceptual modifications is exaggeratedly valid, before, during and after a project. But, and here the corollary:

  • Never allow the client to design.

In fact, he presented us a problem and he is paying us to solve it 100%.

Accept suggestions but always be very clear about your conceptual base and create around this. Be sure that if the client said that you have to put a circle somewhere, at the end of the project he will say: I hope you discount my circle from the budget 🙂

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.