Lovework Studio on Why Ugly Logos are a Good Thing

Branding has changed so much over the last 20 years. Branding is more than crafting logos and typefaces. According to Lovework Studio, brands need to go further than that. If you’re obsessed with branding, then read these amazing insights from Campbell and Robyn Butler, Co-founders of the Brisbane-based studio. Together they have worked with some of the best brand agencies around. From Wolff Olins, Design Studio, Dragon Rouge and many more. In our chat, they explained why ugly logos are a good thing, and how to present your ideas to clients in an unconventional way. 

Here are some of our favourite snippets from our conversation:

FLA: Over the years, you both have worked with incredible companies. If you had to pick, what’s your favourite branding project?

CB: For me, it has to be Riot Games, LEC. When I was at Design Studio, we were redesigning their e-sport for them. It was so much fun because I love gaming – we immersed ourselves in the world of gamers and learnt about this amazing community. 

RB: My favourite project was for David Parr House, a small museum in Cambridge in the UK. I loved working with different arts and crafts professionals – it really informed my creative process.

FLA: Was it hard making the decision to start your own studio?

CB: We have always wanted to set up our own studio. We would have done it sooner but we were lucky enough to have some great opportunities come our way. I am glad we didn’t set up Lovework straight away because the four years I worked at Design Studio were instrumental to learning how to run your own creative business. From how to manage multiple projects, to working with senior leaders and clients on a one-to-one basis.

FLA: What changes have you seen in the branding world, and what is branding like right now?

CB: It has changed so rapidly. At university we learnt branding that solely focused on crafting logos and typography. That was it. For me, Wolff Olins really led the way for branding 20 years ago. They described branding as the consumers’ collective experience around the product. In the last ten years, branding has shifted with advances in digital design and technology. With the focus being on digital experiences, services and products, rather than physical touchpoints. Now, all these touchpoints are expressed cohesively within a brand system.

Honestly, I think the word branding is going to die out soon. Someone will come up with a new term to describe these changes. Personally I like ‘vibe’ as a term – design the overall vibe of the brand.

FLA: How would you describe your branding process in three words?

CB: Story, Symbol and System.

Story – What’s the brands’ unique story that you can refer back to in every brand touchpoint.

Symbol – The symbol or logo that’s etched onto the consumers’ brain and makes them think of your brand. 

System – The system connects all the touchpoints together to create the overall brand experience.

FLA: When you’re working for amazing brands, how do you immerse yourself in their world and get inspired?

RB: We start by really feeling like you work in the company but also imagine you’re a consumer of their product. Trying to see the same company at all different angles. Making sure that you’re experiencing all those things. When you can take on board the spirit of the company, using it as part of your process is critical. 

CB: I agree, that’s how you capture great insights. It could be just one little nugget that you could build the whole brand around it. Also, it’s really important in this immersion phase that you don’t present all your insights back to the client – that’s useless. For any brand strategy, you need to synthesize the information so it’s simple, powerful and meaningful.

FLA: We really love your stance on ugly logos. Why should we all design logos that are intentionally ugly?

CB: This is something I picked up at Wolff Olins. If you start by designing a logo that’s nice and clean – it's been done before. That means that you’re already comfortable with it. Make something ugly instead! It pushes you to create something that makes you feel uncomfortable. That’s when a logo feels truly different and new.

FLA: What really stands out is how you present to clients. Do you want to take us through your approach?

CB: Absolutely! At Design Studio, we ran brand workshops with the client that were a bit unconventional. For instance, if we worked with a health business, we would set up the room like a doctor’s surgery and all dress up in lab coats. What that did was take the client out of a PowerPoint presentation and into a weird world where brands live. Thinking about how the consumer might feel or experience the brand.

If you want to hear more of Campbell and Robyn’s entertaining branding stories, listen to the full interview on our Creative Capes Podcast:


Apple Podcasts


If you’re more of a visual learner, head over to our Youtube Channel @futurelondonacademy

Campbell and Robyn also curated The Ultimate Course on Brand Design & Strategy, Branding Now. Learn more here


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