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30 Design Disasters That Will Make You Cringe

Sarah Pendleton-Moorhead
Sarah Pendleton-Moorhead
7 min read
30 Design Disasters That Will Make You Cringe Almost as Hard as You Laugh

Getting feedback on your design work is crucial. No matter how great your eye is, it’s important to get a second (or third or 40th) opinion on your work before releasing it to the public and the unforgiving court of public opinion on the internet. Design is inherently subjective and not all opinions are created equal. You’re never going to please everyone, of course. That being said, there are some design disasters that go way off the rails – with embarrassing, offensive, or hilarious results.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic The Hedgehog Movie designs

The speediest hedgehog in the world is getting the speediest redesign in the history of CGI cinema. A few weeks ago, Paramount debuted the first trailer for their upcoming, live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie… it didn’t go well. The three-minute trailer was met with derision and outrage from all corners of the internet. Fans were disappointed with the titular character’s appearance, which was inconsistent with the Sonic they grew up with in video games and cartoons.

Within a few days of the trailer’s release, the studio announced that, based on the uproar from fans across the internet, it would be redesigning Sonic entirely. It’s a bold and undoubtedly extremely expensive move that is delaying the film’s release from November to February. It also highlights the importance of seeking out and listening to feedback on graphic design.

Perhaps if these design teams had sought more feedback before launch, they could have averted this design disaster as well.

Katy Perry Collection Accidentally Makes Blackface Shoes

Katy Perry Collection Accidentally Makes Blackface Shoes Design Disaster

We seriously wonder if this shoe design was run by, well, anyone before they were fabricated. To be honest, even the peach-faced, blue-eyed mules are on the creepy side… but the black mules with the bright blue eyes and big red lips were a complete disaster. The internet was quick to point out the shoes’ resemblance to blackface and they were quickly pulled from stores.

Prada’s Unfortunate Design Disaster Display

Prada Unfortunate Design Disaster Display

Last December, Prada released a series of what were supposed to be whimsical creatures, loosely based on sock monkeys. The actual characters looked far too much like Sambo and other famous depictions of blackface for many customers’ comfort. After an enormous outcry online, Prada apologized profusely and withdrew the characters from display and circulation.

Burberry Goes for “Nautical Knot”… Misses

Burberry Nautical Knot around neck

At London Fashion Week, Burberry came under fire for showing a hoodie with what appeared to be a noose around the neck. Even the model wearing the hoodie tried to voice her concerns before walking the runway, but she says her criticism was dismissed. Burberry quickly apologized, saying “Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive, and we made a mistake.”

Marvel Endgame Poster Leaves Off a Name

Despite debuting to rave reviews and record smashing attendance, Avengers: Endgame hasn’t been entirely without snafoos. The studio released a poster for the film ahead of its release featuring many of the heroes who weren’t dusted in Thanos’ snap and would, presumably, be avenging the fallen. Just one problem: they forgot actress Danai Gurira’s name. Although the badass Wakandan warrior was featured prominently on the poster, her name did not appear alongside those of her co-stars.

Fans critics on Avengers: End Game poster

Fans immediately noticed and made their displeasure known. Marvel quickly corrected the error and released a statement saying “She should have been up there all this time. Check out the official Marvel Studios' #AvengersEndgame poster. @DanaiGurira #WakandaForever”.

Official statements from Marvel after fixing the poster

Terrible Typography

Font, color and word placement are critical elements of any design that includes copy. Playing with creative fonts and layouts can result in fantastic designs… or they can result in these.

These t-shirts are a great example of why having both a professional designer AND a second set of eyes is crucial.

Typography on tshirts

There are lots of great examples of clever design that uses an object to approximate a letter… these are the opposite of that. These are design disasters.

Another example on terrible typography

This attempt to mix fonts for a clever headline went horribly wrong.

Horribly wrong typography on newspaper headline


It is should be in fun fonts, not blood font!

This is what happens when you just throw quotation marks around all willy-nilly. You end up with an unintentionally ominous billboard.

Typography on billboard

Even massive brands aren’t immune to design fails. This is H&M’s flagship store in New York City.

H&M's design fails in New York

When good intentions meet bad design: This is SUPPOSED to say, “Donut Go Further Without Consent.”

When good intentions meet bad design

Poorly Thought Out Packaging

Packaging serves a number of important purposes. It needs to inform the customer and catch the eye while also being functional. You definitely want your packaging to stand out and be attention-grabbing, but not like these…

What… what is it? Is it hair bleach? Is it cereal? What IS that little creature? I am made of questions.

Packaging design confusion

Wow. Paw Patrol’s really gotten dark.

Packaging design fails

Clearly, they didn’t think this one through. Poor Spidey.

Packaging design fail: Tissue cover

Who set up this photo shoot? Who approved this design? Why doesn’t this guy know how to use an air mattress?

Packaging design fail: cover mattress design

Unintentionally Dirty Designs

Sometimes, design just goes horribly wrong in a decidedly dirty direction. We’re pretty sure none of these are supposed to be suggestive, but here we are.

Yikes. Poor puppers.

Unintentionally Dirty Designs

We’d really like to know what they were going for here.

Unintentionally Dirty Designs 2

We’re scared. (Seriously, what were they thinking?)

Unintentionally Dirty Designs 3

Clock. It’s supposed to say CLOCK. Apparently.

Unintentionally Dirty Designs 4

This is why package testing is important.

Unintentionally Dirty Designs 5

Be careful with your spacing, people.

Unintentionally Dirty Designs 6

Placement Matters, People

Where you place things in a design is just as important as what you’re placing in the design. Sometimes an otherwise passable design gets ruined because the designer forgot to consider how the elements would fit together in the final product.

Not the image you want people to think of when they think of your planes…

Placement Matters

Too bad there weren’t any actual wheels to incorporate into this design. Oh, wait…

Placement Matters 2

Did they even look at the design proof before this billboard went up?

Placement Matters 3

This is supposed to say SKILLS.

Placement Matters 4

I don’t think he’s going to make that basket.

Placement Matters 5

Great Design, Great Feedback

Feedback is a critical part of the design process. A fresh set of eyes can catch details you missed. It’s important to consider your audience, the ultimate placement of your work, and how any moving parts might affect your design work (we’re looking at you, Habitat For Humanity “Practice Your KILLS” truck). An experienced proofer, or opening these designs up to more reviewers, could have saved a lot of them from making our list. At Superside, not only do we pair you with talented, professional designers, you’re also paired with an experienced project manager who can help you through the review and feedback process to make sure you don’t fall victim to a design disaster.

Published: Jun 24, 2019
Sarah Pendleton-Moorhead
Written by
Sarah Pendleton-Moorhead
Sarah Pendleton-Moorhead is a writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. But that’s not all she does: She’s also an artist, singer, mom, wife and self-described sci-fi and fantasy nerd.

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