Emily Zugay: TikTok’s Graphic Design “Prodigy”

Emily Zugay, a recent viral TikTok star, has many companies calling her name. With a particular knack for sarcasm and dry humor, Zugay uses the platform to show off her “impressive” graphic design skills.

In her first video, which now has over 15 million views, Zugay pinpointed aspects of popular company logos that she found “ugly.” For example, she stated that the famous Starbucks logo was “tacky” and “outdated.” Her sarcastic and obvious poor reconstruction of the logo brought buzz to the funny post.

Upon popular demand, she began to recreate additional companies’ logos. The comment section of her second video included a plethora of popular brands, such as McDonald’s, Adobe, Nascar, The Washington Post, Tinder and TikTok. The chain of verified brands requesting a redesign is not only lengthy, but a clear display of brands wanting to reach new audiences through Zugay’s trend.

In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Zugay noted, “Graphic design is not my strong suit; I think we can all agree. I went to school for animation actually, so I kind of thought it would be funny. Over time, I picked up some lingo from being in critiques and whatnot. I thought it would be funny to kind of make it sound like I knew what I was talking about and pair it with awful logos.” However, her satirical graphic design approach really took off when brands began to use Zugay’s logos as their profile pictures on TikTok. Companies quickly recognized the popularity of the trend as millions of users understood what it meant.

Zugay explained to DeGeneres how she stylizes the designs. She said, “I kind of just try to take every little beautiful design aspect and kind of flip it on its head. Sometimes there are spelling errors, sometimes intentional and sometimes not intentional.” For example, the Detroit Lions’ profile name and picture now depict four simple lines with text that reads “detroit lions,” purposely poorly crafted and misspelled by Zugay, rather than its distinguished NFL blue lion logo.

In preparation for her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Zugay created a new logo for the talk show host’s brand as well. She explained, “In my opinion these colors are going to pop in a lower corner of a TV screen.” Contrary to her statement, the colors depict rather darker tones. This logo is now plastered on a variety of merchandise available on Ellen’s retail website, where 100% of the profits will be given to America’s Food Fund.

It’s no secret that TikTok has become a popular platform for companies to reach greater audiences. By taking advantage of trends on the app, brands are able to connect with audiences in new ways – like changing their profile pictures to Zugay’s logo adaptations to relate to their consumers.

Lady Reynolds is a senior at the University of Alabama currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts in communication and information sciences with a major in public relations and a minor in business. Her interests and skills link a strong command for the English language and a penchant for creative arts.

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