Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Some use humor as a crutch. For Emily Zugay, humor was the key to her success. This 24-year-old graphic designer went viral on TikTok as the creator of one of the platform’s biggest inside jokes that brought brands to their knees. 

In a monotone voice and with an expressionless face, Zugay first gained her TikTok fame by berating Starbucks’ imagery: “I don’t like anything about it. I don’t like this green color. I don’t even know who this figure is, maybe the president or something. The font is also just tacky and outdated.” As a 2019 graduate of UW-Stout with a BFA in entertainment design, Zugay believed her creativity was the only solution to save this company from peril. 

To solve their drastic design flaws, Zugay presented her own “redesign” of the popular coffee chain’s logo. She replaced it with tacky colors, skewed shapes, and misspelled branding. In the process, she captured the attention of over 14.9 million TikTok users. 

Zugay continued her satirical video series, using her dry humor to execute hideous new logos for big-name brands like NASA, Tinder, McDonalds, Doritos, Amazon, and the list goes on. 

These iconic companies capitalized on Zugay’s personalized and purposefully appalling creations, quickly changing their social media profile pictures to reflect her redesigns. Other brands were eager to get in on the action, imploring in her videos’ comments sections for Zugay to spruce up their logos. 

Other brands took the spontaneous collaboration with the aspiring graphic designer even further. The Detroit Lions sold t-shirts that sported Zugay’s redesign of their brand, while her creation for Microsoft greeted customers atop a NYC storefront. Panera even enlisted the TikTok sensation to design their ugly holiday cup collection. This campaign reminded consumers that “it’s what on the inside that matters,” which refers to Panera’s premium coffee. 

Zugay’s ideas also serve as an excellent example of PR ingenuity at its finest. PR professionals know that staying on top of social media trends and leveraging the appropriate channels when designing a campaign strategy is crucial. When paying attention to those content avenues, TikTok should be at the forefront of one’s mind. This destination for short-form mobile videos quickly turned into a unique marketing source, with an algorithm that allows you to reach target audiences across the globe and partner with popular creators that arise from outside the media mainstream.

Furthermore, it allows PR professionals to remain culturally attuned and quickly capitalize on pop culture. This is what national brands did with Zugay’s content, showing that they could take a joke, hip enough to keep up with the trends, and overall, a part of the current conversation. 

We all know the bonds that form from being a part of an inside joke, and Zugay’s jokes offered brands that intimate connection with their consumers. 

Emily Hellwig

Wake Forest '23

My name is Emily Hellwig and I am a junior from Lexington, Virginia. I am Politics and International Affairs major with minors in Communication and Spanish, pursuing a career in Public Relations. I am a redhead with a soul, avid feminist, and lover of Pepsi, the deacs, dancing, and podcasts (in that order).
Similar Reads👯‍♀️