Why Do Dentists Have Such Terrible Logos?

Anglelic tooth with toothbrush

Teeth really aren’t very cute

It hardly seems fair to be picking on dentists. After all, they are the people everyone wants to avoid. Despite the fact that I’d rather have a root canal than review some of these terrible dental logos, I feel as compelled to comment on them as I am to floss.  Your mother may have taught you that the human body is beautiful. I beg to differ. There is nothing beautiful about a single tooth as your logo. A smile is beautiful. A tooth? Not so much.

bad logo design for dentist

If one tooth is ugly, aren’t more even uglier?

So what are the common problems with dentist’s logos? Many try to turn an ugly tooth into a friendly tooth, perhaps so that kids will want to visit. Our smiling angle tooth (why not the tooth fairy?) is representative of this appalling trend. Frequently, the smiling tooth is accompanied by a toothbrush, since we won’t recognize the naked tooth.

If a single tooth is ugly, why not jazz up that border to create a fascinating pattern? I’m afraid that more of a bad thing doesn’t make it better.

dentists logo stock artwork

Stylized tooth is slight improvement

A trend that I do see with dentist’s logos is the attempt to create a highly stylized, artistic rendition of a tooth. Although I find these much more attractive than the friendly tooth logos or the realistic tooth logos, they can end up being an unrecognizable curve on some logo designs.

So what’s the solution? When in doubt, abstract. Don’t focus on the body part–focus on the function, which is smiling or eating.

Apple Orthodontix has nailed it with their use of an apple in their name and logo. People associate an apple with good health. And what better place to see the results of straight teeth than in an apple bite?

In my next post, we’ll review logos for audiologists, who are challenged working with a similarly ugly body part. We’ll see what they’ve done to improve on the dental logos.

What do you think? Are there any other types of businesses that are beset by tacky logos? Why do you think that is?

Orthodontist logo features Apple

Related Apple symbol works best

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About LJ

I'm a marketer and a small business owner. I love to write about branding, local businesses, small business marketing, and other insights. View all posts by LJ

2 responses to “Why Do Dentists Have Such Terrible Logos?

  • Grand Ciel Branding & Design

    This is a very good question, LJ. Why do dentist have such ugly logos? Perhaps its all that time looking down in the mouth ~ sorry horrible pun!

    Actually you’ve identified an entire health profession in serious need of good branding. Dentists are good at what they do, but logo design isn’t one of them. They think too internally about what is involved, namely teeth and gums (another ugly body part) that they think no one will recognize what they do if they don’t have a least one incredibly big molar dancing with a tooth brush outside their office building and with a smaller version of the above plopped onto a business card.

    Instead they need to think of their patients. How do they want to make their patients feel as most of us dread going to the dentist, present company included. The logos need to suggest a feeling of gentle care, pain-free, good health and of course, a big happy smile.

    A special note about dentists’ logos and typography. I notice the ones that use type faces with sharp serifs or angled points — sort of makes you think of the dentist drill doesn’t it? Ouch!

  • Now That Sounds Like a Good Logo! « The LogoVore

    [...] This post examines the how audiologists have overcome logo design issues more effectively than dentists, the subject of my last post. Graphic ear symbol not instantly [...]

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