Oscar Mix-Up Shows Why High Quality Graphic Design is Crucial

Today, the technology and software used for graphic design is more accessible than ever. However, the experience, knowledge and skill of a professional graphic designer is still crucial to making sure your advertising and marketing materials accurately and effectively represent your brand. When it comes to graphic design, mistakes can be costly – as we all saw during 89th Academy Awards.

The moment when Hollywood legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong card (for best actress Emma Stone), declaring “La La Land” the winner for Best Picture instead of the actual winner “Moonlight” is now and forever part of movie lore. Many observers like Fast Company and blogger Benjamin Bannister have pointed out that the confusion was caused by the poorly designed layout and typography of the cards themselves.

As you can see, the cards put the category in small, italic font at the bottom, the title of the film prominently in the middle using the same font size and treatment as the “Emma Stone,” leading Beatty to confuse the Best Actress card he’d been given with the Best Picture card he should have been given. In his Medium post, Benjamin Bannister created an alternate design that makes the category prominent at the top of the card – a design that likely would have prevented the now-infamous error.

The Importance of Good Design

There’s a valuable lesson to be learned here: muddled graphic design creates confusion and diminishes the impact of your message. Content and design must be considered simultaneously to ensure a marketing piece is effective. A pretty design without regard to usability is not only ineffective, it can be disastrous. Whether it’s a sell-sheet, digital display ad, email sign-off or brand logo, it’s important to engage in a thorough planning process with a team comprised of experienced graphic designers and marketing professionals to ensure that your project’s aesthetics are in line with your company’s identity and brand objectives. A good example is the logo, branding and packaging design we created with illustrator D. Witt for our client Bootleg.


As an integrated marketing and communications firm, SCG has capabilities and experience to tie together all the elements of your brand – from graphic design to marketing copy – into a cohesive, well-planned whole. By marrying creativity to our research-based BrandVision™ process, we’ll make sure your marketing and advertising materials are truly effective – and help you avoid the pitfalls of muddled messaging. As 2017’s Academy Awards demonstrated, it’s too important to leave to chance.


[Photos courtesy of Benjamin Bannister on Medium.com]

Posted in

Trevor Nolte

A natural-born leader and Eagle Scout, Trevor has an incredible wit and an insatiable curiosity. His talents in graphic design, brand identity, multimedia design, illustrations and art production make SCG’s clients shine. With more than 18 years […] Read Bio »


Click below to get all the crazy good marketing insight from SCG delivered straight to your inbox. We won’t bug you too often and we won’t share your email. Promise.