The NASA logo represents an old brand that started out as an official seal and morphed into an abstraction of the seal, dubbed the “meatball” insignia. The meatball was retired in 1959, in favor of a logo called the “worm,” and then brought back by popular demand. More often than not, the people’s choice trumps good design.
Yamaguma’s take: “A famous design firm created the infamous ‘worm’ logotype. The logo was clearly a designer’s creation with clean, modern, slightly abstract letterforms. It had a timeless feel, easily reproduced in any medium. Yet the market clearly missed the old ‘meatball’ logo. Who knew?”