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Emily Zugay Is More Than a TikTok Creator

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Michael Caloca/ONE37pm

Emily Zugay is more than a TikTok creator who went viral for redesigning iconic brand logos. The 24-year-old Wisconsin native is legit. Before she makes her appearance on Ellen, you might have heard how big brands like TikTok, McDonald's, Tinder, and the NFL all changed their social media profiles to Emily’s new design. But did you know that she is an actual designer?

Entranced by Disney films growing up, Emily knew she always wanted to create. From 2015- 2019 she attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout and graduated with a degree in Animation & Digital Media. Before she began posting videos on TikTok, Emily was busy working on her side business Pet Portrait Outpost. What originally started off as a favor for a friend quickly turned into a small operation where she paints custom portraits of people’s pets. 

You might be thinking, “If Emily has a background in design, how did she end up making bad logos on TikTok?” Like all of us, Emily found herself downloading TikTok during quarantine as a joke. When she initially took to the app, she didn’t take the platform (or her content) that seriously. It wasn’t until February 2021 when she decided to give the platform a chance.

Having only posted 20 videos up to this point, Emily was clear to point out to me that her video “tell me you were born before 2000 without telling me” was her first TikTok to really take off.

Not only did this excite her, but it signaled to her that TikTok actually has potential.

Shortly after, Emily decided to go all-in, increasing her posting cadence to once, twice, and sometimes three times a day. If you haven’t seen any of Emily’s older videos, then you might not be aware of her love for dry humor. It is this comedic style that she has developed over the past year that has her fans hooked. Just ask her 1.7 million followers.

It was during this exploration phase that Emily started to develop a character in her videos. By putting on this facade, Emily can react and respond to comments from a fresh perspective. This perspective allows her to not only laugh at the comments but then use them to inform future content.

Creating “bad logos” is just one of the many ideas that Emily has written down in her journal, but it is one out of the many she tried that disrupted the platform. When I asked her if she plans to keep redesigning logos, she responded, “I’m definitely going to ride the wave as long as I can. I want to continue to do it in a way that is authentic. I don’t want to put out ten logo videos in a week because I think that devalues them. I want to pace my content, pace myself, and create a desire for the audience to want to watch these videos.” Clearly, she learned more than design at college.

Striking while the iron is hot, Emily decided to go on the offensive. Instead of relying on inbound messages, she decided to reach out to brands she was interested in working with. After her first video went viral, hundreds of brands reached out. To no surprise, brands were thrilled by her proposition and agreed to work with her (monetization 101). 

So now that all eyes—and brands—are on Emily, where does she go from here? Emily is currently in a place where she is known on one platform for one thing. With a following larger than Hawaii’s population, she hopes that a small subset of fans would want to know more about her. She is in the middle of figuring out what is her best course of action when it comes to posting content on YouTube.

While Emily continues to develop her brand, she’s constantly reminding herself to take it one video at a time. Right before we wrapped up our conversation, she pointed out that “just because you have a platform doesn’t mean you should stop the things you were doing before.” 

Emily plans to continue working on Pet Portraits as she explores new ways to connect with her old and now new fans. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure to follow Emily on TikTok to see all her latest videos.

We asked Emily what she thought about our logo. While she admits she is a fan, she had a few suggestions for us. We hope you like our new logo. Cheers!

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