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You may wonder how a professional designer would even know there is such a thing as DIY logo generators. It’s kind of like how you know snakes exist. They’re out there, hiding under rocks and such and you know if you go messing with them there’s a chance you’ll get bit.
Actually, I found out about this latest design atrocity via social media channels. Someone actually shared a link to a new logo generator site as if it were a useful tool. Even more disturbing was some of the language on this site, but I’ll get to that.
This is really the hook for these sorts of things. They reel people in by persuading them that they don’t need to hire a professional for one of the main pieces of their whole company branding that will probably be with them for years to come. Just type in a few bits of info such as some keywords that describe your business and this magic generator will spit out about 27 options for you to choose from. You pick the one you like and you pay a small fee (around $31 U.S.) and you can download a png file. If you want a better quality file, you pay a little more (about $53 U.S.). Alright, so what do you get for that?
I entered an imaginary company name: Clarity Consulting and entered several keywords: clean, professional, clear, service. Here is an example of what it spit out …
This is only 9 of them (they give you 27 to choose from before you have to “register” to continue to use it) but I think it pretty much sums up what you get. Now, you may be thinking, well some of these might work …
At best, these are just random fonts and random icons or shapes (the stop sign shaped one … wow ….) that don’t take into consideration all those things a professional logo designer does when they work with you (new company or existing company, what’s the company culture, who is your audience, any other branding you may have, etc. etc.). If you’re desperate to just have something, anything, that can represent a logo and you have very little budget, at least know that desperately picking something from a generator like this is about as low as you can go and it might come back to bite you.
But seriously, if you’re a brand new business, why wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to put your best foot forward?
If you’re really bent on saving a buck and doing it yourself, you can start with research. You can start with older but still valid article, “7 Principals of a Kick-Ass Logo Design” from Hubspot.
Taking a closer look at this particular logo generator website, I came across this gem:
“Since our icon database is rather large, it may occur on rare occasions that a logo is already registered as a trademark in one or more countries throughout the world.”
Just let that sink in for a few moments.
They claim they take a cursory glance around and check for infringement before delivering your logo, but in the Terms of Service of the site is also language such as, “Under no circumstances shall (company) be liable for the contents of the third party supplier”.
Given that this service is an automated generator, there is also potential for very similar logos to be generated or the same icons to be used on many different logos. If they’re pulling generic icons from a 3rd party supplier, it’s basically like old school clip art. These icons could be used a variety of places, so why would you want something like that to be representing your company?
Even scarier, this particular company is also pitching a 3rd level of this service as the, “Ultimate choice for marketing agencies and professionals!” So for about $97 U.S. anyone can go on this site and generate a logo for your company and pass it off as a custom logo and charge much more for it (and there’s still that bit about the “rare occasion” you might find your new logo is a trademark infringement or the icon is the same one many other companies are using).
You could actually be making a good choice to go with who you believe is a professional designer, and still get bit because they’re just using a service like this. This sort of thing could also be used by designers participating on sites where the customer pays a fee and then many designers deliver logos for you to pick one from. Shady, right?
The only thing you can do to protect your business is to do your due diligence when hiring a designer to work for you. Get references, look at previous work so you can get an idea of their skill level, and by all means make sure you work with a legal contract (and that you read and understand that contract). Any designer that doesn’t have you sign a contract, should be a red flag.
I know it can be tough running a small business. You often feel like you have to do it all yourself in order to save money. It’s important to know when to pull in a professional though, and how to vet that professional. Likewise, it’s important to know what the drawbacks and potential pitfalls of doing it yourself are and how important research is to creating your new logo.