Updated: Apr 23
How free logo sites, like LogoGenie and Canva, are setting your brand up for failure.
You've decided you need a logo. You're a small business without much (if any) income. You don't have the money to spend on a completely custom brand. I get that, and I respect it. Every small business owner has been there before. So, I won't judge you too harshly if you've taken advantage of one or more of the "free logo" websites that are clogging up your search results. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
I would recommend using your "free logo" sparingly until you build up enough funds to dive into developing a solid brand that you will spend time and money promoting. But we'll talk more about this later in the article.
What are "logo makers," and what do they provide?
Free Logo Sites such as LogoGenie, WIX Logo Designer, Canva, and Tailer Brands are just a few examples that will pop up when you search for "free logo design.” Although "free" is a term these companies use rather loosely. These design tools are offered up for free and have usurped many a design project from the hands of professionals.
These sites require some fee or subscription to use "premium" graphics or even to download files. It's probably a small fee (potentially less than 10% of what I would charge for a completely original, professional logo, in fact). But rest assured, definitely getting what you pay for.
You'll choose from a library of icons that millions of small business owners, like you, are accessing. Limited libraries are a significant issue with all online logo makers. So, the likelihood of inadvertently copying someone else's logo is high, like this example from LogoGenie.
How frustrating would it be to spend hours poring over icon options and fonts, only to have someone copy your exact "logo" days later? It is a “logo generator,” so how could it not happen!
What's worse? These two clothing companies shared a testimonial about how much they love their logos and how it will make them stand out because it's so professional-looking.
Sorry to burst your bubbles, but this design is not professional, it is not a custom logo creation, and it definitely won't make you stand out.
I saw this same art on at least four other testimonials within a 60-day period, all clothiers. Talk about a great way to create the perfect logo, am I right? (insert exasperated eye-roll here)
What are some issues you could face with a free logo?
Outside of the obvious issues that will cause you to compete for brand recognition, there is a bevy of problems that you can run into by using these sites. Let me lay out a couple of them for you.
You designed the logo yourself, right? Wrong.
An artist listed that artwork for use by the "logo design company.” They are only getting paid pennies for that artwork while the logo company reaps the credit and the monetary rewards. How would you feel if someone bought your product and then resold it to someone else, over and over again?
Lack of Customization
Are the curves of your icon precisely what you want? Does that apple icon represent your style of education? Does that power cord match the look you want for your electrician's logo? Do you only have the option of dumbbells for an icon, but your fitness enterprise mainly uses kettlebells?
Or maybe the AV plugs for your audio shop look like people flipping the bird? But i'm sure that's what you were going for, right?
If you had worked with a professional designer, you would get what you want and something that uniquely represents your business.
Another issue that a professional designer can fix for you is fonts. This might seem small, but even a small tweak can make your logo more legible and professional.
Take a look back at the clothier logos I showed you earlier. Let's look at Nama Ji Collection first.
See how the "c,” "t, and "i" look in "collection" are so tightly spaced they are touching? I'm not even going to start with the tagline under the logo. It hurts my brain and is a slap in the face to typographers everywhere.
Now, look at the "y" and the "a" in Shyam Hosiery; there is a massive gap between them. A proper designer would look at your font choices and work with each letter to make sure that it works with the entire text. Each letter has its purpose, so let them do their jobs!
Trademarking is a highly complex and costly legal issue, so I won't get into the in's and out's of it here. You are better off working with a lawyer that specializes in trademark and copyright.
But you never have to worry about trademarking your logo if you use a free logo maker site because you won't have any legal rights to the artwork. Anything purchased from a stock graphics or photography site, otherwise known as "royalty-free," doesn't allow trademarking for artwork purchased from their site. Take a look at the licensing agreement from when you bought the graphics. It's in there, I promise you.
Here is a link to what Canva has to say about copyright and trademark. Not much there, right? They are fairly ambiguous about what rights you have with work created in their free graphic design software because you don't actually have any.
Will they guide you in how to use your logo?
A good designer will be there for you throughout every step of your logo-building process. If you're lucky, they'll have several skills up their sleeve that'll even take your relationship forward into other projects.
Typically, I will help my clients build a logo, and then I'll help them implement it through a website and other marketing collateral like business cards, stationery, and advertising. Ready to start working together? Click here to visit my contact form.
When you use a free logo builder, you'll lose the interaction with a professional that can give you insight into how important your logo is and the different ways you can use it. Also, you might unknowingly make design choices that could potentially hinder the way you use your logo.
Working with an individual who has experience in the world of marketing can help point your efforts in the right direction. Would you trust yourself to lay the foundation for your home with no experience? No? I didn't think so. Then why wouldn't you hire a professional logo designer to lay a strong foundation for your brand? After all, it is one of the most important things you can invest in to build your business.
If you're still unsure about hiring a designer, take a look at this blog post about the questions you should ask a graphic designer before hiring them.