Every once in a while on my Facebook feed, I see a post or ad that pops up touting the newest online logo generator website, Fivvr, or logo competition site. Each touting cut-rate design costs and super professional results. And within the professional designer community, there is a lot of huffing and puffing over it. But to me, I’m fine with it.
The right place and time
Obviously, there is a market for these types of services. Do I like that? No, but it is a reality of this profession and many professions. There will all ways be a cheaper alternative to most any task. And I get it, starting a business is hard and expensive. Depending on the type of venture, there could be upfront expenses like rent, and supplies, and employees, and product stock and…the list goes on. Spending real money on a designer to create this amazing branding for your business may be pretty far down the list when you look at the number of expenses that go into most start-ups.
I’ve been fighting this fight for years
True we are more in a ‘digital-everything’ age, but if I can take you back to a more analog, paper and book time in history—does anyone remember those volumes and volumes of clip art books/CDs? I know I had them. A big binder of plastic sleeves full of CD-Rom disks numbered 1-800 (Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating), and a very dog-eared, multiple Post-it note tagged, broken spine, 6-inch thick book of clip art image with really odd catalog numbering file names. In there was a treasure trove of simple, editable images that any plumber, carpenter or attorney could slap into their business card and be happy. Today is no different.
More than just pictures
Boiled down, what these sites allow you to do is mix and match font styles and simple icons—kind of like those old flip books we had as kids where the heads were on one set of bound sheets, then the bodies on another below it, etc. What you are not going to get is real strategy and critical thinking from a designer’s perspective. Its our job to dig in there and unravel the little nuances of your business and the name and come up with clever solutions that will stand out and make the customer go “huh, that’s pretty cool.”
Here’s the deal, if this service is what you feel is best for your business than you are just not a client for me—yet!
You see, when you hire a professional designer to create your logo, we don’t look at it as some images mashed together to make something creative. We look at it as an opportunity to create the representation of your brand. And “Brand” is a whole lot different than “Logo.” To us, a brand is ‘who’ you are as a company. It takes into account your company’s values, services, the vibe you take with your customers, and where you envision the company going in the future. All the things that make your company what it is, and what you want your customers to know about you…not just what you sell. And the truth is, your start-up company may take years to mature and along with that change based on what the market or customers come to you for. You may have a grand vision on day one, but thinks may turn within the first or second year.
Once you have your voice and solid direction, that’s when I want you to look outside these stock services and let a designer take those years of wins and changes and turn them into a true branded identity for it.
Will I still work with pure start-ups? Of course, I love a blank slate. I am just telling you that it is OK in my book to consider these services very early on.
Now for the crank designer rant
While that is all well and good, just keep in mind a few things if you choose to use one of these services:
- You will most likely not receive workable files. In most cases, the final deliverable will be a low’ish resolution jpeg that can only get so big and not go over a colored background. A true designer should be creating in and supplying you with files that can be used as small as a business card and as large as a billboard in Times Square.
- The artwork will not be copyrightable. If you are paying less, then the designer would cut a corner somewhere. Often using stock icon or artwork, which is not technically permitted in logos.
- You could have the same logo as someone else. If you are choosing from a group of icons to put next to your name, chances are, someone else picked that one as well. Granted, the two companies may never meet, but you never know—or will they—until its plastered on both of your trucks and they are parked in the same convenience store lot one morning.
I could go on, but I’m not here to throw these services (completely) under the bus. Just wanted to express that if you wanted to use one of these services, it’s cool, we can still be friends. But if you don’t, even better, so let’s talk and launch something great!