January 15, 2015

The Problems and Pitfalls of Cut-Price Logos

The Problems and Pitfalls of Cut-Price Logos

If you’re not entirely familiar with the phenomenon of prefabricated logo sites, here’s the sales pitch. “Visit our site and for just $9.95 have a custom logo designed for your business in as little as a day!”

Sounds pretty good, right?

At least, to many business owners it does – which is why these types of sites have only multiplied over the years. But, under the veneer of cheap prices and lightning fast turn-around time are some major flaws with that model that can negatively impact a business. Let’s take a look at some:

No research or process.

Any legitimate designer will tell you that the key to success logo development is research and process. In order to create a mark that meets the unique needs of a business, more is needed than knowing the business name and what they do. If you run Bob’s Tanning Salon, a designer could easily crank out your name in a fun font with a palm tree next to it and call it quits. That’s poor design. In fact, the actual act of hopping on the computer and rendering the logo is a very small part of logo development. The important part is research; understanding not only what a company does, but how, why and for who. Who are their competitors. How do they want to differentiate themselves? How do they see themselves in the market? How do they think the customer sees them? How does the customer actually see them? This is followed by brainstorming and multiple sketch concepts which are weighed, refined, and weighed again. A direction is chosen and then, at that point a designer can think about getting on the computer. Design is solution to a problem. Unless you have put in the time to research and define the problem, there’s no way for a design achieve its goal. Herein lies the problem with prefab logo sites – there is no time to be spent on the necessary research when you’re selling 24 hour turn-around times.

Logo Theft

Should you choose to use one of these online logo sites, you may get more than you bargained for and discover that logo you bought from them wasn’t theirs to sell. Since the copyright laws on derivatives are framed in broad and often subjective guidelines, a surprising amount of these online logo services make a business out of re-purposing other designers’ work and selling it as their own — a point illustrated by veteran designer Von Glitschka in his post, LogoGate 2011. Von discovered that a popular discount logo service, LogoGarden, was not only ripping off many of his designs, but other designers’ work as well.

The lesson here is buyer beware. In an effort to save money, your business may end up on the wrong side of some legal ugliness that could cost you more than the fifty bucks you initially paid for the logo.


This word more than any other sums up the reason these online logo companies can get a logo design in front of you faster than a pizza. As the business progresses, it builds up an archive of artwork. At that point, a majority of the time, when a new design request comes in they will dig through the archive and use elements of old logos to create a Frankenstein. The result is that you get logos that look exactly the same. Imagine being a business owner, working hard to build a unique brand only to discover the identity sold to you is anything but unique.


Aside from the lottery, the saying “you get what you pay for” still holds true. Business is not easy, and it’s important to try to save money where you can. Your branding is not one of those aspects where “you can”.

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