The dangers of premade logos
Those cute premade logos in Canva or on Etsy are just so tempting, aren’t they? Just slap your name on that little leaf and bam! You have a logo.
I hate to be the person to bring gloom and doom. I know first hand that when you start a business, you are just trying to get things off the ground. You are doing everything by yourself and that’s because that’s what you can afford. And it is hard! Using a premade logo just may feel like only option.
At least you have something, right?
I’m all for bootstrapping, DIYing and cobbling everything together on your own in the early days of your business. I think it is actually helpful in the long-term that you have been in the trenches and know exactly what it takes to run your business.
A logo is an exception to that rule.
There are only few things that are designed to stay with your business in the long-term. If you design a brochure now with a Canva template, and two years from now, you realize it needs a little more professional love, you can scrap that brochure and hire someone. If you build a website on a drag and drop builder and five years from now it is not serving your business anymore, you can hire a designer and developer and move it to Wordpress.
A logo is different. It is never ideal to completely change a logo.
Here are the dangers of choosing a premade logo for your business.
1. You will get a logo someone else is using.
You aren’t the only one on Canva or Etsy or (insert any the dozens of websites that have premade logos for sale here) seeing those logos in the logo template section. Other people see them too. Other people are using them.
That means the center point of your brand - which is supposed to a symbol that calls out your unique qualities as a business - is not unique to you. Can you think of a more embarrassing moment than having a customer point out that they just saw your logo somewhere else? Or worse, what if another business with a poor reputation is using it and that reputation is associated with you? That just gives me chills on your behalf …
I had a friend once who came to me for a logo once for a nonprofit, and even though I offered her a huge discount, she and her business partner decided to pick a logo off Etsy. The logo they picked was pretty. But it wasn’t long before I came across it somewhere else for a completely different business. I couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if this non-profit’s donors saw that and started wondering why they were involved in an unrelated business?
2. You will get a logo that doesn’t fully align with your brand
Those premade logos may have the essence of what you are looking for your brand to represent. But if they are a template, that is the best you are going to get.
The branding process is much more complicated than picking a pretty symbol. It’s important to evaluate your target market, think about the message you want your brand to convey and incorporate your own personal style. All of those things should be wrapped up in your brand and your logo.
How is all of that possible if you start with the logo and try to retrofit your brand into something that is already complete?
3. They are usually more generic.
I hate to say it, but premade logo design is usually done by newbie designers. Actually, the person who designs them may not be a designer at all.
Templates are often subject to logo trends or designs that have been done time and time again. I completely understand why this happens. When I started designing logos, I tended to come up with logos that were similar to what I had seen before. It wasn’t something intentional, but when you start out, you haven’t yet developed your signature style. So what you have seen is lodged in your subconscious and tends be influence what you create.
An experienced designer has learned ways to differentiate their work and make sure it is tailored to you.
4. You will likely outgrow it and have to change it, which goes against ideal practices
Like I said above, you never want to have to change your logo if you can help it. It is one thing to make subtle shifts to the design to freshen it up every decade or so. But when you completely change your logo, you risk losing the following that you have already built. If you have something that doesn’t work and you keep it, however, you risk never really growing a real brand. You don’t want to set the foundation of your business on this Catch 22.
Here’s the thing, if you buy a premade logo, you will almost certainly have to have it redesigned later. Why not spend the money once and begin building a lasting brand from the beginning?
5. You can’t trademark a logo template.
This seems obvious, but it may be something that you haven’t thought about before. If you want to trademark your logo, you will not be able to if you chose a template. Why? Well because like I said, other people have it too.
Even if it is unique enough and no one has trademarked it yet, you have to be the sole owner of the logo to trademark it. In the case of premade logos, you don’t own it. You simply have a license to use it.
Let me repeat that: You don’t own it. Someone else you have never met does.
That should be reason enough to stay away from template logos.
6. They usually aren’t versatile.
When you download a template, you get what you get. There are no logo variations, no submarks, no different formats for different uses.
For example, say you choose a logo that is a horizontal rectangle and you want to put that on social media. It will look either strange or unreadable or both because Facebook will crunch it down to a tiny rectangle within in a circle.
A logo should be versatile. It may need to be shrunk down to put on a pen. Blown up to put on a car. Printed on a t-shirt. It should fit in tiny social media profile pictures. You want people to be able to read it from close up or far away. It needs to say a lot with a little. It needs to represent you and appeal to your target market. It should come in color and look good in black and white.
A professional takes all of this into account when designing your logo.
There is so much that goes into creating this tiny little graphic, and there is a lot demanded of it for years to come. A premade logo will not be able to do all of these things.
Also, you need to have a number of variation file types of your logo. I talked about file formats last week. You will want a png for online use. You will need a high-quality pdf for print. It is helpful to have the native Illustrator file as well for if you do ever want to freshen it up. If you download a Canva logo, there is no Illustrator file. It doesn’t exist.
My branding process always comes with logo variations. That means I include a couple options for layout. Each logo comes with a submark, which is the stand alone symbol. Having alternative shapes and colors comes in useful as you begin to use your logo for different applications.
I also give you a number of different file types including the native Illustrator file. Most designers would cringe to hear me say that. In this industry, we like to keep our native files close. But I have worked with too many clients who don’t have the original file of their own logo a decade after having it done, and the designer is long gone.
Listen, if you bought a premade logo a few years ago and are realizing the limitations now, it’s ok. You can redesign it and there are ways of launching a rebrand that wont completely alienate your current customers. It will take work, but it is possible.
But if you are in the place now where you are tempted to go for something premade, I hope you think twice. It’s not worth the long-term cost to your brand, which will be far more than the couple thousand dollars you spend on a professional, unique, made-for-you brand.
A signature, unique, custom-made brand is worth the investment, and it will return many times what you paid for it.
Are you curious what a custom logo design process would look like for you? Book a free consultation and we can discuss how to make your brand stand out.