How NOT to design a logo

Logo design in today’s world is totally under rated.

People do not understand how important a good logo is and how valuable it is to their business.

In this article I am going to outline the ways in which you should NOT go about getting your logo designed… that is, if you are truly serious about business.


What is a logo?

To understand what a logo is meant to do, we first must know what a logo is. A logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand, or economic entity, and its shapes, colours, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other non-commercial entities.

It makes me wonder why people have no logo or why they would even bother with a cheap logo design if a logo is meant to do all of these things?


Logo design contests

The worst deal you could probably go for is a logo design contest. Logo design contests are where you give a brief and then you have multiple designers come back to you with their designs. Although this sounds like a mighty good deal, the quality is usually far from anything you would want to represent your business.

You will be wasting your money and in the long term, in terms of damage done to your business, that amount could be quite considerable.

On another note, design contests & designers who design on a speculative basis are damaging the design industry as designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.

If you want further proof, read these articles: Logo Design Contests Are Bad For Business or The Reality of Logo Design Contests.


Too good to be true deals

If you do a search on ‘logo design’ on google you will find many businesses offering logo designs for very cheap and unbelievable prices. Such deals as “5 design concepts from 5 designers!” or “6 logos from 5 designers only $200” – Stay away!

These deals are extremely deceiving and the quality is far from satisfactory. Have you ever wondered how much thought they actually put into your logo design? Professional logo designers have a strict logo design process that can take weeks or in some cases months to complete a logo. They may offer you a result within 24 hours or maybe even less meaning literally no thought was put into your logo design.


Stock imagery

Some so called “designers” (usually the same people who enter design contests) steal images from stock sites to design your logo… or in some cases business owners download and use the stock images themselves. This is a huge no-no. Did you know that stock imagery gets downloaded by thousands of people? This should be reason enough not to use stock imagery as your logo.

If you do this, other people will have access to your logo design and can and will use it in places that will potentially devalue your business. Ensure your logo design is original.


Do it yourself logo design

Closely linked to the stock imagery scenario above, business owners or those wanting a logo will try to do it themselves. I highly recommend against this and suggest you leave the design to a professional, much as you would leave your dental work to a dentist.


Free logo makers

You will find many free online logo makers on the web. Not only do these logos look unprofessional, hundreds of other people could have the same logo as you and what is the point of that? These logos have no thought, concept or memorability about them, they are merely symbols.

They say nothing about your business and do nothing that a logo is supposed to do… I repeat, stay away from free logo makers.


Getting a design without feedback

Before approving and implementing a design, ensure you get feedback from your clients, peers, and stakeholders. Getting feedback on a design is a crucial part of the logo design process as it ensures that your logo is going to be successful.

Take these poor phallic logo designs above. I wonder if they realized their logos had such hidden meaning? Ensure you don’t turn out like this by getting a professionally designed logo.


What is the cost of a professional logo design?

The cost of a professional logo design is a question that cannot be easily answered as every company has different needs, however, the best way to approach this problem is to draw up a customized quote for each individual.

A number of factors have to be taken into consideration when designing a logo, such as how many logo concepts need to be presented, how many revisions are required, how much research is needed, the size of the business and so on.

To wrap up, I’d like to quote a comparison by David Airey: Comparing the design industry to any other is by no means exact, but the, “How much for a logo?” question is kind of like asking an estate agent, “How much for a house?”.

Disclaimer: This article was written exclusively for WDD by Jacob Cass and reflects his personal opinion on logo design. It does not necessarily reflect WDD’s opinion on the subject. Jacob is a professional logo designer who runs the popular blog Just Creative Design

Please share your experiences with logo design below.

  • Brandon Cox

    Amen! A thousand times over! I love the big red X’s and wish all casual logo-seekers would find this article!! Great job Jacob.

    • graphicbeacon

      Very true…Bad News is that most casual logo seekers dont like it when you let them know how wack their logo is.

  • Nokadota

    Thank you for this article. As a designer it irritates me to see companies take the route of holding “contests” just so they can sit back and take their pick of logos/designs. Most people quite honestly don’t do 100% on every single design piece they do. And like you said above, *pay is not guaranteed*. I found a contest for a Canadian telecom company a few months ago but decided against entering it after I thought about it.

    Of course, other people may disagree and find that contests and such may be the best way for them to work. To each his own! Also, stock imagery is a big no-no in my book, unless it is to *supplement* a work, rather than be the focus of it [if done right].

  • Randy Orton

    Written by a true professional logo designer who charges big bucks for logo design! Don’t try doing it yourself…you can’t! Hire me!

    • James Boylan

      This is exactly what I was thinking.

      ‘Don’t do it yourself and certainly don’t try and save money doing it. Come to me! I’ll charge top dollar to give you a 4″x4″ image that while it is a good logo, give you no real sense of accomplishment for designing.’

      No offense, but some of the most unique and interesting logos where ones that an individual thought up for their own project.

      • http://workingonit Chris Aiken

        This article left many readers no choice but to part from their creativity without alternatives for dyi.

        I’d like to say you don’t have to be a pro to design your own flavicon or logo.
        Do a little research into what makes for a unique and compelling logo by taking a look at recent trends in online coolness, and design something that you think will last longer than most trends.

        If it does not work the first time, scrap it, but don’t go to a pro unless you have convinced yourself that is what’s needed, not just based on an article you read.

        Be strong, and your logo will live on…

    • A Randomer

      I concur. Whilst I kind-of agree with many of the points, this strikes me as a very self-preserving article. There are loads of logos out there designed by professionals for big bucks that are just plain tripe.

    • DIY Guy

      Amen to that!

    • Eli

      LOL exactly what I was thinking. I’ve seen the results of logo competitions, they’re quite often surprisingly good.

      Being a graphic designer is tough though, I gave up trying to make money from it and went on to something more profitable. You have my sympathy and support, just don’t put down *everyone* looking to get a logo for under a thousand dollars.

    • Mike

      “…and suggest you leave the design to a professional, much as you would leave your dental work to a dentist.”

      I have to assume Randy doesn’t run/operate his own business or have any idea how important a logo can be for a business. If you provide a quality product/service you need something that is immediately identifiable with what you do. Do you think if Coca-Cola slapped a whole new logo on a new brand of soda and didn’t tell anyone that it would sell as well as their other brands? You can’t be cheap with your logo or people will think your business is cheap, plain and simple.

      • TP

        Design does not run the world. One needs to be humble about design. While I admire the passion for design, it doesn’t always affect the way things work. In the case of a logo, most small to medium-sized businesses don’t really need one which is why many people opt to do it themselves or find a cheap alternative.

        Why don’t they need a “good” logo? Maybe because theirs is a service industry where word of mouth is more important. Or maybe they are dealing with industries where good graphic design doesn’t matter. If I had a business in gardening and had to make a choice between paying a graphic designer and getting a shed full of tools, I’d opt for the latter. If my company sold felt circles for the bottom of furniture feet, I probably wouldn’t bother with a logo.

        Most logos, by the way, do not stick. Those that do stick are those owned by major corporations who have the money to repetitively ad place or sell in huge quantities. Otherwise, they have to be highly inventive, which may be overkill. If your business has money to spare and a large base, sure, go for the win and get a nicely designed logo. However, don’t belittle the person who for budget’s sake has to go generic or cheap in their design.

        Who am I to talk? I’m a designer myself. I value design highly, but don’t look down on so-called pedestrian design. Sure, it hurts my eyes, but I’m a designer. Most people don’t blink twice (sure, they might be impressed with a nice one, but they also might be impressed with a catchy name, slogan, or gimmick instead). Hell, just today I saw an ad for ShamWow and that sticks way more than it’s logo, if it even has one.


        p.s. The thing about bad design is sometimes… the notoriety brings publicity. Those “bad” logos have gotten more Internet traffic than most logos out there.

        p.p.s. Don’t even try to say I’m a bad designer. It takes a good designer to know where when one is not needed.

      • Bee

        I unfortunately disagree with you. Design, to a point, may not be all to a business/corporation, but it is a very large part of it. Design is the entire packaging, it’s what makes businesses appealing. I know for certain that, even if I don’t want to, if a website does not impress me within the first ten seconds I will close the tab and resume my browsing, even if the website is crucial to me (Like say, a dentist that I need to go to). Word of mouth is sadly a very weak concept compared to design, because if I do spread around my website, what will people remember? The exact words I said, or the logo/website? Likely, the latter. Graphic design is incredibly needed because as the expectations for the best possible graphic design increase, fairly unorganized marketing methods like word of mouth will wilt away.

        Of course, if you are targeting logos specifically, they are not the entire website of course, but it seemed as if, as your comment progressed, you were including other forms of design as well?

      • Neurotoxine

        Can’t believe a designer wrote that design is not ALL.

        I remember the first time I realized that every time People do something to resolve a problem is designing a solution. So we do on a graphical, communication-based, brain-moving way. If you think that a Funeral House could go on with its red-devil colors and communicate to its clients that is serious, sober and very quiet… hahaha do some research man. Read some psychology, less than that, color theory… whatever.

        p.s. The thing about bad design is that is always awkward, that to normal people, something doesn’t fit and to designers, the thing that doesn’t fit overflow everything else.

        p.p.s. It takes a bad designer to know not what design stands for. And worse when he can’t even recognize what he does… I think you’re simply confabulating to be in peace with yourself for designing bad things.

    • J. Aaron

      I wish you DIY folks luck. While your business may not fail because of a bad logo, the decision to do it yourself or on the cheap may be indicative of a trend towards poor choices that may kill it.

      Why not build your own website and host it on your home PC? Hosting companies are just greedy like this logo guy, and any kid can make a website, right? Do you ship products to customers? What does FedEx know that you don’t? All they do is but a box in a truck and drive. You have a box and a car, do it yourself!

    • Ron

      Yeah, if this person actually cared about people designing good logos as much as promoting their own service, they’d have described what makes a good logo and a brief overview of the process that they use. If they are as talented as implied, this information would not be any risk to their business.

    • ashton

      Randy is right. I mean, look at this:

      “Closely linked to the stock imagery scenario above, business owners or those wanting a logo will try to do it themselves. I highly recommend against this and suggest you leave the design to a professional, much as you would leave your dental work to a dentist.”

      As a dentist. Drilling into your *head*. Much the same…..

    • auric101

      Nice article, but I gotta agree, you set off alarms with comments like “leave the design to a professional, much as you would leave your dental work to a dentist.” Wait I’m confused now… so um, can a dentist do his own dental work?

    • Binti

      I agree. Nobody has ever died from using a bad font. Bad dentists on the other hand…

    • Gravity

      When it all boils down to it, no-one has claim to a definitive formular for great logo design: it’s generally accepted that the Coke logo was drafted by the inventor’s book-keeper at the time, and the designer of the Nike swoosh was only paid $26 for her design. On the other hand, Wollf Ollins was paid about £5million for the BT logo re-design (an aukward logo that only works in colour ie: not in single colour or reversed – or even at a small size – and was widely panned at the time by the general public as being meaningless).

      Paul Rand made sense when he said: “A logo derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate.”

      Perhaps it’s not the logo that matters as much as what is done with it.

      • kamen

        You have a very good point, I think a logo is like a name, It’s not the name you don’t like it’s what’s (or who’s) attached to the name.

    • A. Russell

      Right… not once did I see the author tout his OWN services, he simply said that you should generally leave designing to a designer (dental work to a dentist, plumbing to a plumber, etc.). If you happen to be one yourself, then by all means, have a go at it.

  • insic

    a big reason why i cant design a logo, and i dont have a logo in my site.

    • Raw Chef Dan

      Me too. I know what I want my logo to suggest but doing it myself just isn’t going to work. I will take bids though

    • itpixels

      same here… it’s been almost two years and i’m still not settled with my logo! have redesigned it for more than 20 times now… :P

  • Paul Annesley

    “Although [sourcing via design contest] sounds like a mighty good deal, the quality is usually far from anything you would want to represent your business.”

    The feedback from 99designs customers after they hold a logo design contest is overwhelmingly to the contrary of your observations – and there’s been about 10,000 of them. Most of them feel that the resulting logo exceeds the quality they were expecting to be able to get, given their budget.

    It’s true that there’s a mixture of quality amongst the many designs that are submitted, but at the end of the day it’s only the winning design that matters to them.

    “designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.”

    Very true – and they don’t have to. Again, the real world feedback from thousands of designers is that they enjoy design contests even if they don’t win, and for many it provides income in excess of what they otherwise earn with limited advertising and promotional budgets.

    Just a counterpoint that some might find interesting.

    • DataMouse

      This article is written by a designer, for designers.
      Contests can be absolutely fantastic for people who want logos. You can get 10,000 made for $100, as you give in an example.

      However, are thesereally going to be the same calibre as one that has been custom made, with two-way feedback, research and development? Of course not.

      If you use a contest, I wish you well. You will get what you pay for.

    • Marcus

      These ‘contests’ take the piss out of the industry, end of. There are thousands of wannabe designers out there, desperate to get into an industry where there simply aren’t enough jobs, and they think by winning a $50 logo design contest will be a fantastic addition to their portfolio & CV and give them a better chance of getting a job or start up a successful freelance career. In truth though, these ‘contests’ only benefit the website that organises these things and receives a commission and the customer who can sit back, save thousands of pounds in creative service fees and take their pick from 100’s of virtually free logos.
      Then the viscous circle begins because this work should make up a part of some designer agency’s annual turnover, but because it isn’t another designer agency is making less money, so there are even less job opportunities for this budding designer.

      Jacob, excellent article but sadly 9 out of 10 businesses won’t give a damn, money talks in most businesses and the office bright spark who gets a logo designed for $50 will most likely get a pay rise for saving the firm thousands.

    • Berthold

      The entire 99designs concept is flawed beyond belief.

      For once, how will customers objectively judge whether their favourite logo is any good? They have no education in design and usually pick the entry that appeals to them personally, which can have dire consequences unless they are actually catering to people like them. In short, all those testimonials mean diddly squat. More than 90% of the winning designs still suck.

      Expecting a design that fits the brief on such a platform is ludicrous, you have a higher chance of striking oil in your basement. No serious designer can afford competing with 98 other designs under the scrutiny of a layman and expect to earn a dime. If you’re good enough to sell one out of 10 designs, think about how much time you will be able to spend researching, sketching, building, gathering feedback, realising, reviewing and finishing each of them. That’s right, zilch.

      If you earn more on 99designs than in a proper job, you’re the equivalent of an illegal immigrant cleaning toilets for a living; you may earn more than as a decent worker in your home country, but it’s still a shitty job.

      Some people may never get it, insisting on doing everything themselves. If you’re lucky, you get something that kinda works. If not, you can and will ruin your business somewhere along the way. If it’s not over the logo, then it’ll be over the DIY you did on your machines or on your office wiring or on your web strategy.

      I’m not forcing anyone to do things the right way. I just want them to know which one it is (hint: 99designs isn’t it).

    • Blerg

      100% in favor of contests. This article ticks me a bit because I’ve gone “old school” with previous ventures. The time and cost to get the limited results of a single artist or firm is nuts. Some firms will even hold the vector art hostage so they can charge you every time you want it used somewhere in a different size. NO THANKS.

      Granted my contest at resulted in over 1000 submissions which were 2% fantastic ideas and 98% junk, but the freedom from being chained to a single firm is worth sifting through the rubble.

      In contrast to the old school method this article praises, I experienced fast turn around times and the freedom to choose among the artists that were producing seriously good works. I communicated directly with the best artists to fine tune the ideas. I got tools for polling friends outside the contest to review the best of the best and I ended up with a vector art LOGO that is fantastic.

      Being educated about logo concepts, good and bad ideas as well as getting as many people familiar with your business to look at submissions during a contest is the way to go. The more eyes that look at it the more you’ll find out how much it “looks like a nose” or something you may have totally missed.

      A better article would be “how to run an effective logo contest”

  • Jason

    What do you think about sites like ? i agree and think investing any time towards something with no guarantee of payment is bad, but there are plenty of designers on that website… i have a friend who participates, but hasn’t won yet :(

    • http://none Gijs

      The designer crowd pictured on the site you mentioned, beautifully reflects the image business have of designers: a grey anonymous blob of people you can drain creativity from. Sad, but it happened before in the music industry: because of the tremendous amounts of money musicians would have to invest themselves otherwise, they have run into the arms of the big industry, selling their music – and souls – happily to them. It only leads to strong polarization of the creatives: On the top those who make millions with the help of the industry, then a wide band of nothingness, and way below, we have the wedding singers, basement recorders, etc.

      With design it will go the same way. In the end, a very small group of designers will be acknowledged by the multi-billion businesses, the rest of the businesses will hire from a huge undervalued crowd of designers that just-didn’t-make-it.

      Unless all designers stop participating in these contests, and knowing what drives a lot of creative people (acknowledgement being valued more than cash on hand), this will happen.

    • kamen

      I used to do 99designs for a while, and lost tons of contests, then I decided I would find someone who was good and find out how many contests they did V.S. how many they won.

      my findings? 2-3 in thousands.

      • Blerg

        Those findings don’t reflect the work of real artists.

        I’m using right now on a logo contest. The best results are zeroing in on 3 talented artists out of a few hundred. I’ll probably work directly with one of them on larger projects.

        These 3 that rose to the top of my contest have a record of winning 4 out of 100 contests.

        A contest only sucks for the untalented artists. The ones that have talent can use it as a lead builder to larger projects.

  • Walter

    I think for designers this is a bad thing as a lot of talent and time gets wasted submitting and competing with hundreds of other designs. Almost like playing the lottery if you ask me.

    As for the end users, if they’re ok with a generic logo, so be it. Many of these logos are very similar and many of these are recycled ideas from logos that didn’t win or slight variations of the ones that did win. A bad bet in my opinion.

    I admit that I’ve tried some of these services in the past, and got my fair share of bad designs. Not only that, but once I’ve found a good design and paid for it, I was later informed by a member of one of these websites that the logo was copied (stolen) from another company. I’m pretty much done with these to be honest. It’s really not worth it, there are plenty of talented logo designers out there, and they deserve some respect.

  • Jacob Cass

    In regards to the “designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment” of course this is every designers own choice, I was merely stating it from my own point of view, but it is a valid counterpoint.

  • Lee Munroe

    I had a prospective client fill out a website planner recently and he attached a tiny poor quality logo stating that he was happy with this logo and that he’d found it online after an extensive search lol

    So there’s another one for the list – Steal someone elses logo.

    Nice article Jacob.

  • Corey Thompson

    This list is greatness. Only thing I could disagree with is the Do It Yourself point. In certain aspects it could be acceptable to do the logo yourself. To me this would be underground zines or any do-it-yourself themed projects. To me it keeps a sense of authenticity to the medium. Very rare though that you could take the do it yourself approach.

  • moser

    Where’s the theory. I thought this was going to be an article on what makes up a good logo. ie: circles are evil, etc, etc…

    • Tim

      That would be “how TO design a Logo.”

    • Donald G Wooten II

      No, no, no this is to protect your talent(worth) whenever you get past theory.

  • The B from the D

    (From D)
    Agreed with everything mentioned in the article *except* for design contests. While the arguments presented do appear to make sense, there are important benefits which bypass them all… to both designers participating in such contests, as well as the clients initiating them.

    By and large, most who participate in such contests are amateurs, and their level of skill is unsurprisingly sub par. The primary goal of these newbies is to attain quick monetary rewards, but what many who are against contests don’t mention are the secondary benefits, that of skill attainment and experience in dealing with clients – both of which are crucial when starting out in the industry. Fact of the matter is everyone had to have started somewhere, and contests are simply the latest and most convenient of places where talented individuals can immediately get a foothold in the industry and make a name for themselves. The reason why many of these so-called ‘professionals’ hate contests is that they diminish the capacity for them and the industry as a whole to charge exorbitant rates and fees for their services. Another is to ensure that any who show promising talent should be put in their place by getting them to spend years learning outdated degree programs, acquire lengthy and mundane corporate experiences, and most important of all – only allow a select few to the upper echelons if the design industry aka circle-jer.. err circle-‘joy’ buddies.

    Clients come in all shapes and forms – those who are able to afford quality service from reputable studios, no doubt charging an arm and a leg whilst doing so, and those who just barely can. Some certainly will not mind splurging out if they can afford to, but not all clients are as well off. Professional designers and design companies may prefer believing otherwise but there are clients who truly cannot afford their rates. So to these clients, opting to do it themselves, or trying out a few contests are probably their only option – they take a chance either way, except with contests with multiple designers participating, there is a higher chance someone with skill might produce someone just perfect for the look of the business and for the price given. If it’s so good, why shouldn’t all companies do such contests? Well for one thing, there is added risk the chosen designer may not be able to provide a complete service to the client, something large studios can. The logo may be perfect but the color may not translate well across different mediums. The logo may look fitting on a white or transparent canvas, but colored or black backgrounds may pose a problem. Some clients will not care, as these issues do not affect them, so the price paid is perfect. For clients who require solutions to these issues however, they get what they paid for exactly – the price of a good logo. In any case, clients win for the most part, as do designers.

    The problem comes in when clients with no sense of taste or style choose lousy amateurish designs from newbies with almost no other skill, and end up with absolutely no after sale service – these clients deserve to get doubly burnt, lose the money and time, and end up with a crap design. Neither contests, nor contract services will help them, so may God have mercy on their soul.

    Thankfully though, while many participating are amateurs, there are also a good number of open-minded professional designers who also take part in such contests, essentially reducing, if not eliminating bad designs from being selected. But why do they participate? Well, it turns out there are yet more benefit to contests those buggers don’t want anyone else to know – portfolio expansion, free advertising, and cheap client base expansion. Pros probably don’t need the money from contests, instead by producing consistently quality designs that score win after win, this will eventually attract the attention of clients who prefer going directly to such designers instead of starting contests themselves (the so-called “right way”). With accomplishments come a bigger and more varied portfolio, just the thing to convince future employers to acquire the designer, or attract more clients. Consistent wins also translate to free advertising from clients and even designers themselves. As the word spreads, this particular designer will be flooded with business in no time. The problem for them is to simply sort out the highest paying customers, regretfully inform those offering less, and complete the work. If the designer is good, he’d allow market forces to give him the desired high income he deserves from his now rich skill template, rather than suffocating the industry through his influence.

    Those in the no-spec camp can umm, go to a bad burning place of utter darkness.

  • Kyle

    While I’m no expert, I don’t think the best answer to any sort of art/design/anything is “hire someone that’s better at it”. Yeah, it’s a lot easier and will result in less crap flooding the web, but learning to do something yourself and really getting it done well (or at least semi-decently) is a great experience.

    I do agree when it comes to companies though. They shouldn’t be cutting corners on design if they want to maintain a professional look.

  • Ian Hutchinson

    Personally, I think graphic designers (and web developers too) are always underrated. I don’t think people realise the value and work behind getting a logo right, as opposed to it just appearing out of nowhere and being as pleasing and as effective as it should.

  • Alif Rachmawadi

    As I know design is not about apperance only, it’s about soul and presence. Using general design for an unique product is bad. Inspiring me and frustating me, as I can’t design well. *LOL*

  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana

    I think the biggest problem is eductation!

    Most clients are ‘design illiterate’, they don’t know what outcome to expect and what makes a good logo (criteria to judge whatever the design present to them).

    As a result most clients choose a logo based on its aesthetics.

    I wrote an article similar to this beginning of last year.

  • mkjones

    I disagree with the point about contests as large logo design projects are often placed out to tender to 5+ design firms or freelancers. This is essentially the same thing.

    For example, the much loved Obama ’08 logo was borne out of a ‘contest’ of sorts.

    Sadly, it can go wrong as the London 2012 Olympics logo was also subject to a similar process.

    As for the rest of the points, pretty much spot on ESPECIALLY the one about DIY logos.

    I worked on a web project last year and they already had a logo which was based on a city skyline silhouette (made in Word BTW):

    I tried my best to improve the original but I still find it quite hard on the eyes.

  • Abbas

    There’s definitely a market out there for the low-cost logo. When I started out I built up a great deal of experience working for almost nothing, it got me where I am today, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I would work solidly for a couple of hours on two ideas, the business would pick one and that’s that.

    That’s why I still continue to offer an affordable service alongside my premium options. There will always be a builder, electrician or a roofer who needs more business, so needs an identity to put on an advert.

    The larger companies would never go for the low-cost option though. I’ve worked on some branding projects that have gone on for months that have had me tearing my hair out, but were worth it when the pay cheque came.

  • John Davis

    I dunno, there are some really good, quality logo making programs out there for those that do not have or know how to use Photoshop.


    • F. Martin

      Professionals don’t design logos in Photoshop.

      The commercial print version which requires it to be a vector file. (ie: Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Freehand even MS Visio etc.) always comes first.

      Required for things like Channel Letter Signeage (my last job), one color t-shirts (my son learned this one the hard way because he wouldn’t listen to me) and foil printing, etc.

      The web version comes after everything else.


    • Donald G Wooten II

      Huh? This isn’t about software. It’s about ideology. An ideology that is harmful to professionals. The limitations of your software may falsely label you amateur. Be careful.

  • Rob

    I might not design the logo myself, but I definitely will not use your service.

  • Andrew Badera

    As a software guy who has felt the pain of seeing his profession commoditized, I do empathize. Yep, it sucks. Your job is to either demonstrate the value of using YOU over such alternatives, or to move on and let them learn their lesson. Maybe they’ll never learn their lesson, maybe they’re incapable of learning. Maybe they’ll come back to you later when they’ve learned their mistake. Maybe not.

    The last freelance designer I worked with on a logo just wasn’t listening to me. Also, I think he was drunk constantly. In no way am I saying this is a representative experience, but it has left my business site (a wreck of its own) with a less than optimal logo, and underwhelming motivation to go with a so-called “professional” freelance designer for a new logo. If I can buy a logo package from an established small business for $500, and get guaranteed professionalism and high production values, what motivates me to go with an independent?

  • Ed

    As a designer, I agree with you a 100%. I don’t do a great deal of logo work for every reason you have described here. The average Joe, the internet user, won’t be able to tell the difference between a classic logo design process and a 5 min design yourself template site. Which is a shame really. Most of the time it is not even worth trying to explain the difference, it is easier/cheaper to just let it go.

  • MJ

    I recently paid $350 USD to have two logos created (both very similar – same font and colours used, just different text and a slight alteration to the graphic). I think I got a great price, as the logos are professional and look great, and are also in vector format, so I can produce different sizes as needed for web, print, etc.

  • Nick

    Insightful and right to the point! Awesome article. Great work, Jacob. :)

  • Martin Lee

    This article is 100% on the money. So many bad logos out there done quickly by amateurs with little thought or talent.

    The other major thing to remember is that the logo is only a fraction of the companies brand. Typography, colour, photography and tone of voice all work together to make up the personality of a companies communication and marketing.

  • Stan

    I wish I could show this to all my potential clients. Entrepreneurs need to understand that your logo is much more than just a symbol…it’s what people are going to remember you by.

    Bytheway, if you are need a logo…visit


  • XERO

    Excellent article !! however i would like to ask that how important is a logo for a free blog ? I have seen many blogs and professional websites of companies with sloppy logos.


  • nixter

    If you can spot a bad Logo, you should be able to recognize a good one, you should therefore be able to design your own and know when you have a good one.

    • jams

      This is such a stupid comment. That’s like saying, If you can identify good music you should be able to compose it, or if you can drive a car, you should be able to fix one. The two abilities (taste vs. design skill) are completely unrelated.

      It’s one thing to be able to appreciate the well thought-out qualities of a good logo, but that does not mean that it’s easy to come up with one for yourself. Good logos are very hard to design, take lots of work, and most importantly, require lots plenty of design knowledge.

  • Kaden

    Unfortunately, Professional Logo Designers™ have a fairly dismal track record of late… The Pepsi and Xerox rebranding exercises (and associated price tags) point overwhelmingly towards the conclusion that the field lies fallow.

    BTW, you do realize that both the ‘Head’ and ‘DVV’ logos you cite were the product of design houses who employ *many* Logo Design Professionals™, don’t you?

    Irony FTW

    Sorry dude, but if your marketing strategy includes articles like this, which reads like the avuncular guidance provided ‘as a courtesy’ by entrenched mid ’50’s professional associations, you don’t know marketing.

    And if you don’t know marketing, you shouldn’t be designing logos. Period.

  • Ryan D.

    Well, all though I agree that a logo is important not everyone has thousands to spend on a logo so the services you’ve listed above come in handy. The people that use those services(including myself) either A.) Don’t have a lot of money to spend on a logo or B.) Don’t think it really matters in the grand-scheme of things. Let me explain.

    As a developer(web and application) I probably prototype and create a couple websites and applications a month. Most of these programs I need logos for but there is no way I’m going to drop a ton of money on logos for each program, that would be thousands of dollars each month on just logo design. *Nuts*. So, I’ve used, and still do use three of the services you listed above. I’ve used the design contest site three times and I was happy with the results twice. I’ve use a logo service once and I was really happy with the price and service. And, mostly I use the self serve model mixed with stock images. For me this works, for others it wont but to say that using any of these services is bad is wrong. Everything has a purpose and these services fill my purpose and I’m sure a lot of others.

    * I will say this though. If any of my products every takes off or I feel that I will need to present myself to anyone important I would probably pay to have a proper design done. This holds true for not only the logo but the website, icon(s), images and even the text(not designer but copywriter).

    *Also, as a web design site obviously most the people are going to agree; no designer is going to say it’s okay to use an out of the box solution but sometimes it is. ;-)

  • economy

    you heard of the recession right? i get that you’re tryin to make a buck and 99designs is pissing you off, but please dude, this thing wreaked of “AHHH I NEED A CHECK AND TO JUSTIFY TO MY PARENTS THAT STUDYING LOGO DESIGN IN COLLEGE WAS WORTH IT” – really transparent.

  • jeff Fisher LogoMotives

    Great piece Jacob! You’ve provided educational advice for both designers and potential clients.

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  • abc

    Good points here, but the last comment,
    Comparing the design industry to any other is by no means exact, but the, “How much for a logo?” question is kind of like asking an estate agent, “How much for a house?”
    is just totally disingenuous. You’ve spent an entire article complaining about cheap alternatives to logo design – and made a number of good points – but you offer absolutely nothing in comparison in terms of what one should expect to pay for a ‘genuine’ logo.
    If I ask a real estate agent ‘how much for a house’, he’d almost certainly, quickly reply with something along the lines of ‘well, it depends on what you’re looking for and how much you are willing to spend, but the average 3 bedroom 2 bath in this area is currently going for X. If you want a pool expect to pay a bit more.’ etc.

    Since this rant is basically aimed at the small to medium business owner, I think it would have been pretty reasonable to provide a general estimate for the ‘2 simple examples’ case you mentioned. If you can’t provide a legitimate alternative then you’ve no right to complain about the cost-cutting measures business owners make in order to make ends meet.

  • Chris W.

    Logo contests are not always bad. As long as designers don’t steal or use stock logos, it’s their choice to enter. If they’re good (and some of the designers on that site are REALLY good) then they’re going to win a lot of contests and make a lot of money. If they’re bad (or just starting their career), they’re going to get constructive criticism, good feedback, and build a portfolio quickly.

    While I agree the crowdsource method is not the best and spec work is unacceptable in most cases, it’s great for the industry because A. people that have used it only to receive a crappy or stolen logo won’t use it again and WILL shell out the money for a real one next time around and B. designers need to gain experience somehow and what’s better than a real project with real requirements to practice, receive feedback and get better?

    Also, 9 times out of 10 my new clients have been screwed over in the past by a designer or a firm and it’s great for me because then they’re extremely impressed by what I have to offer, after seeing the other side of the coin.

    • Serena

      Logo contests are simply bad business for graphic designers in the long run. If you’re a good graphic designer, and you undervalue your work– you are forcing all other good graphic designers to lower the value of their work as well in order to compete with you. Because there will be the occasional good graphic designer doing spec work, just as there are bad graphic designers working in agencies.

      And while competition is the heart of capitalism, there comes a point where low– is too low. Even in the U.S. doesn’t operate on a pure capitalistic model. There is minimum wage. It is illegal for companies to hire workers lower than that amount. The reason is because there will always be that one person willing to work for $2 or less. Companies would love to find those workers. Once there is enough of them, there’s no reason to pay anyone *8.50. The gap between the rich and poor grow exponentially. As a whole– it is bad for the entire community, and its true for all professions.

      The reality is people always want something for nothing. And if you are willing to give your professionalism for nothing, you are hurting the entire business.

      Just my two cents.

  • arnar

    Stock Imagery is actually a good place to start, when throwing around ideas. The final logo, however, should not just be stock imagery + custom text.

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  • Chuck

    Of course you’re right about a pro being far and away the best way to go. But you’re not dealing with the reality of today’s internet…which is mostly about fluff and filler and doing everything on a dime (or less). In those cases, a logo design contest at DP is exactly what you want: $10 for something barely better than one could cobble together for one’s self.

    But frankly, this post sounded more like a self-affirmation therapy session for design pros who are feeling neglected.

    I did like the “Without Feedback” examples, though. ;-)

  • Chris

    Love the perspective, intuitive, convincing.

    But I think your article exposes pervasive misperception for many creative fields (design, copy-writing, etc), greatly enhanced by ubiquitous, cheap technology, overseas labor, and “automated” business models like the ones you reference.

    While this democratization of the creative industry might be seen as a good thing — less hierarchical, more accessible — it poses a challenge to the craft-oriented pro’s who have dedicated years and taken out design school loans in an effort to refine and finesse their product output with subtlety and grace.

    The way that we have managed to cope with this differential in expectation is to be very clear about our process, price-points, and to be honest about the vertical level of our customer base. We are clear that our rate is $75/hour for design and development services, and this appeals to a very specific niche, and affords a fairly specific number of iterations per design.

    This clarity saves time for both our leads/customers, and us as a business. And over time, we’ve built a great satisfied customer base.

    That all said, I have to concur with the comments of Paul Annesley (#5), having utilized 99designs (only in a pinch!), the community of which has produced some good designs and displayed impressive sensitivity. This process does, however, miss some of the intimacy of a true custom design process.

  • Kristine Putt

    Nice, Jacob.

    I recently had the displeasure of educating another designer as to why these contests are a bad idea. His take on it was, “Why bother working with clients that don’t understand? Just focus on the ones that do.” Point taken. But in my opinion, it’s our ethical responsibility to continue educating ourselves, fellow designers and the general population as to what effective design is really all about. If all we do is focus on the ones that “get it,” we will soon run out of prospective clients. Continuing to educate – as you have done with this post – is invaluable to every designer and every business owner.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • David

    Logo design contests are great, its the only way I go. I get my pick of 5-10 designs for less then $20.

    Designers these days are a dime a dozen, be happy you get the work.

    • Rudy Gardea

      Too bad you have such a low opinion of design. Design can save lives. Bad designers are a dime a dozen. You know the Design Witch Doctors that buy a computer then discover gradient boxes, Apple Chancery and start offering their business of hire? Good designers take the time to consider the details of clearly stated visual communication. Sensitivity to the needs of the client should be job. Remember you get what you pay for whether it be Motel 6 or the Ritz. I’d be curious to see your Motel 6 solutions for $20.

      • erin

        i agree and although you might get something that “kinda” works for your business or whatever for $5 a good designer wont just draw something nice up, he or she will actually put a lot of thought into the whole image of your business and create an entire concept to go along with it that will actually represent everything that your company is so that when people see the image it should stick with them representing what you want to show… that is why a good designer costs more, because youre getting something that will help your business grow and not just some pretty image that people will forget after 5 minutes because it has absolutely no meaning at all

    • pierre

      Go kill yourself douchebag. We are happy we get the work. We get the work for being attentive to the clients needs, and doing better work than people who essentially work for free.

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  • Melanie Maddison

    Have you ever thought that all site owners can’t afford a small fortune for a logo?
    I do not disagree that a site logo is very important but seriously … how much would you have charged me for your logo on this site? It is beautiful work … but how much for it?

  • Josh Ames

    Logo design contests are terrible for the design industry. It’s as simple as that. Contests promote spec work, which hurt professionals. Doing work and not getting paid for it is a bad road to follow and design students should be learning this. Learning the business aspects of the creative industry is just as important as the creative work itself.

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  • Timothy

    HAHAHA. Those “without feedback” pictures are hilarious.

  • Jon

    This was a disappointing article. There’s no substance to it other than ‘hire a logo designer,’ which is a self-serving message and therefore suspect in my book. There is also room for amateurs in the field, but you totally discourage that, too. How about leave the article writing to someone that does that professionally?

    • Donald G Wooten II

      Whoa! Eventually (and based on your atitude, I’m being optimistic) you will get to a point where you want be paid accordingly for your work or you want an identification system that is worth more than $50. Maybe on that day, you will know why this article is kind of a big deal to Professional Designers. Until then I offer this advice, keep looking for tutorials to magically make you a better designer (for Free), pay for life drawing classes, intern(slave) for a Design Agency, spend several thousands dollars on a field with no license, buy (or steal) the Adobe CS platform and then humbly except all of the CRITICISM from laymen who’s only effort was a websearch + a phone call.
      Do you understand people recognize your logo before your business model or philosophy. If your philosophy is cheap, than that says it all……..

  • P Smith

    Although a well written article, is a fantastic concept and the quality of designs there exceed many i’ve seen from expensive design specalists. We got a fantastic logo designed there.

  • Mr Pleb

    Please do not degrade my business model. I am proud to have created a website, which sells poorly crafted, cookie-cutter and often stolen logo ideas, from an off-shore location so I am immune to copyright lawsuits. I hired some poor schmucks from rentacoder on the cheap to build me the site in a customizable fashion, so that I can purchase 100’s of domains, make each site look unique and flood Google with all my sites, making it impossible for anyone to find a decent company. Not only that, but my supposed business contact address is actually some warehouse out in the middle of nowhere.

    I’m not making an absolute fortune with it, but it generates some revenue every month.

    I also happen to be one of those annoying people, who buy previously used domains and turn them into those useless search portals. And I also sell crappy website templates.

    Mr Pleb

    (Yes, I’m joking)

  • rickblank

    Uh. Yeah. Of course logo contests cheapen the industry. But, so what? A beginning designer needs portfolio pieces, an experienced designer might need to make a little extra scratch and the business owner gets something rather than just two overlapping letters. Besides, time and again, I’ve been called in to redesign a logo created by some owner’s nephew or niece and THEN they get it.

    Besides, let’s face it, the days of a design firm getting paid $1M to create a new logo for AT&T are over.

  • Billy-Bob

    Painfully self serving. A website representing used car salesman might give similar advice to foolish little people who imagine they can choose a suitable car and negotiate a reasonable price for it.

  • ebk

    Not necessarily disputing what you are saying, but I would like to point out your argument loses weight when you use MS Paint to ‘X’ out the poor logos.

    • Mario

      LOL … damn right.

  • Mike

    I completely agree with Paul (#5) and dont think this was a good article. It talks about how to NOT design a logo and pointing out the flaws associated with the different “normal” ways of finding companies, but doesn’t give any positive direction towards a PROPER way to find a qualified design company. Regardless, as a new startup business owner, I have used 99designs for my logo and am currently using it for my website design and I ABSOLUTELY have loved the end result from it! Yes, you are right, sometimes there are HORRIBLE designs that are submitted, and some of them use iStockPhotos in the design, but there are also many qualified designers on there that make substantially higher income than they would working for another company. A lot of designers also use sites like this to help get their foot into the design world by establishing clients, building a portfolio, helping them keep the design spark in them, etc. Going by your article, I still dont know how to find a “qualified place” to do design work – what are the requirements, where to find them, what is acceptable $ rate? None of these questions were answered. Regardless, I have been overly satisfied with my results from these competition sites and will continue to use them. There is no difference between crowdsourcing design work and having Requests for Proposals either by the government or for other companies designing a model of what a new building would look like before built – no guarantee they win the contract.

    -Satisfied crowdsourcing contest holder.

  • Ken D.

    I work in the Architectural field, the contest is very similar to a design submittel. We do this all the time so the client can get a feel for which firm has the best grasp of the ideas that is desired. If the firm is placed on a short list, they are then paid to develop the idea further. The pay is usually just enough to flesh out the shape and plan with no detail at all. From there the client chooses the one Architect for the job.

  • Richard

    Credit to b3ta for the phalic logs?

  • Situs Humor

    Yeah.. agree with you..

    a logo is a small but not easy i think..

  • Angela Quattrano

    I’ve got you all beat. The absolute worst way to get a logo designed is to go on Yahoo Answers and ask for a complete stranger to volunteer to do it for you for free. I see that question on the site every day.

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  • Mark

    This is the fear mongering from the “designers” who try to hopelessly overcharge for their … ehrm… “professional” logo design.

    Let’s be clear: designer = often talented artist who never made the leap into the *real world, and is desperately trying to make money off a personal hobby

    That’s like me trying to make a career out of rock climbing. Possible, not likely. Maybe I’d find odds and ends ways to make a (barely) living from it, sure.

    Also, nobody gives a shit about your logo. Unless you’re a Fortune 1000 and investing huge dollars into name recognition, for 95% of businesses out there, who. gives. a. shit. I have built and sold several passably successful businesses, so I’m not entirely clueless on the topic, and if you are building a small biz, the last thing you need to spend time, capital, and worry on is your stupid logo.

    Only one person cares, and that’s you. Your customers care about getting value for their money, ie. the product or service you provide. IF they find you that is, meaning you spending a lot of time to get in front of people (and by that I don’t mean you as in some artfully designed squiggly lines).

    *real world = place where $ is paid for skills that tangibly contribute to revenue generation, a place where 0.0000001% of designers are a) truly able to translate a corporate image into a compelling visual and b) anybody with real money and a serious business needs that talent – and all those guys work for AGENCIES.

    Get a $20 logo. Or pay a starving artist about 100 bucks if it really makes you happy.

    • dt

      yes. thank you. couldn’t have said it better

    • Serena

      I find your comment needlessly rude. If designers never make the leap into “the real world,” and are barely living off their “personal hobby”– then why is it that there are jobs paying 45k (entry) upwards of 100k (senior) a year?

      If nobody gives a shit about your logo, when why do Fortune 100’s businesses invest so much money into their name recognition? You don’t think, that the most successful enterprises in the world are onto something? That maybe, just maybe, building your brand and image of trust is the MOST important thing?

      It could be the thing that raises your “passably successful” business into a very successful one. There are many services out there that do your job just fine– you need to convince your customers that you are superior. One of the best ways is to at least look professional. Take a look at the before and after on Jacob’s logo/website redesign.

      You really don’t think the latter will attract customers simply because it looks well designed? And if top notch designers can do this, why shouldn’t we take it to the bank?

    • Matt Sepeta

      I don’t even know how to refute your arguments, but I’ll try.

      How can you compare Graphic Design to Rock Climbing??? Rock climbing results in (direct) benefits for only ONE party, the rock-climber!

      The rock climber climbs the rock. He gets a work out, it relaxes him, he feels proud, etc, whatever.
      Graphic pro creates a logo for a small company. The logo is well thought out, recognizable, desirable, and informational. The logo is provided in multiple formats, different color options, etc. Small company says ok, and pays $xyz.ab for the logo.

      How can you not see the benefits?

      PS I doubt you really “built and sold several passably successful businesses.”

  • Elaine B.

    I concur. Under no circumstances should anyone work without the guarantee of payment. Unless of course, you like working for free.

  • Rich Gould

    Love this post. Logo design contests are the worst!

  • Mike N

    Sounds like it was written by a logo designer looking to justify high fees – short on design tips, long on reasons you should pay more for it.

  • Flack

    Wow, this sounds like a pretty one-sided article from someone with a vested interest to me. Why is it not surprising that a website geared toward web designers would try and talk people out of making logos themselves, holding contests or using stock/free imagery? Gee, I guess that only leaves one choice. This reminds me of last year’s press release where water bottle companies said that refilling water bottles is dangerous to our health and that we should all stop doing that immediately (which is free) and continue buying water bottles full of water from them. What a crock.

    I’m not saying there’s not some good advice in this article, but it doesn’t appear to be very neutral in tone.

  • Steve Horvath

    An exception (much to our young glee) was the deliberate (I believe) HEAD skis logo.

    Hell, we bought HEAD skis just for the logo!

  • Liciia H

    It is a good article, but I do take issue with the contest part. If a company is a startup and has a very limited budget, why not look to a contest site to help design your brand? I have seen some amazing things on Worth1000’s “jackpot” contests – designs that would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars if done professionally.

    Also, contests are a great way for graphic design students to hone skills – especially if there is good feedback on your entry.

  • Jim

    Excellent list. I wrote an article a long time ago titled “9 rules to creating a logo you can live with and still get paid” that covers even more on the subject:

    And by the way, have you guys heard of LogoInstant? – they give away logos – free… Un-be-freakin-lievable!

  • glen

    I could care less about a logo; I look quality of product and/or service a company offers. My opinion of a company is based mostly on reviews… NOT a logo. I pay no mind to a logo. Would Google have failed if the letters in their logo were all black rather than pretty colors? Nope. Would people close all their Yahoo! accounts if Yahoo! decided to go with a logo that was designed for free? People don’t care. These companies got great reputations from the servises they offer–not a silly logo.

    A logo is next nothing. Give the people what they want and they’ll be happy.

  • mkjones

    I disagree with the point about contests as large logo design projects are often placed out to tender to 5+ design firms or freelancers. This is essentially the same thing.

    For example, the much loved Obama ’08 logo was borne out of a ‘contest’ of sorts.

    Sadly, it can go wrong as the London 2012 Olympics logo was also subject to a similar process.

    As for the rest of the points, pretty much spot on ESPECIALLY the one about DIY logos.

    I worked on a web project last year and they already had a logo which was based on a city skyline silhouette (made in Word BTW):

    I tried my best to improve the original but I still find it quite hard on the eyes.

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  • Jimbo Pope

    I am a freelance web developer by trade and have used logo design contents many times. In particular

    I set out my requirements pay a very small sum to start my competition. After which I wait for the designs to come rolling in. If I don’t like any then I can walk away without paying a penny more. More often that not the designs are of excellent quality and I choose one to my liking.

    Sounds like you’re worried about competition from these sites.

  • Ezzal

    Yea, you are correct.. price is not important.. its all about Quality !

  • support

    In this article, a logo designer thinks you should spend a lot of money on logo design. Shocking turn of events. Good luck in the economic downturn.

  • Andrew

    Thank you a million times over! Let this not JUST pertain to logo design, but to the whole damn internet-based commercial art world.

    Loved your closing line, “Comparing the design industry to any other is by no means exact, but the, “How much for a logo?” question is kind of like asking an estate agent, “How much for a house?””

  • Jeremy

    This sounds more like propaganda in order to discourage people from trying their own hand at a design, or to discourage amateurs/upstarts from designing a logo.

    No really, the way your presented this article reminds me of the guy who tried to sell me his truck a year ago (I didn’t buy it).

  • Brandon

    What you didn’t mention is that it is usually ILLEGAL under the terms and conditions of most stock sites to use stock vectors as logos. That’s a huge reason not to use stock for a logo because you most likely will be dealing with legal issues.

  • non-designer

    You designers are funny, most people who are not designers have no care about logos. Particularly in today’s economy people want goods for the right price they don’t care about the logo on the item or store.

  • onesmallpoint

    Sergey Brin made the original google logo, and it seems to have fared well over the years.

  • Frank Tate

    First off, I want to say that I completely agree with *some* of your statements, but others really depend on the size of company and the goal of the logo. I’ve used to find designers for two logos that I was very happy with. Each charged about $300, and I truly like the design. One is at (the big G with our name under it) and the other is at While neither is completely revolutionary, they’re MUCH better than I could have done, and, like I said, I like them both.

  • Kris Hunt

    This type of article has been done so many times already. Why bother?

  • Lisa Ghisolf

    Great article and very timely!

  • David

    Wow, could this article be more self-serving? You act as if designing a logo is akin to painting the Sistine Chapel. It’s logo design! Anyone with a little artistic talent and some common sense can come up with a logo that doesn’t turn the mind to thoughts of penises and anal rape. There is some good advice in here about using the logo “makers” but for the most part the point of the article is to assign some difficultly level to designing a logo that simply doesn’t exist.

  • Keith

    There is not really 1 solid answer to this question. For a large company I can definitely see handling your logo design with an identity design firm that can consult about all the various aspects that are impacted by a full identity design. That’s a huge deal and there certainly are no ways to cut corners if you want it done both professionally and correctly.

    That said, there is plenty of room for logo contest style sites in the marketplace. Not everyone’s needs are the same. A small non-profit looking to spruce up letterhead, or their web presence, but lacking in financial resources, will likely find those sites a great source for logos and designs.

    The argument I always hear is that it devalues the work of designers and design firms. No designers and design firms are competing for work in this way. Similarly, companies that would traditionally go to a design firm for their identity design work aren’t going to logo contest sites. So the effects of this non-professional market on the professional market and their “value” are negligable at best because they serve two totally different sets of clientelle.

    The bottom line is finding what is the best product for your company. That’s a matter of judgement.

  • Brad McCall

    I’ve had many clients come to me with lower budgets than I could accomplish their logo with. Rather than turn them away because they couldn’t afford me, I’ve referred them to, a company that a friend of mine started and later sold to HP. The majority of them have been pleased with the result. So some of those “Too Good To Be True” logo design companies have their place in this world, and I’m glad they do. It allows me to charge a premium price for a premium service and leave the unrealistic timelines and low budgets to the other guys.

  • Rich

    re: Stock photography for logos

    To further illustrate your point about stock images in logos, on iStockphoto it is against the license agreement to use purchased images for incorporation into a logo.

  • Mike

    when I first clicked the link to this page, I thought you were just going to show the OKC Thunder logo, which would have summed up all your points nicely. :D

  • Mike

    The one logo that always gets me is the one for the Mayflower moving vans… It looks like a hand giving the middle finger (hull of “mayflower” is the palm, bow of the ship looks like the thumb, and the sails look like fingers).

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  • Jonathan Patterson

    Mostly good advice but I have to disagree with the “feedback” comment. Everybody has an opinion. “Design by committee” is never a good way to come up with something that needs to meet a definitive creative problem. You need to be qualified (briefed on the objective) to give accurate feedback.

  • Dave

    Whatever you say– the LogoInstant guys are still awesome

  • Dan London

    One good thing about the Logo Contest sites is that it does allow budding designers to get experience creating designs. It might not pay off for them now, but the experience hopefully lets them develop into better designers.

  • Lawrence Anderson

    Great post Jacob. Glad to see that lots of people are reading it.

  • Designer

    nice article……. thanks for the post

  • Richard Valdez

    I have personally had a good experience with In fact, the only problem I had was making the final choice! There were at least 4 designs I thought were good.

  • Joey

    The underlying problem with your post is a ‘designer’ isn’t a specialized position like it was, 5 to 10 years ago. Today’s computer users are mostly comfortable manipulating images and are pretty good with photoshop. So getting clients to actually sit down and commission a logo from one person is only going to get harder.

    As a client looking for a logo, I would rather go with a contest and have 20 or 30 people take a swing at my design. At least (for 50-100 bucks) I’ll have a better idea of where I want to take my logo, and how I may or may not use the final design. But I bet it will get me to a starting point on where to go with the final few iterations of that logo. And it’s better to spend the big bucks at that point, than drop a few grand up front and have what pops out be mediocre.

    The reality of today is people have tools out there to do your job for free. Granted years of training and degrees do give you a leg up, but that advantage will be narrowed as more and more common people get used to things like photoshop (or all it’s open source competitors) and have access to the same level of training on the web.

    And that’s what it comes down to if you want to be a good designer…practice and research. Something I really don’t need a degree or guidance on. Once I’ve built up enough of a portfolio, I can go job hunting…and will continue to participate in the ‘design contests’ because it’s something I love to do…not something I need to get paid for.

    • kostoas

      you are a retard right?

      you will design a logo with photoshop?

      and what gonna happened when you will have to put your logo in a print or even in a big add?

      this is one of the reason that people who has access in our tools will never become a designer

      open the photoshop and draw some stuff even if they are really beautiful doesn’t make you a designer

      in design they are rules lot’s of rules and that why i studied in university for 4 years… you think i was a stupid person or that nobody can not makes money from design

      look to the history of coca-cola and you will understand why design is really important why people studied design and why some people get payed million of dollars to design a single logo like what happen in England olimbics games

      P.S. sorry for my bad english i am from greece

  • Jared

    The only problem I have with this article is the notion that it takes months to complete a logo. Most of my clients don’t have “months” or want to wait “months” for their logo design. Not only that, but you can have an idea for a logo the first day you read the brief and have it done in the next day or two visually perfect if you know what you’re doing. 8/10 of my first concepts are approved with at the most a very minor revision. Just because you get a fast result doesn’t mean “no thought has been put into the design”. That’s absolutely ridiculous. If you’re a good designer, you know the target market for the logo you’re producing, you build an understanding of the client’s industry, and you know how the logo will be used and you use that information in your logo’s design.

    Just my opinion on the matter. I’d need about 10 pages to fill in the gaps but I’ll leave it at that.

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  • Jonathan Patterson

    Photoshop should not be used to design a logo. A vector program like Adobe Illustrator is prime.

    People use the term “designer” haphazardly. A lot of people call themselves designers but they really just know how to make something look pretty. A true designer can come up with a concept-driven solution, is not bound to one style and makes decisive aesthetic decisions tailored to the end-use of the piece.

  • Jonathan Patterson

    @Jared- you make a good point.

    There’s a big difference when you come up with a logo for a small company versus a large company. Large companies usually have multiple key officers who are in on the decision while smaller companies have one or two people that need to be satisfied. This directly relates to how long the logo design process can take.

  • Steve S

    Hi Jacob, thanks for putting on the web what we’ve been telling clients and prospects for ever.

  • Mr. Anon

    Biased article.

    Can anyone say “conflict of interest”.

    Trying to drum up business for himself etc etc etc.

  • Jah

    Great point, no one should ever attempt to design a logo themselves, because they don’t know the secrets of this highly scientific, complicated and difficult process. Puhleeeze.

  • Adam Snider

    Telling people what not to do, without providing viable alternatives is pointless. Of course, this is a self-serving article and what you’re really telling people is, “Hire me!” But, you realized that it was probably a bit too obvious and tacky to say it outright so, instead you’ve just failed to provide alternatives or estimates of what may be an average price for a logo.

    As abc (#16) said, it’s disingenuous to claim that you can’t give at least a vague estimate. Your real estate analogy falls apart for exactly the reasons that abc pointed out.

    • foobar

      He does offer an alternative though, It was spend an ass ton of money on a professional designer! Obviously this article was just written in the hopes of trumping up his own business as a logo designer.

  • Gazzbot

    I love all the expert “stars” commenting on this article. Love the photos….why, I felt like I was at a photographers looking for models to use in my next “graphic designer” modelling shoot! Why, I betcha some of you have been designing as experts for almost 2 or three years now!!!!!! But, in all seriousness, this was a great article. And, once you’ve delt with clients that have been using every trick in the book…and now the net…for over 25 years, you’ll be able to look back at this and say, “gee! NOTHING HAS *cking changed!” Happy designing…oh, and you may want to learn Chinese. LOVE the black and white style glamour shots! And the close ups! That isn’t over used is it?

  • veebis

    The result is king; if it works, it doesn’t matter who or where it came from (see Nike).

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  • J. Aaron


    You mention the availability of tools like Photoshop, but remember it is just a tool. Knowing how to use it is not a substitute for design talent. Hammers and saws have been readily available for centuries. How many people do you know who built their own homes? How many look for the most cut-rate carpenter, or hold “build me a house” contests? Unfortunately, the availability of digital tools gives people the mistaken impression that tools are all they need to get a job done.

    Does the Ma & Pa bakery need a high concept, top-notch logo? Of course not. However, many start-ups begin with stars in they eyes, envisioning a huge future. If they were committed to this goal, they would realize the importance of their brand and put it in the hands of a pro.

  • haoest

    regarding> Every company is different, so it makes sense to tailor a quote to your individual needs.

    so if one company is small and underfunded, where its money should be spent on something more important, why should they not use a custom-quick logo design that doesn’t break their piggy bank?

  • ffpimp

    Our site,, got the logo designed from a contest at 99designs.

    The results? Absolutely AMAZING.

    Sorry, but who needs to hire a designer when you can have 100 compete for $500?

    • Chris Wallace

      HAHA. A bunch of copied Firefox logos…. that sort of proves the point about the issues with logo contests.

    • Jason

      Sorry, I fail to see where any of those logos are AMAZING. They all look cheap and done by amateurs.

  • Dude

    Gotta say it, but The B from the D #12 is far more on then the article really was. I am a designer, with an MBA to boot. Elitism is going to be the death of the creative artistic industry. I have no care for time spent or lost on a design. If it doesn’t get used today, it could be valuable tommorrow, no matter if it is in parts or if it is purely by experience gained. I can’t count the number of projects that i have done for free, that have provided an extreme degree of growth as a designer, as well as an increase in my personal visibility.

  • Boemba

    You know the swoosh only costed 35 bucks?

    • rob

      Yep, Philip Knight (owner) paid a student to do it…he also pays little children in Indonesia .04 per hour to make shoes that cost you and I 50.00+…thanks for the reference.

  • Edgqard

    I’ve it designed myself and everyone loves it and I have successfully used a dremel instead of a dentist (no kidding).

  • yourmama

    “designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.”
    Right, and musicians should never have to submit music on spec either. Same thing.

  • Active

    Quality ….perhaps we should have gone there!

  • Gopal Raju

    A must read article for logo designers.

    Gopal Raju,

  • sure

    “Written by a true professional logo designer who charges big bucks for logo design! Don’t try doing it yourself…you can’t! Hire me!” – Randy Orton

    Amen to that, you want big bucks for drawing pretty pictures. While some of the things you say in this article may be true, they are irrecoverably tainted by your profession.

  • Workpost

    I’d like to see more ways for the clients who WANT quality design (and who are willing to pay for it) to quickly find great designers. There’s plenty of contests and cheap deals now but finding designers who may be expensive but who can deliver exceptional quality and unique logos is not so easy.

    Some people are always going to want cheap + fast logos. They can’t seem to understand (or just don’t care) that a logo may go through ten, fifty, 100+ different versions as it is being created and refined and think they should only pay for the creation of the final version of the logo. That’s fine, they can take their chances with the cheap services — and they may even get good results sometimes. The process by which a client selects a designer to collaborate with on creating a BRAND remains far more interesting and compelling to me.

  • Tekno_boy

    Excuse me but pull your head out from the sand.

    Your article while well written account for only a specific demographic. There are plenty of undercapitalised businesses to whom a stock logo would be great in place of their only other option, nothing at all.

    There are plenty of great sites on the internet offering quality design at a reasonable price.

    And you completely missed the point that there are plenty of slick internet companies that offer better design than the many idiotic people out there who buy a PC, pirate a copy of Coreldraw and star a design business. I’ve seen many people pay good money for a crap logo from a complete moron, just because they themselves have no clue.

  • Ronaldo Nascimento

    Who cares, logos are overrated. They are all orbital swirls with junk and stuff. Just look at the crap at the top of this web page. I would rather see well laid out text than 100’s of images that are 5×5 pixels just to make a corner of a table rounded – oooooh.
    Art is overrated.

  • Steven

    Nice article, is it possible for me to use it in my website, please note I am asking for permission…if you say no…then that is that.

    Please contact me at my email address.

  • Walter

    Although Jacob is a logo designer, his article presents the subject of hiring a professional for doing a professional design. It doesn’t say to hire him, it just says to hire a professional for a professional logo.

    Of course, you can use any other means that you wish to create a logo, the same you can do any task that you want yourself, like painting a house, fixing an electrical problem, gardening, etc.

    Yet, we have to give merit to good professionals, they do know what they’re doing and deserve respect for their years of experience on any given profession.

    This discussion goes further than simply saying anyone can do a logo. Of course, and anyone can play music, but there is a big difference between a musician and an amateur.

    Although, there will be many times when an amateur’s job will be as good as a professional one, knowing how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, doesn’t make anyone a graphic or logo designer. There’s a big difference there.

  • Logo Design Guru

    Thanks for this, i completely agree. People don’t realize how important logo design is and how it has the capability to make or break a company’s image. There are so many cheap logo makers or free options out there and they are just terrible. For any serious company, there needs to be serious and well done artwork. Every company should have custom art because I can’t imagine anything worse then having your logo the same as someone else’s out there. Thanks for your ideas.

  • c wylie

    thank you for this. i’m sick of the too good to be true dealers undercutting, ruining, and cheapening the field.

  • Robert Hathaway

    Great article! We tried to make our own logo – big mistake!
    Let me add 3 things:

    1) Work with an individual, not a company.
    You want someone who listens to your goals, your ideas. Someone who works with you.
    2) Ask to see examples of their work.
    3) Be sure your price includes all the source material so you can resize,
    and reuse in many formats.

    After wasting time (and living with a crappy logo for 6 months) we found an inexpensive professional who made a great logo for only a few hundred bucks, and our business improved almost immediately. His portfolio is here.

  • Will

    Nice presentation.

    One challenge is that logo designs are iterative. If you outsource each iteration of a design to a different designer, you lose the context of a previous iteration. So 99designs is compelling because you get lots of submissions.

    For His Catalog (, we looked at 99designs carefully, but decided to pass in favor of creating a simple logo in-house. I liked the optionality of 99designs because of the expected volume of submissions. Unless you know a designer personally, it’s hard to be confident up front whether one person will be able to come up with the best logo. But 99designs feels like it should have a lemons problem – the designers are there for a fast buck.

    Elance and oDesk seem to work well for outsourcing development, why can’t a similar model work for logo design?

  • Jas

    You might wanna keep in mind that not everyone can go the professional route, so going to a company that does spec work or allows contests is a good alternative. It may not be right in your eyes but that doesn’t mean others can’t still can’t get good work by ‘underground designers’ who are knowingly doing spec work.

    Get off your high horse.

  • Andrew

    If it costs a lot of money to change all your collateral material, display ads, etc, then pay a designer a bunch of money to make your logo, If you are going to put it on all the city buses then hire a professional.

    If you are sticking it on your email and maybe a business card, then it is not the end of the world if you change your logo. Good logo design is an art form, but some times you do not need a great logo.

    Also, I second the comparison with Google. It has done fine with a simple logo.

    Also, too many graphic artists are babies about their work. I hate when they tell my clients they won’t do something or try and act all high and mighty. You are doing work for someone else, if you do not like it, don’t put it in your portfolio.


    • Lou

      “You are doing work for someone else, if you do not like it, don’t put it in your portfolio.”

      Good point. As a web developer, I have some clients who insist on design elements that are just not the best choices. I have one client who designed her own logo using a rainbow gradient. It is horrible. But, she is the paying client and what she says goes. Needless to say, that website is not on my published portfolio.

  • Tyler Quinn

    As the founder of I’m going to throw my opinion into the ring.

    In regards to contests you say that “the quality is usually far from anything you would want to represent your business”.

    I get a bit of a chuckle out of this. If the quality was really so bad, the AIGA/NO-SPEC crowd wouldn’t have the slightest care about the contest sites. In reality the HIGH QUALITY of certain design contests is precisely what causes certain designers to become inflamed. Some designers will become infuriated the first time they visit a contest site and see work superior to their own being submitted to a contest with many competitors, especially if the prize is less than what they charge. This is a game changer and many know it. Those who are in denial run sites like No-Spec and expect to hold back the flood gates. They can’t, and they are running out of energy: the No-Spec blog hasn’t had anything to say since August 2008.

    Properly done contests are a threat to the existing design establishment and their livelihoods. But business is about continual change, and here it is. Graphic design is business before art, otherwise who would complain about designers doing what they love in a contest?

    You also said: “Designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.”

    Who determines what a designer should and should not do? I would like to think that individuals can make an informed decision on whether contests are worth it or not.

    One of the common arguments against contests is someone will rattle off a list of well regarded professions and say: “These professions don’t do work on spec, so why should a graphic designer do so?” Many industries contain or are based on spec work. Many Lawyers work exclusively on spec: it’s called “No Win. No Pay”. Realtors, sales professionals, huge ad agencies, etc. do so as well.

    One thing I don’t want on our site is designers wasting their time. And that is why I have implemented a designer ranking system. What happens over time is the wheat gets separated from the chaff and the better designers ascend to the top which aids in winning more, while the others improve or find a better way to spend their time.

    Almost every LogoTournament customer is thrilled with the service. One of the things I hear all the time is: “I met with a local designer, and after three weeks s/he came up 3 options and I didn’t like any of them.” Or “I met with a company and they wanted wayyy too much money”. With our service a client can fill out a brief, receive and rank 50-200+ concepts, and then download their winning files in under a week. With a local designer they would be lucky if they could get an initial meeting in that time frame. Put yourself in the shoes of a busy small business owner, which one would you pick?

    • Joshua Geiger

      You say…

      “If the quality was really so bad, the AIGA/NO-SPEC crowd wouldn’t have the slightest care about the contest sites.”


      These organizations along with other professional designers care so much, not because of the extra competition or the so called “democratization” of the design industry. It’s because we, as professionals understand the value of good design and what it can do for a company. Likewise, we also know what poor design can do to a company.

      If more and more of these business’ continue to use sites like yours, and the sub-par work that spills out of them become the “standard”… you will have successfully killed design as a whole while filling your pockets with capital generated from countless hours of unpaid work ripped from the souls of some poor, low self-esteemed budding designers. It’s profiteering off of ignorance of the client and “designer”…

      As far as I’m concerned, you’re no better than the guy selling smack by the school yard.

      I have looked at this a lot… from all perspectives… and have only seen one good thing to come from sites like yours… unsatisfied clients who are ready to hire a “pro”…. Me. :D Thanks.

  • The Peach

    Great article!

    That’s a pity who really needs a logo will not read this article. At least some of them will, or at least I hope so!

  • Artistic Design Union

    Yes. Do not use those guys on web forums who are hustling for your buck. Go with APPROVED DESIGNERS. Buy union proud. If those guys on the forum were any good they’d be a member of the union and charging more. If you need a $30 logo, come back when your business is big enough to pay our fees.

  • tom

    riiiiiiight…. so nobody but G.A.’s have a scene of balance, design, ingenuity or artistic vision.

  • Roy Nottage

    My main concern for this article is that the title is very misleading.

    It isn’t about “How NOT To Design A Logo”, it felt more like “Do NOT Design A Logo”.

  • iJoy Design

    Great design is not always expensive, nor does it have to take a long time. The Nike “swoosh” logo was designed by Caroline Davidson, a college student, in the early ’70s. She was paid a whopping $35 for her quick work.

    Sure, Nike’s logo is a wild exception. But let’s not generalize and say just because it’s inexpensive, it’s bad design.

    Truly great, award-wining design can be accomplished on a budget. The advice “don’t do it” is not nearly as useful as something perhaps more obvious: “just know what you’re buying.” A do-it-yourself logo might be rigtht for some.

    • Jonathan Patterson

      I wouldn’t say the Nike logo is great or not great. It’s simply well known.

      • rob

        …which is all it’s supposed to do.

  • The Logo Factory

    Whether or not a logo is good, effective, wonderful (etc) has nothing to do with the price that was paid for it. It has to do with, realistically speaking, how much time and effort people (in this case designers) are going to put into the development of same. Or the skill level and experience of designer that’s attracted by the price being paid. Shouldn’t come as a big shock that the less money involved, the less time and effort. And the skill/experience of the designer. It’s a simple matter of economics and human nature.

    When design is pared down to contests, there’s only a *chance* of getting paid, so many people entering take short-cuts through stock photos and art or worse, pinching designs from elsewhere (or even stealing concepts from fellow entrants). Is it possible to get a decent logo via a logo contest? Yes. Is there a chance that some of the designs will be ‘influenced’ by others – absolutely. In fact, that liability waiver is something that’s part of every contest site’s terms of service. Is there a chance that an established designer will pass off a ripped design in a one-on-one or studio situation? Yes, but its very, very slight. People get fired for such transgressions and reputations are ruined. On contest sites it’s simply a matter of registering a new screen name. And as they’re not getting paid in the first place. many view copying others as a ‘nothing to lose’ proposition.

    There’s also the lack of interaction between client and designer, despite some of these contest sites marketing themselves as ‘crowdsourcing’ platforms (where the community works together on a common goal as opposed to against each other). In fact, most logo contests expect the client to ‘direct the show’ rather than working *with* the designer. That’s not value *of* logo contests. That’s value that the client *brings* to the contest. It’s call art directing. Can that still work? Yes. Is it a great solution for either the designer or the client? No.

    I noticed upthread that someone opined that good designers are “a dime a dozen”. I wish that were true. Hiring a good designer is often extremely challenging – just because someone has a working knowledge of illustrator does not make them a designer. No more than knowing how a Dremel works makes one a dentist (though apparently someone upstairs has tried). The rest of their quote goes something like this; “Designers these days are a dime a dozen, be happy you get the work”. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of many design contest ‘holders’. Ask yourself this – do you want to work with this cat on ANY design project, UNLESS he’s paying you a fortune? I’d rather shovel fries at Mikey Dees.

    In terms of criticizing a professional designer for defending his craft, his industry and his way of making a living, I find it odd that designers would take offense. Anytime anyone wants to make an argument for people in my trade making more money, hell, I’m all for it.

  • David Pirek

    What about the google logo, that was designed by Sergey in a few minutes using Gip… doing all this crazyness for a startup might be an overkill

  • specific impulse

    For anyone starting a small business the concept of dropping thousands of dollars on a logo for your letterhead or website is typically a complete waste of resources. It is akin to buying a super-sophisticated phone system or copy machine that is simply a want instead of a need. This of course assumes that you are not already wealthy and don’t mind squandering money on useless crap.

    Building a business without incurring enormous debt means paring expenses to the bone and maximizing the utility of your time. Your money and time are strictly finite resources and if you do not deploy them efficiently you will be history. We know- we’ve survived economic downturns, built our business slowly over 15 years and watched our competition slowly die due to excessive debt, absurd deployment of limited capital and just plain lack of attention to details. They all had beautiful web sites and logos that probably consumed tens of thousands of dollars that could have been far better spent. No one remembers those websites. Our customers remember what we did for them- not the typeface on our letters.

    We have no debt and pay our people top dollar- they are the core of your business. I strongly suggest that although graphically nice websites are aesthetically satisfying the final deals are pretty much made on price- and in this day and age you had better be the low cost supplier or you will be ignored. There are only a few folks who can behave like Apple. We’ve found that a simple website with eyecatching photos are what draw attention- not elaborate logos or exotic typefaces. Those are noticed by average people about as often as the hinges of doors. Most text is simply ignored. What is most important is that there is a real live person to answer the phone that knows what the hell they are talking about. A team that responds promptly to inquiries with a detailed proposal that shows you’ve done this before and provides the product, supporting materials and followup to make the sale a good experience. That is so rare these days you will look like a shining star.

    For anyone trying this new business thing just be aware that you will work like a slave for years at sub-minimum wages. Really best if your partner has a “real job” in some wholly unrelated field. The folks who get external funding are few and far between and they are really just employees. Employees of men who are very serious about their money and getting a return. They get paid first if you really create a cash flow. They are quite unromantic about your particular endeavor and will pull the plug just as fast as they became engaged.

    Good luck and be a cheapskate on the fluff.

  • Not A. Dave

    What I find interesting is that in the examples of phallic logos, there is an obvious professional design (Head). Professionals aren’t perfect.

  • Livecrunch

    Great post , btw I badly need Logo my self since I just remodeled Livecrunch (no.1 tech crunched news blog)

  • Adam

    Dude, get over yourself. It’s not hard. Start with a primary shape, circle, square, triangle or the like. Combine it with a letter from the name. Add color, simplify, add a single accent, simplify again.
    Check you can print it in a mag, on a card, send it by fax and put it on a ball cap. If not, start again.
    Make sure that it’s not the same damn thing as some one else.
    If you are one of these gurus that charge $100k for corporate image branding etc. then congratulations. If you work for $1000 per job and want to make $100k but are getting your lunch eaten by $150 jobs then sorry for your luck.
    Starving artists, starving musicians and starving graphics designers are starving because most people can do what they do, they are not that special, but they like it so they suffer.

    • rob

      anybody?…really? rrrrright.

  • Jeremy

    Although I understand your point-of-view – I would have similar feelings in the realm of software development – your observations are completely unrealistic on the smaller ends of scale. Start-ups and personal projects absolutely require this level of cost to increase the solvency of the venture. I get that the end-product might not be of “professional” quality, but I submit that the best entrepreneurs understand how to balance cost and quality somewhere between, but neither cr@ppy nor professional to optimize cost while still maintaining the potential of the project.

  • Alf

    so i’m guessing you’re an out-of-work logo designer?

  • Boemba

    it’s just funny that all the logo’s that come to mind, every logo that caught my attention and remained in my memory are those made by the owner of the company, a co-worker who did it on the side, made by coincidence, or made it as cheap as possible

    i’m thinking about wal-mart, nike, coca cola, google, etc.

    i simply can’t think up those highly designed logo’s
    they just don’t come to mind

    can anyone give examples?

  • Techness Web Design

    Thank you for this write up. There are some great points in here that any design business can use to explain to their clients the significance of have a logo professionally designed compared to going the less expensive route. It’s all about branding the right way!

  • Gerardo

    i disagree about the contest part

  • sdiegoguy

    I stumbled onto this blog and I’m not in the design field. Rather, I work in a company that would hire a designer. I have to wholeheartedly agree with Keith in comment #77. There is value to having a professional custom product – but from a business standpoint, it’s always going to come down to a judgment call and balance of dollars and “sense”. If the company that I work for wanted to redesign their corporate logo – they need to pony up some cash for professional work. Likely, they’re probably going to hire a design company that specializes in the industry – and likely have a few contacts sitting in a file somewhere. At the same time – for my personal small online business, I’m going to spend little money (if any) on a logo. I wasn’t even aware of “logo competitions” – thanks! Now I know where to go to get cheap logos!

    It appears your industry is being cheapened by “designers” that are undercutting you. Well guess what, this happens in every industry – especially ones that are oversaturated with suppliers. Design definitely appears to be oversaturated. The byproduct: when the market is oversaturated – guess what? I get to name my price! Instead of whining about the situation – why don’t you try doing what every other successful business does – learn how to survive and flourish in a competitive marketplace. It’s not going to get any better – anyone born after 1980 knows their way around a computer. You’re in an extremely competitive market – thats your choice. Quit whining. Try finding a niche market where quality design work is valued and specialize.

    • rob


    • Lou

      “Well guess what, this happens in every industry – especially ones that are oversaturated with suppliers.”

      How true this is. I am now a web developer with over 20 years of software experience. Coding is now almost non-existent. Potential clients are lured into the cost savings of offshore programmers, only to be disappointed with communication and scheduling issues. The development of templated sites and content management systems has allowed anyone to develop a website. So what to do? Well, roll up your sleeves and become an expert in these technologies and offer your services to those who cannot do the work themselves.

  • ScottBlogs

    I hate designing logos, primarily because I suck at it. Great article – I will know what not to do, although, I am cheap, so I will probably always end up designing my own logos.

  • Jason

    Another take on the discussion at WHOREDcanvas….

    and also an interesting perspective here:

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  • mrinal

    Thanks a lot! I knew of only 2 design contest sites. Now I know 10 where I can post my project.

  • Ricky

    This is nothing more than protectionist drivel seemingly designed to scare people away from amateur/non-professional designers.

    I’m a particularly big fan of the irony of “$199 logo design” ads from google ad words.

  • Cosmonaut

    Hilarious! How could that beauty salon logo designer not see what they’d done?

  • Gary Simon

    I agree with most points of the article, but there’s a market for every budget, that’s the bottom line. At, I’ve literally designed over 500-600 logos within the past 15 months since I started taking orders through the site.. That number sounds daunting to anyone, but it’s really not so much work. I offer 1 primary concept and work with revisions from that point. The overwhelming majority of clients I take care of, end up happy/satisfied. I’ve stroke a balance that I enjoy, and my clients enjoy.

    Also, I’ll be recording a nice video soon to post up on the blog that has to do with logo design contests – to say the least, it should be interesting ;)

  • Brian

    The article states,

    “I highly recommend against this and suggest you leave the design to a professional, much as you would leave your dental work to a dentist.”

    Well, of course you’d recommend that. It’s good for your pocketbook. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. A bad logo never gave anyone a lethal infection and a logo designer never killed anyone with improper anesthesia. And I’ll bet a logo designer doesn’t have to take six+ years of math/science intensive classes, take (and pay for) mandatory continuing education, pass state bar exams, carry malpractice insurance or any of the other things one does when one is a ‘professional’.

  • arslion


  • Nathan

    142 comments?! Wow, you sure are a popular guy Walter.

    Well I really enjoyed this article. Logo contests are pure evil. I’m glad that topped the list.

    Thanks for a great post.

    • Walter

      Hi Nathan,

      Nice of you to drop by…. Story got dugg, so lots of comments today :)

      • Nathan

        I drop by every day thanks to the convenient RSS feed ;)

        Congrats on the digg!

  • Brendan

    Google’s logo is one of the most recognisable on the planet, it was made by one of the Google’s owners in gimp and he was not a designer.

    • Confetti

      Yeah, but it’s not a logo I like to look at (except when they do holiday logos).

  • Big W. Noodle

    If you’re so concerned about the jobs of fellow logo designers then why didn’t you go to a web design agency to have your website designed? Instead you chose to circumvent the entire designiary/industrial complex and just pick up whatever was free (WordPress).

    Certainly you are taking food out of the mouths of the babies of poor web designers and HTML coders and bringing down the entire industry by your wanton disregard for their talent and need to save a buck.

    • Static Brain

      It’s just like Big W. Noodle said in that you have chosen to “circumvent the entire designiary/industrial complex”.

      You moan and carry on:
      “literally no thought was put into your logo design” “… the quality is usually far from anything you would want” “designers should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.” “…free online logo makers on the web. Not only do these logos look unprofessional, hundreds of other people could have the same logo as you and what is the point of that?”

      Okay, if that’s the case, then shouldn’t you, by your own admission, have hired a coder to do your website? Literally no thought was put into your website coding, when you grabbed a free off the shelf system like WordPress. Isn’t “free coding” bad? Millions of others use WordPress. They have the same CMS as you and “what is the point of that?” Oh and those coders should get paid, shouldn’t they? Coders “should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment”.

      It makes me wonder why you even bother putting up a website at all, when you use free coding, if your website was meant to impress… ;-)

  • Mathew Ballard

    “Professional logo designers have a strict logo design process that can take weeks or in some cases months to complete a logo.”

    Ok, how many professional logo designers are out there? Sure there may be people who spends weeks or months on a logo but:

    A) Most people aren’t going to want to wait months for their logo to be designed.


    B) There are more people out there like me who not only design logos but also design many other things. I personally don’t spend even weeks on a logo as it would interfere with getting the rest of my projects done.

    • Fran


    • Iwan

      Well dear Matthew,

      I suggest we take a good look at your portfolio and see if you need to spend more time on your projects, or forget graphic design alltogether and go and make some lego.

  • Marksee

    I agree on quality for money etc…
    But what for someone like f.e. me?

    I’m a dj in a specific style of music, wich is very hard to promote in the country where I live. Graphic and visual, I have 0000 skills, so I have to “buy” one to get my product (wich is me in this case) seen in the market.

    The music I play has all the potential for kicking off, but people just don’t really know it, and promotors/clubs here are 99% only open for what andwho they know. So a good logo is a big part of my “way to success”

    I’ve proven my talents as a dj for quite some years now, but all by all, I get very few bookings/year.

    That means paying like hundreds of euro’s (or dollars, pounds) is quite a heavy investment, wich could pay off, but has no guarantee at all.

    So in this case, I’m almost obliged to go for the cheap solutions, wich suck in most cases…

    It would be good if there were cheap but quality solutions, but it’s such a heap of crap you have to go through that it disencourages people like me to do it, while it could be a great help for my career (or in somebody else’s case theirs or their product/service)

    So, if anyone would know of a good alternative ;)

  • Find Niches Online

    Excellent content here and a nice writing style too – keep up the great work!

  • kn0wl

    The issue of trust is perhaps the most important. You could get a great looking logo, but how do you know someone hasn’t stolen one or copied elements just to meet the deadline?

    Hiring a professional designer should mean they’re not passing another person’s work off as their own. But I think there’s the potential in design community sites for members to draw attention to unoriginal work. Over time, a contributer to such a site can build a reputation like any other professional designer. Whether its good for the design industry is another matter, there’s no doubt it’s reducing prices, and also quality because work is going to be rushed.

  • Design This

    I get the impression you don’t think a client has any idea what they would like to see in their logo. Big mistake I would say. You need to give the guy with the cash a little credit (pun intended)

  • jYO

    So let me get this straight, you’re against low cost “cookie cutter” logo design, yet you pimp low cost, “cookie cutter” website templates with the advertising on your site?

    How’s that any different? Shouldn’t it upset “real” designers that they’re losing money to these types of sites?

    Let’s get real. Different world, different times. You have to adapt to the needs of the market. Innovate and provide value and market yourself to the right audience.

  • Andrew

    I have been there, and done all of those things and have been impressed by some, but definately the majority of the time I am unhappy with the results, even though I thought I was happy.

    The biggest problem was that people didn’t give me a chance to try the logo, and possibly have tweaks made to it if I wasn’t 100% happy with it.

  • IMSA12

    For someone who professes knowledge of logo design, you should do yourself a favor and look into the history of logos and find out how they came into use.

    Long before they produced tennis racquets, athletic apparel, and shoes, HEAD manufactured what were considered by many to be the best skis in the world. HEAD skis were visually distinctive because they were almost completely free of graphics, branding, etc. with the exception of a single dot placed near the tip of each ski. To skiers, seeing the dot meant that you were looking at a fine pair of planks, and in general, this simple dot is certainly some of the leanest and most distinctive branding icons to come out of the 1950’s.

    I suppose the (archaic) HEAD logo you depicted might be considered phallic- if you’re a cat. HEAD produces and markets a range of sports products and (to me) their logos (past and present) convey history and action. Could you, as a designer, possibly come up with anything better for a 60-year-old company with this name and heritage?

    No, I’m not employed by HEAD, and I’ve only owned two pairs of skis and one pair of tennis shoes that they’ve made. I do, however, have the three Baker/Blick collections two feet from where I’m sitting. Very good…

    • Neurotoxine

      That’s the other side of the history, I was surprised to see the Head logo beside those phallic figures… So the other side of the coin is that the article is biased by someone who doesn’t know well what he is talking about.

      But has some truth anyway.

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  • Extreme Funny

    I try my logo design myself but it is preferable if anyone tell me the best way to design it…… ????

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  • duncan

    Logo ‘designers’ are on their way out of the game…and it’s their fault. You’re not going to be paid top dollar for noodling around with adobe products for much longer.

    Logos are important, but they’re way overpriced and without any accountability from the design firms. They only count the hits and never the misses. Everyone gets financially raped all the same.

    The people running the logo community sites that do the contests and support each other….they made you dorks irrelevant. The cheese moved. Change or be laughed at. It’s not a prediction – it’s what is happening today.

  • duncan

    ps: Some of the phallic logos in your example were made by professionals. The irony is that the logo contest communities would never let them fly because they’d get called out immediately due the larger number of eyeballs on the work.

  • justin

    I have designed a logo for my site of my own and i think i have to improve it by adding some flamming designs.after reading your posts its really helpfull to understand where am i currently and what i have to do for my best logo design.many thanks mate.

  • Gyorgy

    I don’t necessarily agree by not doing a logo by yourself. Except in case when you don’t know what you’re doing :)

    For example. My company’s logo ( was designed by me.
    The circles represents: dream, design, code

    I believe that without these 3 ingredients one cannot create a website, web application, etc.

    Dream is the biggest circle, design the second largest and code is the smallest, because coding is easy, but without a solid idea and design the whole project is doomed.

    The circles are slightly shifted inwards illustrating that the components (dream, design, code) complements each other.

    • David

      With all due respect design is not the same as art.
      Art can have several interpretations and it’s ok for people to make their own, but when you design a logo, you are looking for every person to see the same concept and unfortunately that’s not the case here.

      I think that’s the whole point of this article. It’s ok to look for an image that you think might represent your company, but it takes a professional to make it work at different levels.

      A professional designer would inmediately tell you that mixing shapes like the text over your logo makes it difficult for the user to read it. He/she would also tell you that there are specific colors associated with technology and the risks of using thin shapes in terms of resolution if you ever need to print things using that logo.

      Also talking about colors, he/she would advice to use a limited number of them related with your company, that people could inmediately associate with it. We don’t see McDonalds or Coca Cola mixing colors on their logos right? The reason for that is a strict control of their brand that assures a succesful impact on their clients.

      I’m not a designer but i work with them and i learned to identify those kind of things. And i know that there are thousands i’m missing. That’s why their opinion is important and that’s why they deserve to be paid. Because they have studied to gain that knowledge and they know how to do this kind of things.

      For those that put Google as an example of “make it yourself” i have bad news. Google is a search engine. What people looks for when they get to google is search results. That’s why you only have the little box to enter your key words and just the button, and that’s probably the reason why they are so successful. It’s a clear example of something that can’t go wrong even with a bad logo.

      Sometimes “it’s better to be lucky than good” right?. In this case i would say the product is so good that it was going to be successful even using a times new roman font for it because… the thing just works.

      • Neurotoxine

        Good point, indeed.

        At the end, what designers do when working for a logo project with budget, is designing the brand or applying it to a Logo (then cards, sheets, etc.)

        When a designer work for a logo contest or for a logo “small budget” project, he is just applying basic design laws, basic design colors, basic concepts taken from the (commonly) owner of the company and using some “art” to put the “nice” factor to it.

        When you’re a designer, the logo may turn to be crap looking if the concepts and the branding and business market so commands it. BUT to see that you need to study the market, the company, the people that turns out to be the target for the brand.

        Sometimes the studies and the marketing mislead the target (much common than you think) and the design ends with a great work that is directed to the wrong people and so the brand effort is futile. To avoid that, you use a designer, if you are not sure where your business go or where your clients are, then you could even do the logo yourself, no ones going to be hurt.

  • Taryn

    A great article making some really good points and full of useful tips. Regarding the free logo making software, you may be right that online logo makers tend to be a bit generic but some of the logo making application software you can buy is useful, not in itself but if you break open the application packages you can find libraries of swooshes and slashes etc that are at worst inspirational and at best useable !

  • Skofo

    Says the guy who owns a site with the most cluttered and unmemorable logo I’ve ever seen.

    You can try making your own logo just fine. This guy is nuts for comparing a dentist to an artist. People can be awesome designers and artists without any professional training. Likewise, some people who have a Master’s in art and charge thousands of dollars for their art make shit because they don’t have any design sense. The Reddit alien could have been drawn by a five-year-old, yet it works awesome.

    My advice is to make something memorable and unique.

  • Ted LePat

    Let’s not overlook the pain in the ass factor of tracking of posting in the wrong area of Digital Point and getting banned. This recently happened while trying to hire a content person on D.P. while in another tab commenting on a political discussion. We were banned because of the comment before finishing the RFQ on content in the other tab. The childish behavior can be a bit trying at times.

  • Skyler

    I disagree 100% with #1 (Logo Design Contests). I’m sorry if designers are now forced to actually compete to be paid, but survival of the fittest. Sites like 99Designs are the pinnacle of an open and free economy.

    • Neurotoxine

      Skofo: The logo from webdesigner depot is clear and readable, the background is sometimes cluttered as you said, but the logo is pretty clear. Maybe not a miracle but is OK, you’re seeing UFOs where there’s none.

      Skyler: Survival of the Fittest is an evolutionary and biological theory well demonstrated, but works for low level animals, mainly for the way they structure their societies, based on hierarchy, alpha class, bigger, stronger, faster, etc.

      For your knowledge, we’re human beings, a high level animals, we have complex brains and a cortex that allows us to do some interference in our “older brains” line of thought, so in our society we CARE for others of our species, we tend to our youngest and elders and we support each other because we’re not in the line of survival of the fittest. If this were a jungle, of course, we’ll be back to our animal skills to survive, but as we are society, we have human skills. If your theory were right, then there would be no hospitals, schools, nor presidents, no society, no social assistance, etc.

      Every fool that invokes the survival of the fittest theory should remember that EVERY OTHER ANIMAL would kick our asses twice before we even notice, so we’re not the fittest… our society and community behavior was the key to our standing point today. So stop please talking nonsense.

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  • thunderror

    first of all you need to improve readability on your blog. Red on black is sore on the eyes. Perhaps you could rename it to: How not to present a blog post?

    Lame points. No justifications whatsoever. Its just a no-logic list.

    • Walter

      Blog has black text on a white background, however, visitors using the browser Chrome are seeing a red background instead. We’re looking for a fix to this problem, in the meantime, we suggest you use a different browser.


  • Matías

    Nice :)

  • v-render

    as designer i feel that those design contests are encouraging to jump start for junior learning students and creative designers. though you don’t get much money outta it but get so much concepts to work on. If you are doing it side by side. not as full time !

    as business owner, i will not recommend to anybody those contests to hold and get logo design. :)
    other points from your article are really perfect!

  • Nik

    I’m no fan of Design contests and I don’t like what it’s doing to our profession. But to say that those who take part in them aren’t creating amazing and professional results is biased. I will never take part in one myself, but I know better than to undermine their collective ability.

  • Keith

    Definitely very true, with all the red “X” across all the images. If I need a logo for myself, better do it myself; and of course validate with friends who are experienced in design and graphics. That will help!

  • Geoserv


    Another fantastic article, with tips I never really though about.

  • Alvaro


    Google’s logo is famous just because everybody watch it every-single-day, isn’t a good logo anyway, but google’s search engine is really good, everybody uses google because the engine, no ’cause the logo. Imagine google’s same colors and typo for Microsoft or apple?, would you buy windows with that logo?
    – Would you drink a pepsi in a new can with the new “smily” logo?
    – Can you imagine “AA” of american airlines with Times new roman – green and yellow?
    – “I love New York” without that heart?
    – Mc Donalds’ “M” with serif?

    C’mon guys, logo designing is a lot more than just draw a circle and put some lines on it, it’s about psycology, graphic design and marketing… i think it worth it to hire a guy or a group of people with knowledge about that subject

    I agree with people who thinks that logo design must be made for a professional if you want to sell a product or a service and keep that image in your costumer’s brain.

  • kostoas

    I agree with you

    but i really don’t care

    i have a design company in greece (where things are worst even worst from Africa… for designers)

    but i still don’t care

    because i tired i read in comments that if you have a photoshop you are a designer and you don’t need to go to a university…

    things like these make me tired everyone believe that if you have a computer and some imagination you can design

    and we spend 4 years + 1 for master just for fun… and we didn’t learn anything , we are some guys who are doing their hobby… and take money for nothing

    P.S. sorry for my bad english

  • MsLuscious

    i totally agree, but then my question is how do u go about finding a reputable logo designer?

  • alexallied

    It can come from anywhere, you could be one yourself if you know how to lift a pencil and start sketching.

    FYI: A Nike logo costs only $35 back in the 70s.

  • Florian

    Very Nice article!
    Although Í’m not a logo-designer, I do know what it’s like to see bad designed logo’s.
    Recently I worked for my training company as a webdesigner /developer and clients would send me in the most awful logo’s to put on their websites.

    The similarity between a bad designed website and a bad designed logo, is that both are very important for the appearrance of a company..

    The logo-design contests for example, will only discourage the “designers” to try harder and give the logo that extra need, time, development and care that it deserves.

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  • Ian Wright

    All very well and nice… but how do you go about finding a decent designer?

    I have run and maintained my own website for 5 years, it makes ok money but it has always been done by myself and i am no coder or graphic designer. I have no idea where to even start let alone what i am looking for in a designer to entrust an important part of my business in.

    It’s not rocket science to figure out logo design and everything that flows with it is best left for professionals, but how do you find them, and more to the point how do you figure out the good from the bad with no knowledge of the actual field?

    Don’t do this… don’t do that… but try what? Look out for what?

  • Mike Kurtz

    I launched a contest here and I liked the results. Here is why I used the service:

    1). I contacted a local design company, went to their office and sat with them and gave them my “ideas”. They charged by the hour, but they didnt pay me for my time to get to their office and sit with them while being away from my company. 3 days later they had 3 renditions of my new logo. I didnt like any of them at all. They started again from scratch. 2 weeks later, nothing usable. I was charged almost $500 for their time. Just a side note: I went to them because the work I saw of theirs was GREAT, but they just couldnt hit it on the spot for me.

    2). I went Logoworks and they supplied a few alright logos, but I needed alot of changes to one of them. They made the changes, charged me and then it just still was not right. I spoke to a friend of mine and he recommended I walked away from logoworks and all the money I spent there.

    I posted my needs on the same day. I got riddled with logos, some good and some worst than my previous. Over all I had about 4 real nice ones to choose from in the end. I could make as many changes as I wanted and not have to pay for those changes – my price was locked in. I got the logo I wanted and my staff and I are happy.

    Now, I own a business in a completely different industry. But nevertheless, after reading these articles I do have an opinion on design contest. I think they are a good thing for business owners. I can see how U.S. graphic companies might think they hurt their business, but isnt that what this country is founded on – friendly competition. Could you imagine the U.S. with non-compete laws? I wouldnt want to be a part of that system.

    On the flip-side. I am sure that these contest are helping alot of people in countries that have a low pay scale. In some places a $100 is almost a months pay. To them, they are not doing it cheap, its just that they are on a different economic scale than we are.

    At the end of the day as a business owner, if I can spend $500 on a logo or $100 on the same service – why spend the $500? I need to stay in business so I can keep my employees around. I dont have money to waste, do you?

  • David

    I found the article very useful for people to get things right.
    What i mean is that i make a living by doing some website layouts and there are people that call them “design”, but i know the truth and the truth is that having some photoshop skills doesn’t make me a designer.

    I find that disrespectful and even when my work depends on me doing that kind of things sometimes, i don’t try to fool myself by saying “well… a designer job is overrated anyway”. That is just mediocre.

    There are good designers and there are bad designers just like there are good doctors and bad doctors.

    I think it’s ok if you want to use your “software and artistic skills” to make some money, as long as your client is aware that you are not a professional and you are offering other kind of service. The client has the right to choose, but if you try to appear as a designer when you are not, that’s a fraud no matter how you put it.

    My respect for designers that have invested time, money and effort on their education. They deserve it as any other professional.

  • mick

    There’s no reason to get mad about the inexpensive logo sites, design is a business. All businesses have a bottom line when it’s all said and done, and that is to make money. You can either sit there and cry and whine or you can improve on your skill set. You don’t hear about the expensive restaurants complaining about Red Lobster or OutBack Steakhouse, you know why because what they offer is on a different level (or appears to be on a different level). Some people can afford to pay for that fancy french cuisine and others are more than happy with Red Lobster and some will even be satisfied with with a McDonalds filet of fish. If you don’t want to serve those potential customers because you feel your above them, then tell them they can’t afford you. I have a feeling it’s not a fortune 500 executive that’s asking for your services, because if it where you wouldn’t have even written this. Also you may want to keep in mind that most of those fortune 500 start off with inexpensive logos at first. So you never know who you could be blowing off.

    As far as some of you people telling other designers what to do and what to accept or take chances on. People have rent, people have families, and you can’t eat ethics. I have two excellent design friends who have been laid off here in Michigan, and you bet your ass ethics went out the door when the design firms they worked at hired some new cheaper designers. If they make a logo for someone for $300 more power to them, logos are an important step to branding but it’s a step.

  • Travis McCrea

    Would you get a crowd sourced haircut? Then why get a crowd sourced logo?

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  • harmonsmith

    I agree with you. Nice article. I think it was the american steel company or IBM either way one of those companies was reported to have paid £3,000,000 for their logo which gives an indication of its value.That’s why I designed my logo from a good logo design company logoguru and I am pretty satisfied with the results

  • Loony

    To each his own! But I disagree. Jacob, I love your site and your work and understand your point 100%. But there are a few issues there.

    1-Not everyone should be designing logos. But who should? How does one know if they are good enough? I think the article is kind of saying ‘if you are not the number one student in your design classroom, then you shouldn’t work!’ Which is saying that 1/10th of the population on earth shouldn’t work.

    2-Applying cheaper prices doesn’t kill the industry, as stated above. It makes it more entertaining, more alive. It’s called competition!! I don’t want to live in a monopole of expensive products and services ; as a client – and aren’t we all – I want the choice. I’m sure everyone of you goes to low cost supermarkets. Well, small stores say they kill the industry. Do they really? No. So unless you’ve never bought cheap food, drinks and other products then I think it is slightly hypocrite.

    3-About investing time and ressources with no guarantee of payment. Well, of course I agree 100%. But at the same time, if I went to a huge supermarket with empty shelves, and just a tag for prices and a little description for the products, I would not buy anything. Would you? I need to see the product, touch it. If I hire a client hires a professional logo designer, he still has no guarantee that your logo will be better than the competition.

    4- Finally, let’s not forget the client!! He is the one who knows what he wants. And not every company is called Coca Cola, Nike or McDonalds. Most companies are small and don’t even know if they’ll still exist in 2 years. Big companies changed their logos once they became bigger.

    My point is that I understand and agree with the idea of this article but that we need competition, different prices and qualities. This world is not just for the best of the best of the people. Everyone should have a chance. Some top A list actors are rubbish actors but they had a chance to make it and took the chance.
    In Europe you can pay £350 to fly from London to Barcelona, or you can pay £35 with low cost airline Easyjet. Big airlines complained and said that Easyjet was going to kill the industry. They didn’t. Yes they killed some of their competitors. But that’s business.

    Jacob, well done for your site. I’ve just discovered it. I promise I’ll write comments when I agree too :)

    • Jacob Cass

      Thanks for your opinions Loony, but like the article does claim, what I state is merely my own opinions but I am glad I brought it up as I can see that people are on both sides of the fence. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of each method.

    • Neurotoxine

      Kwek… Porter, read a book of Porter. Competition doesn’t kill the market, what kills the market is low price at all costs to cut competitors off. Low price politics is a spiral downward to turn a respectable job into a crappy one.

  • blah

    what a bad article…even those with a little experience with illustrator and photoshop can make good, professional looking logos with the help of some of the hundreds of web tutorials out there. you sound like you’re full of yourself.

  • Heidi

    These points are great for large companies or anyone with an idea they want to take online or go international. They need to have something incredibly solid to build upon, which is not just a logo but a brand and identity.

    However, how many times have you seen a plumber’s van on the street and thought, ‘What an awful logo.” It’s folks like that who can benefit from a one-time service of getting a logo, or using a design contest to get something better than a piece of clipart. Not everyone is FedEx. I enjoy creating great quality logos for the “little” guys at a price they can afford.

    I was fortunate to have an Advertising professor who used real-world examples for assignments — recent jobs needed by real companies. I would advise anyone who has not had this kind of training to look at logo contests as a classroom, where you get paid if you pass the assignment.

  • Seraph

    I used to hit up DigitalPoint when work was scarce…and then I quit it altogether, and raised my prices. I proved to people I was worth the expense, and my business has been booming ever since. :)

    Ironically…one of the people in that DP screenshot there…proteindude? He eliminated one of my entries from a previous contest of his as soon as he found out I was a girl. :P He was one of the main motivations why I quit DP and forged for myself.

  • Brad

    This really is a terrible, self serving article. When you create a company and a logo, 99% of the people who see your logo will be average everyday people (depending on target audience). The average person sees a logo and thinks, “Hmm, that looks kind of cool.” Designers are the only people who look and say, “What a piece of poorly designed trash. They used Arial when they clearly should have used Tahoma. Amateurs.” I lost major faith in logo design companies when my school spent months consulting to create a new logo and image, probably spent several tens of thousands of dollars, and came up with utter garbage that was immediately rejected by the entire campus community. I wish I had a pic but I can’t even find any.

  • Arjen

    Great article, I really agree with the points you mentioned.

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  • http://NA Adz

    There seems to be a bug while using chrome to display the article.
    The white backdrop to the article doesn’t display correctly and instead the brown background is displayed making it very difficult to read with black on dark brown.

    • Walter

      Yes, it’s a documented bug and Google has fixed this in the upcoming upgrade of Chrome. We looked for workarounds for a long time, yet nothing was available to correct this issue, other than switching to a different browser there’s nothing else I can suggest at this point.


  • Elisabetta Bruno

    While I certainly don’t approve spec and I find contests to be harmful for the industry, there’s one thing in this article I really couldn’t agree with: “Professional logo designers have a strict logo design process that can take weeks or in some cases months to complete a logo.”

    A client reading that will be put off from going to a professional designer.

    If you want to avoid clients from going to the logo factories around, then you should design a logo according to their needs, those needs aren’t only about what they need to communicate, but they are also to do with their budget.

    My company has this philosphy, maybe it’s completely wrong, but they will say, “If the client decides to invest a lot of money on a logo, feel free to take whatever time you need to make it, if they pay very little for it, then spend your time accordingly.”

    You’ll keep clients that wat, spend only the necessary time you need to spend without wasting it, and when you get the client who does want something that values more, then you will be investing your time accordingly.

    It’s you who. in the end, decides how much time and energy you spend on a project. Make the client aware that a cheap logo won’t be necessarily the best solution, make them understand that investing more will actually give them a more satisfactory result. And then deliver that more satisfactory result. Then you have ground to stand on.

    Yes, logo design is often underrated. But months to design a logo? That’s overrated. Statements like that one hurt the design industry just as much as contests and logo factories. Because you compell your clients to go to them even more.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

    To others saying how the “elitists” who don’t want contests don’t want amateurs to learn. Many of those people you call “elitists” have spent hours making sites, writing articles, giving advice to people who are learning design on forums and so on. You are out of line.

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  • Davis

    Logos are often designed by business owners at the beginning of the business, however the idea of branding or marketing across different mediums is where a professional comes in. A proper branding includes not only the various forms of logos on things like letterhead and business cards, but also takes into consideration smaller factors such as how employees answer the phones. Think of your last experience at Starbucks. Everything from the exact color green to the how the drink is called out falls under the umbrella of the services provided by a good graphic design company.

    The question I ask to my clients: How much impact do you want to make on potential customers and would you like to be recognized as the leader in your field? If yes, then you need professional services.

    Donald Sparkman makes the distinction clear in his book Selling Graphic & Web Design when speaking about websites and using a do it yourself programs. “It will continue to get easier and easier for people to go out, buy something like FrontPage, and create a Web site. But keep this in mind: Microsoft Corporation does not use Microsoft FrontPage to build” His point being that it takes expertise and finese to create an effective campaign. Although a final solution can seem like a no-brainer, it often takes a thorough consultative process with experts to yield conclusive results.

  • Dennison Uy

    While I personally abhor spec work (like logo design contests), ethics issues aside there are actually decent / good submissions to be found there.

    I also disagree with “too good to be true” deals. There are crappy logo designers out there that charge an arm and a leg for a logo that doesn’t work. Also not many small to medium size enterprises have the budget for a real branding firm, so they need to make do with a $200 logo which may be cheap, but not necessarily “too good to be true”.

    • Elisabetta Bruno

      “There are crappy logo designers out there that charge an arm and a leg for a logo that doesn’t work.”

      There are also crappy designers out there who charge 2 dollars for a logo that doesn’t work.

      The point is that professional designers should be able to tailor the logo for you. They should be able to work with you to achieve what you want. An already made logo doesn’t do that. An already made logo doesn’t have any marketing research behind it. That’s often why it’s cheaper.

      If a client is happy with just a “pretty picture” for logo there isn’t much that can be done. But it’s important that we at least attempt to make clients understand that a logo requires proper study, and it isn’t just a clipart. That study is time spent and solution finding and, since it is what we sell, it should be paid for its value.

  • Marko

    I totally agree…nice article.

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  • Dan


  • pfla

    Of course, a professional designer is going to say that.

    They want you to avoid all the other ‘cheaper’ alternatives.

    This article is a load of hot air. Stock images are a starting place, other websites are another, and as for design competitions; this is a great way to get input from many designers rather than just one.

    Totally disagree with this article

  • Gibi

    Would you get a crowd sourced haircut? Then why get a crowd sourced logo??

  • Gibi

    Great article, I really agree with the points you mentioned..

  • Ranie

    I agree and disagree!

    This is no different from webdeveloping/designing… There are people who pay $$$ for a good, well structured, well designed and usable website… It works but maybe not. Then there are people who make the website them self or get their uncle to design it… Most of the time It’s not that great BUT many time It does come out really good… And “works” for that person/copmany.

    The case you are making Is not about the end result. It’s about your result in this business. It’s all about the money, and maybe this is your only income and thats just fine. For me, I’ve been designing websites for many years for my hobby AND for work… But still i sometimes “give” my friends and family a webdesign, “try” to make a logo (no my thing). I give designes sometimes because I love doing what I do at the same time I work doing It part time… But who are you to say that that doesn’t work? Do you have any statistics on growth, income failing rate etc on campanies that buy “cheap” logos vs “expesive” logos?

    I agree that chances are that the company logo is much more likely to work If It’s “designed” professionally” for that company with some thoughts BUT thats not 100%…

    The more I think I about your post, the more I dissagree… A good post none the less… I will be comeing here once in a while…

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  • site internet martinique

    Vraiment juste!
    Je suis complêtement d’accord avec tes propos, les entrepriss devraient prendre conscience du probleme ….

  • angga

    but sometime, pursuing of deadline = instant way…;)

  • Logo Designer

    Thanks and nice artical.

    Somtimes its very difficult to design keeping in mind the compatibilty on Prints, mono-cromatic, web, agaist black background or white.


  • San Diego Web Designers

    I don’t know much about graphics.This article will help our designers.So let me give this to those people.Let them enjoy.


  • Supermance

    its kinda hard to make your own logo, outsource is the best way for it, imho ….

  • Sajid Iqbal

    Very useful article for newbie like me. I am in process of learning graphics designing, it will help me a lot. Thanks again

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  • Evan Skuthorpe Web Designer

    Love the design examples of bad logos. Funny stuff.

  • rich

    lol.. i agree

    I made a great website for this pharmacy and i always asked them about the logo.. well when they finally gave it to me it was some random image off the internet! thanks a lot… the site looked so bad with the logo, i ended up just making them one.

    but really ya great points!

  • Sklep Wędkarski

    Great article.

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  • Suri Teller

    I agree with some of the things you’ve written about, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON a logo should take weeks/months. It is just your justification of charging extra hours to your clients. Puh-lease. That applies to web design as well. I was on the client end and honestly, it is completely annoying, to discuss color schemes for a week. I can honestly say, as a designer myself, I dont think you have a nicer logo if the designer took 3 months to chew it over – or a couple of days from start to finish.

    and these comments are turning out to be a great resource to find logo contests. For the beginner freelancer with no set clientele, logo contests are great – if you’re good. I wouldn’t do one that the reward was $20, or $50, or $100. But for $500 I’d take a stab at it.

  • Krystian

    Important article. But in wrong place. Customers are guided by price and time. It is hard to meet their needs especially when we have to compete with “cheap” competition.
    Maybe designers should take another role beside the job – to educate their clients.

    Anyway, I hope this article is read by bussiness people too.

  • firewalker06

    If they want cheap logo, give the cheap ones. If they want high quality logo, let us sit down and talk it over. It’s as simple as that, what would went wrong?

  • MirazTutorials

    I used to do site point comps myself when i first started out i feel it let me gain a very in depth experience of clients but as well as being in a high pressure competative no win no fee environment. I do think every one should try a design competition atleast once just to see what it feels like but as for longer term i say no way. Great topic and good article

  • Miles Tinsley

    All very true. Logo design is something to be taken very seriously. Quite frankly, a company that employs any of the aforementioned techniques – doesn’t deserve to be in business!

  • Kristine

    I guess the logo creation techniques listed above are like comparing a Mercedes and a Stationwagon…

    They both will get you to where you want to go but one car will get you where you are going a hell of alot faster and looks much sheeker doing it. Can you tell which one?

  • Snerdey

    Wow, I’ve seen some really bad logos over the past several years. But, some you just can’t get to change to what would work best. People that are say Lawyers have extensive educations.. most anyway and then when they want a website either they have nothing in mind or stuck on a really bad choice.

    Leave it to the pro’s to create someone unique to your services.

    LOL.. that’s a interesting comment.. “doesn’t deserve to be in business” that is one of the worst business statements I’ve seen in a long time.

    We service across the board from the small young entrepreneur to the corporate creative minds. I don’t care if they only have $50 bucks to spend or $3,000 it’s all about customer service and the bottom line… sales. Over 1mil to be exact and thousands of which came from our automated or pre designed templates. Most of the sales come from custom request from repeat buyers of our low end stock ;)

    Funny.. your website is using a free software to create it. Thank goodness those services are there for those who want things for free in life or less than $50 bucks.

    Still think the same?


  • Jenn Dodd

    I think designers are quite underrated in all fields. I’m attending school for interior design and the disrespect and devalue of my services is astounding. I think education is the key here. We need to educate our clients on what we do and why it is more beneficial and worth our fees for them to work with us. Never work for free and never allow “feature creep” it sets the whole design industry back five steps.

  • Kaden

    Kinda interesting that the discussion has studiously avoided ‘The Pepsi Memo’

  • Mario

    I hope you al realize that design is nothing without advertising. Like the nike logo … would be just a stripe without the millios of dollars baking it up. Well … you really know that .. right? Stop being a hobby designer… you know who you are :)


    I love this post! Is a good regard for every designer! More interesting! like Kristyan “I hope this article is read by bussiness people too.” ;)

  • Daisy

    Very interesting article! I’ve been preaching the same thing for some years now and it still surprises me to see how many people fall for the cheapo alternatives. I hope the word gets around…eventually :)

  • Chris

    This post is funny. A designers, or anyones, services are as valuable as the market determines them to be. If a businesses profit margin were directly dependent on the quaillity of the logo design, then the designer who can provide such a design could charge a premium to do so; over the designers whos designs would cause the business to take in less profit.

    The problem is, with some exceptions, most logo designers do not provide a design that provides much, if any, value for the business beyond what is provided by design contests represented by 99designs, or to a lesser extent, DP.

    It works like this: the busineses who take in less profit due to lesser quality logos would soon be marginalized or run out of business by the more profitable businesses with better logos. Therefore, the designers who can truly provide logos that represent a better value for the business, in the way of more business and profit per dollar invested in the logo, will stay in business, no matter whether they be the more expensive boutique designers or some random jerk on DP. Basic economics.

    Business people cant be expected to provide welfare to whining logo designers who do not offer a competitive product. The few good logo designers who truly provide a better value will always have more work than they can handle. Hell, they should win the 99designs contests every time, which pay normal fees generally, if they truly do provide the better value.

    All the whining in the world, or price cutting in the world from the other perspective, thankfully doesnt make a damn of difference due to the wonderful forces of market economics. But it would take running a business to gain this perspective I guess.

    BTW, after many failed experiences with both premium and budget designers, I wound up having to learn a graphics program and design my own truly above average logo. Illustrator skills do not a good designer make…

  • Carlos

    # Where’s the theory. I thought this was going to be an article on what makes up a
    # good logo. ie: circles are evil, etc, etc…

    So did I, to me this seems more like bashing competition.

  • BJ

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. People who underinvest in their brand identity send an important message: I’M CHEAP! We see it all the time. Fledgeling companies come in to meet and immediately start talking price, we send them on their way. Its not about price is about your IDEA! If you underfund, you reap what you sow.

  • Jadiel

    Very nice this post, this information is very usefull, thanks

  • Matt

    IMO what you should do, is learn photoshop and make your own. That way you are satisfied with your logo.

  • overrated designer

    Well, times are changing. What was expensive is becoming cheaper and cheaper. Do you really think the logo design industry is the only field where this can be experienced? Well due to the fact that web design and development is already outsourced mainly to India and Pakistan design firms nowadays can develop websites for less than $250 with design+CMS back-end. Does this mean that I should lower my prices to $250? No. I am confident in my abilities and am certain I will still attract customers who want quality.

    Of course the problem is there are many overpriced logo designers or web designers who complain because the garbage they can do can be done by an Indian provider for $2/hour. Well no matter what economic turmoil will devastate our market, people will always be willing to pay more for quality logos and web design.
    If you are good, talented and have the creativity, you will always make money.

    I still think logo design will always be an art. You cannot learn logo design in expensive schools you need to be born a logo designer. Same goes to web design: creating stunning, unique designs from scratch cannot be learned from a tutorial. Sure you can understand the methodology and techniques, but if you suck, you will suck after 1000 hours of tutorials and/or higher education.

  • Matt

    Its all about the experience. I used to be really suck but after gaining access to heaps of awesome photoshop resources, the main ones : psdtuts, webdesignerdepot, and spoongraphics, my designs have become really awesome.

  • app

    I don’t agree with the idea that you can only get a good logo if you pay professional a lot of money.

    I also don’t agree with the idea that you can’t design your own great logo.

    I am not a professional but I designed a killer logo, only the artwork wasn’t very good. It consisted of a bad photo of one of my monitors, a screenshot of my browser, and a bit of bad hand drawing with a mouse. But it was memorable, had personality, and it was a fantastic concept.

    In the hands of a friend of mine who is a talented web comic artist that volunteered to do the work for free, redrawing the whole thing in his own wonderful style, the logo came to life.

    The design was mine, the artwork was his, together it was perfect and it cost me nothing. Now I have something beyond just a mere logo, I have a mascot with his own “fan club”.

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  • Craig Miller

    Simple and clever are the keys for a good logo design

    Craig Miller

    professional logos

  • Rich

    The industry certainly has changed,graphic design and logo design has become a commodity, I believe overall design will continue to suffer as the web has opened the world to less educated clients and less talented designers. Hopefully in the long run clients will come to value and pay a premium for more skilled designers.

  • Paul Cameron

    As a high school art teacher I get several art contest directives from various local,state,national corporations and organizations. Recently, I received a county regional logo contest directive from our regional education office to inform my art students about our public transit logo design search. Ironically, after the student design is selected ($100 prize) the winning logo design will be submitted the transit’s graphic designer. Now, my comment is this…either this county owned business has money to give away, or the contracted graphic designer has an issue with coming up with ideas.
    Anyway, it just caught me off guard when I read the directive.

  • MP

    Sounds like somebody doesn’t want to be put out of a job, to me…

  • Webdesigner

    As usual, a good article, but we designers allready know all these facts, it’s the customer who needs to know about it. Who gonna tell?

  • Josh

    Not a fan of this article at all, plenty of people will do just fine designing their own logo with the ubiquitous online resources.

  • Corporate Identity Design

    Truly said, that it varies from company to company, but in general, I think feedback is very much important, and not necessarily it should be from higher authorities, instead it can be from anyone in the company, i.e. at times a junior resource can give a great feedback too…..

  • Nigel

    What the author comes back to in most of his points, is that logo’s need a good deal of thought and understanding. I have yet to see a business owner, who’s signing the cheque at the end of the day, not do that.

    You do not need to be a “professional logo designer” to put a lot of thought into something that’s going to represent your business because *you* already do that.

    Who better to design a logo than you as a business owner. If you can afford to get somebody else to convert your ideas into a a visual artifact, great. If not, do not be scared by a poorly written, quite self promoting article into spending money that could have been better spent elsewhere (like building a good product or improving your customer support services).

    Quality is subjective. The author clearly believes that things like design contests and DIY sites and tutorials result in poorer quality. I’d like to remind the author that the judge of quality is the person commissioning the work and his or her business consumers.

    If the commissioner of the work likes it, the design has met its goal. The process to achieve it is then irrelevant. One may counter argue, that the market or clientele of the business using the logo, would be the target to satisfy.

    My thoughts to that argument are; no designer however great they believe they are, are in a better place to understand the business requirements than the owner of the business. If the business owners are satisfied, it probably because they believe that the logo represents their business in the way they desired. Its their prerogative given that they run the business. Not the designer.

  • Cheap Logo Design USA

    Good article, thanks for sharing and keep it up!

    But in few point or condition i am not agree with you. Quality logo design which attract the consumer and retain in the mind of customer is depend upon the designer experience and proper search work. Only expert and professional graphics designer can do this job successfully. I think owner of business should brief the about the scope to business and company in details to designer and should prepared more than 5 logos. Select which one is the best. Not depend on only single design and don’t try to save the cost. Because business logo is most important.

  • Sumon

    heyy i <3 .. can i print this and share it? i will obviously include a link to your site, and give you credit (and not take all the glory myself)

  • Tropicandrew

    I think what Walter said above is correct: “I think for designers this is a bad thing as a lot of talent and time gets wasted submitting and competing with hundreds of other designs.”

    Not only that, but it’s frustrating for a top level designer like myself (I admit, I did the contests) to waste our talent and skill only for a client with the CRAPPIEST taste to pick some piece of crap that looks like a second grader designed in Paint. This one in particular was a huge burn:

    The ass who was holding it gave me “great” feedback and led me to believe that I was going to be the winner, only for him to turn around and pick utter crap (you can see the winner there, too). There have been a multitude of contests I’ve entered where this has been the case. It wore on to the point where I had a breakdown after an accident (which left me unable to design for a long time) and just quit the contests, which were draining my creativity and wasting my time. And not only that, but there is one particular “designer” (Carlson) in these contests who likes to rip off other designers’ concepts/composition. You put up your design and within a couple of hours, he’ll rip it off (because he is incapable of coming up with an original composition and his font work sucks MAJOR balls). Wonderful. And when he was called on it, he whined that he wasn’t ripping anyone off, that all his crap is original, blah blah blah. Yeah. O.k.

    As for training, some of the best logo designers I know haven’t had any formal training/don’t have a degree, and on the flip side, some of the crappiest logo designers get jobs all the time. The guy who designed the horrific Republican National Convention ’08 logo? That idiot went to RISD. It’s a double-edged sword (for me, the contests were necessarily at the time).

    Now I get people messaging me from the same contest sites asking me to participate because they like my portfolio of winners. Well…dunno what to say to them, because I am very wary of wasting my time doing anything good for those people.

    • mg

      amen to your comments regarding 99designs and the frustration of contest holders sometimes choosing less creative designs.

  • Donald G Wooten II

    I wanted to comment on the actual post, but I got caught up in some of theses replies. Why are people so mad at designers? Do you honestly feel as though we should be paid little if anything? I’m left wondering. When none of your customers can see how good you are at what you do, your logo reflects that quality. That isn’t worth something? It’s your identity isn’t it?
    Truth be told, a lot of these BUSINESSES are built on weak philosophies and even thinner names. They just want to make money (off of everyone) and haven’t given much thought to appearing otherwise. Put some THOUGHT behind your business identity and maybe just maybe you’ll understand why you NEED that logo.

    If you can’t do your own logo, the way you want, why shouldn’t you have to pay for a solution. IMO, specific is custom. Revisions are specific. You want a logo designed based on specifics and revisions, you should be paying.

    Play fair.

  • jason

    Nice article. Sporadic thoughts …

    Spec work is always bad. Spec work for a logo is entirely one of the most ludicrous things any self-respecting designer could spend time on.

    Anyone thinking that design and good ideas are negotiable to the point of free contests or low-balled rates has no self-esteem. If a company puts their heart and soul into their business because they truly want to succeed, the business identity and logo deserve the same time and attention. It will inevitably be a representation of that business (possibly for the life of the business).

    Understandably, budgets weigh heavily with any business owner. That said, you get out of it what you put in. Garbage in, Garbage out.

    What is a business worth? What will it be worth? Logo and identity work should take this into consideration IMHO. It isn’t all about how pretty it is and how cheaply you can acquire it.

    Design is not fast-food.

  • Cisco

    Paul Rand who is arguably one of the best logo designers (IBM, UPS, and ABC) has some good thoughts on their purpose:

    “A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.”

    “A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like.”

    It’s a great perspective to me because if your business and what it offers is not great then what good is a fantastic logo design? I think Google is the perfect example where the logo is no where near a “great design” but is one of the most powerful brands in the world.

  • jason

    Cheers Cisco! Paul Rand is a great reference for this topic.

  • Matt

    People who don’t believe in quality work and that it should not be paid for deserve what they get, their $20 logo, and their little shop in a back alley that no one cares about. Any one with some taste(the thing that every single person who goes for a $20 logo lacks) will see your logo/identity, and think “that’s just bad”, “ughh” and will be put off.

    That is the thin line between getting people to respect your company or not, the quality you present. Most people don’t need to see it, but that’s why you get professional designers who know what they’re doing to do that for you. Designers don’t have to be great speakers, writers, just good at communicating visually. They don’t need mile long CVs, because at the end of the day everyone says, “eye for design” “eye for detail” spare the crap you copy paste over and over, just show your work and let the work speak for it self, that’s how you judge good designers.

    To the people who don’t understand, let me put it in simple words: I can walk in to a designer fashion store and get shoes that cost $300 or get the same ones for 20$ because I can buy cheap knock offs, then put those 2 pairs side by side. People will notice, and the ones that do will laugh in your face and walk away.

    Enjoy your $20 fail.

  • Clayton Shumway

    Thank you for the good article. I will agree that most of the time going through a professional design agency will provide great results. However, most business start-ups have a hard time justifying thousands of dollars (especially now) to brand their company. Yes, your logo is KEY to branding your company…but many online sites offer a much more affordable solution to your average start-up.

  • dinda27

    I made some logos for my blog website.
    And I wish to allow anyone to use them.
    What do I did this wrong?
    Because I did not ask permission of the manager on the website.

    I do not put my name on all of these logos.
    Because I use the existing facilities such as Times New Roman font, and else,
    but all my own original creations.

    Thank you for the response.
    Best regards, dinda’kk

  • Logo Design

    It is fantastic writing as well as showing the picture to describe the article more and more on how a logo should not be designed

  • Peter Hinton

    Brilliant post! I hope companies looging for a new logo will find this article before starting the process.
    A good, solid, memorable logo needs time, care and attention to come to fruition

  • Adam Black

    well, I feel like I need to cast my vote on this heated debate over the use of online logo contests.

    By no means would I ever want to spread the idea that “anyone is a designer” which is an unfortunate view in society today. Nor do I have any desire to support the addition to the ocean of terrible design which all ready over pollutes the world.

    Also, I do agree that these logo sites will generally not produce top-quality designs and they lose the full client-designer interaction that is important in quality logo design.

    I DO think that they are a good way for people with a small budget to at least get some type of good design instead of creating their own logo by combining a clip-art illustration with their name written in papyrus.

    I disagree that its “unfair” to the design world. This is the world we live in – go with the flow or sink.

    I think that it can be an experimental creative outlet with a possibility of earning money while you’re having fun. A good opportunity for people trying to learn design or who want to practice design but not as a career as the competition does promote learning in the design field to an extent.

  • josh

    I started a logo site with a friend. We have a current contest going on, but the reason why we started to site was to work on something positive and hopefully connect designers and get an appreciation from the general public as well.

    So, I agree with many of the negative and positive points regarding contests.
    ( But I do think when done appropriately, a design contest can and does help our community.

    I think part of our frustration as designers, is that the general public doesn’t understand the work involved in what we do. Art and talent seems easy when done well.

    What I am touched by is that almost everyone can a appreciate the beauty of a really well designed logo. After seven years, the positive reaction to good design still motivates me to do more.

    God Bless!

  • Raja Sandhu – Logo Designer

    Awesome, Jacob. You have saved me a lot of writing :) Got this linked from FAQ now.

    Thank you WDD for the post.

    – Raja Sandhu Logo Designer

  • KD

    Totally worth reading!! and completely helpful!!! =]

  • nina

    Great post!

    There is a distinct difference in the quality of work of someone who got a graphic design certificate through a two week two week program, and someone who invested years studding the art of visual communication.

    Someone who invested so much time and money into really mastering the art of graphic design will most likely not seek business through a design competition.

    Yes the client does choose, and yes that is very important, but that does not in any way assure the quality of your work. The client might ask you for a rainbow with stars and a lighthouse in the background. It is your job to educate your client on what is good design. You are the master of your craft, and that’s what they’re paying you for.

    Lets not forget — design is known for good looks, but its the conceptual creative ideas that make GOOD design.

    As for DIY — check out this link by Ellen Lupton (One of the most esteemed, acclaimed Graphic Designers of our time). This was very ccontroversial amongst other designers. You can probably find many dialogs on this on the AIGA site…

  • Jacob Cass

    In further support of my anti design contest stance, I’ve just posted my view on Spec Work:

    The “Pros” and Cons of Spec Work

  • Dave

    Some very interesting points of view indeed. Years ago I used to tease one of the designers I worked beside ( I was more of a developer back then) who was classically trained that they would go through the entire process of logo creation taking days and days of work to arrive back at a logo that they could have created in 1 hour. I queried why someone whould have to pay for the process. I conceeded that the process was necessary to ensure a professional job was done, but couldn’t help but wonder if 7 out of 10 times the same logo could have been created by an experienced logo designer in a couple of hours, begging the question, how can you justify such a big price-tag.

    Now, many years on in my career, I have to admit I can totally appreciate both sides of this arguement, and it all, as usual, really boils down to, you get what you pay for, one way or another and if you are going to do it yourself, only shear fluke will result in a professional logo for your company. Its your business, so its your risk to take..

  • Offshore Web Design

    Thank you for sharing this post, I think most of the People don’t understand how important of quality logo design.

  • haberler

    A logo is very important for a firm. It must be unique and professional. If you know a little photoshop you can make it yourself.Its not hard.

  • Andy

    I am agree with you. you are totally right.

  • Logo Inspiration

    haha great post, logos should be drawn in powerpoint, using word art….sarcasm

  • Clippingimages

    Woo Its a really good post … Specially the elaboration is really well sketched

  • Chicago Web Design

    Company logo is too important. It should be creative and custom design which express the your product, brand or services and business. I think only professional and experience graphics designer can do the good job regarding the logo design.

    Thanks for sharing some interesting points in this post.

    Best regards

  • Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing

    Finally something different!! There must be thousand of blogs stating how to design a logo and hardly any of them speak of the common mistakes. I really appreciate your attempt. Thanks for the article.

  • bubba bafferson

    Ha, you sound like a jaded logo designer who is pissed that “the times they have a changed.” You whittled out every option except for “go to a professional design house and pay thousands of dollars, cuz you know that if you pay thousands of dollars, it’ll be top notch.”

    Haaaa!!! is all anyone needs. $100 bucks and you’re done. If the quality of submitters is crap, guess what? THEY LOSE THE CONTEST.

    I got news for you, though…they’re FAR from all low quality.

    You gotta understand–the world is a big place filled with millions of people with every hobby you can imagine. Some of those people’s hobbies are creating things. Like logos. It’s not my thing, but a lot of people get off on it, are good at it, and head to sites like 99designs for the fun of it.

    It’s like tech heads. Got a computer problem you just can’t solve? Type any question into google, like “my copy and paste function doesn’t work in microsoft word” and bingo bongo, there are pages of results of people who have taken the time (for some reason) to post the solution on countless forums dedicated to computer tech issues. Why do they do it? Because, as strange and alien as it seems, they like to do it.

    Just like something as simple as logo design (hell, it even extends to web design, too–type in “how to create rounded corners using dreamweaver for a list of over a dozen step by step tutorials, for example).

    I have over 40 different sites, and all of my graphics (logos, headers, etc) have been outsourced to people found on sites like 99designs, elance and And, all my graphics work has been done for less than what one legit “professional” design firm would have charged for probably one “big company” logo design.

    Oh, and hey, don’t try to tell Phillip Knight that he needs to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a logo…

    //The SWOOSH logo is a graphic design created by Caroline Davidson in 1971. It represents the wing of the Greek Goddess NIKE. Caroline Davidson was a student at Portland State University in advertising. She met Phil Knight while he was teaching accounting classes and she started doing some freelance work for his company. Phil Knight asked Caroline to design a logo that could be placed on the side of a shoe. She handed him the SWOOSH, he handed her $35.00. In spring of 1972, the first shoe with the NIKE SWOOSH was introduced…..the rest is history!//

  • nicepricelogos

    I’m not sure I agree with everything in the article. I do think it is essential to carefully research which company to use for your logo design. I wouldn’t say to avoid all cheap logo design companies though – that’s a bit broad!
    Also the old saying goes ‘you always get what you pay for’ – sometimes small start-ups or micro-businesses can’t afford to go with a bigger agency, and just don’t understand the process of design.
    I agree with your thoughts on logo design contests though, as designers we shouldn’t debase ourselves in this way

  • makalo

    thank you. a few minutes ago someone showed me a website with these contests for 50 bucks….insane price dumping. i dont know why people apply to such contests. And only the winner gets cash. So 40 other guys spent hours to design something….
    the result is that people who work in this business get less paid and beeing told that it must be cheap, look there they make it cheap. and how do you live with nearly no money? …the rich get richer.

    • graphicbeacon

      Well winning the competition give more credibility for their portfolio but the price devalues the work of the winner- makes him/her turn out to be a cheap designer

  • pram99

    design contest sites are predominantly populated with contests which receive submissions that are glaring obvious derivatives of other designer’s work, if not direct rip offs. many submissions are also examples of composites of any number of random, glitzy, shiny 3d icons or other similar stock symbolism. much of the design work features shadowing and similar treatments that reflect current trends of overstated stylization. why is this bad? its not if you want something intended to distinguish your brand from the crowded marketplace.

    indeed, some of the work reflects true talent and skill.

    one of the largest problems is the huge lack of meaningful interaction with the client. to me, in my experience, this element is more important than any other aspect of logo design. deriving an understanding of the business goals, challenges, competitive landscape, spirit, essence etc are mission critical to successful logo design. what trumps this however, is what the client expectations are. more often than not, clients state things like: integrity, high-tech, cool, hip, funky and on and on as input for consideration. the truth is these adjectives mean nothing. they are overused, overestimated and just plain moot in terms of developing an on-target logo.

    doing work without a guarantee of payment is considered by the professional spirit of the industry as unethical. sure, some might disagree. how many plumbers will come fix your toilet or sink based on the speculation you will like their work and get paid? how many attorneys will take your case on speculation (not including contingency – entirely different scenario)?

    graphic design is a profession. is it the same as the medical profession? no, the unique factor that a life is at stake makes the medical field unique above all occupations. is the graphic design profession on par with the legal profession in terms of legitimacy? i’d argue it is. at least in terms of practicing law, rather than being a judge etc. then again, with my disdain for lawyers, i hesitate to even consider the notion.

    for those who haven’t been a client and worked with a design firm or ad agency on a design project, you’d be quite surprised as to what goes in to the process. and of course the professional conduct, strategy, presentation and delivery of the final product is quite an impressive and fulfilling experience.

    for those of you who’ve worked at a design firm or ad agency and worked with a client on a design project, you know how much work goes into the process. you know how important the design brief is, how important account management is, how important communication is, how important establishing mutually agreed upon expectations are.

    it seems to me that a well designed logo cannot result from a process that goes without any of these important elements. sure, you might get something you think looks cool. but, will it be successful for your product or service? or does it work for just you? will it die on the vine when 3D stylization is no longer trendy? will it stand up to years and years of marketing communications, industry changes and competitive environments?

    can a logo make or break a business? yes and no. many businesses are successful despite horrible logos. few businesses are successful whose product or service sucks, but has a great logo. the reality lives somewhere in-between. a logo that supports a well thought out business model, marketing and communications strategy, and breathes life into the essence and spirit of the brand.

    logos are often updated for this exact purpose: to add fresh air to a logo in an increasingly competitive market segment, to reposition the brand, or to update a potentially fading style.

    do you think someone who charges $20, $45, $100, $500 to design a logo even thinks about this stuff? and if so, do they know how to incorporate the insight into a finished logo?

    i’ve been doing logos for 16+ years. i consider myself a specialist. i’ve been paid as much as $5000 for full strategic brand positioning and corporate ID system, and as little as $250 for a “quickie.” of course the $5k project received MUCH more attention and due diligence that the quickie, but my years of experience allowed me to create a $250 logo that was on-target, professional and at the very least a great value for the client.

    many of the design contest clients, more often than not, think they know what they want, have no idea how to express it, rarely recognize it when they see it and have no idea how to recognize the objective implications of a well designed logo. so, they often respond to anything that transcends the distance between scribble on paper, or what they’ve done in MSWord and something bright and shiny on the computer screen.

    the work i generally see at design contest i liken to the sneaker and toothbrush design scenario. always gimmicky and over designed, no subtlety or finesse and entirely serving today’s short-lived trendy aesthetics. ugly, ugly ugly

    logo designs are first and foremost an exercise in objectivity. and secondly, the subjectivity of the finished logo is a matter of craftsmanship and execution. without the objectivity being addressed, you end up with mediocrity.

    stepping off the soap box now.

  • Nic Cramer

    Well, let’s face the ugly Truth… this was my 1st Idea and the Draft took just 30 Minutes to make:

    Quick, what do you see here at the first Sight? And waddaya think this could stand for?

  • Alvaro Hernandorena

    im starting to really love this site

  • Webplore

    Just came across your blog but got some useful information, keep posting.

  • yasomathi

    exactly Paul

    im agree with your points.

  • Shawn Woods

    Good article. My favorite part is the the quote from David comparing the cost of logo design to the cost of houses. Brilliant!

  • web tasarım

    What the author comes back to in most of his points, is that logo’s need a good deal of thought and understanding. I have yet to see a business owner, who’s signing the cheque at the end of the day, not do that.

  • User Experience Consultancy

    Great advice. When it’s too good to be true, be wary!

  • koko

    Thanks for sharing

  • June

    hands and feet up for this one!

  • Roy Ho

    I can’t fully agree with this article as I know first hand that there are plenty of great talented designers bidding for contests and although you might think they didn’t put much thought into a logo, their designs are brilliant which companies can adopt fairly easily. Have a look at….

  • Cheap Logo Design

    iStockPhoto and other major online graphic sites are starting to take more freelance logo design customers. How will your ordinary logo designer stay in business? Maybe they will have to go work for Logoworks ahhhhhhhh!

  • capistran

    Hi, this is my question, Do you is appropriate if I try to create a logo, because I’m not a pro but I know how to use this kind of program, maybe not really well. I hope somebody can help me and thanks . I apologize for my poor english but I’m not an american guy.

  • capistran

    Sorry the question is “Do you THINK is appropriate if I try to create a logo?”

    • makalo

      …that was not the discussion…

  • Shamima Sultana

    very nice concept…

  • Clippingimages

    I definitely disagree with your “Do it Yourself” point. I would certainly go for a professional.

  • Dizajn agencija

    That everything true we same just like in article explain process of logo design to our clients.

  • SEO Wise Design

    very true really underrated these days..

  • AndyC

    Nice article. A good logo is essential and worth paying for. I think some of my clients should read this!

  • Drew

    I would never claim to be able to design logos, but I usually design my own for my web sites. After all, I’m probably the one person who knows when I’m trying to communicate.

    (It would be great to have a professional do it, however. :)

  • jeprie

    i designed my own logo. not as good as what a pro does but i think it’s enough for me.

  • Igor Ivankovic

    CLAP CLAP, or should I say TAP TAP! U put it right where it lands and hurts the most! Those I want excellent adidas nike logo, but I’m kinda short on cash! LOL!

  • Michael Locke

    This is hilarious, but true. Love the big red “X” …like Noooooooo!

  • Rutger van Dijk

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I’ve read your posts about logo design and it got me thinking about my own logo redesign.

    At first, I thougth of using design contest websites (like 99design, inkd, etc.) but after reading your posts I’m not sure anymore.

    I would really love to design my logo, color palette and website myself, but to be honest: i’m not good at it. I realised that, like my own profession as a business analyst, desiging logo’s or other websites is also a profession. Of course you can learn, but if its not your job, it’s a long way.

    Nonetheless I know what I like in colors, layout and style, but actually doing it myself in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is a bridge to far. (even with the excellent ‘logo tutorials’ available).

    At the moment I’m developing my own iPhone app and would like to have an accompanied website and logo (or the other way around). Unfortunately I’m not in the position to pay thousands of dollars on a logo and a site layout/style.

    So, I was hoping there’s something in between: not 99designs, not a pro-studio for Fortune-500 companies, but something in the middle.

    Can you give me some advice on how to find that design studio ?

    With regards,

    Rutger van Dijk

  • Logo Design

    Thanks for sharing such a great stuff, i was just passing by to this post. This blog is really great, i love it.

  • AJ Aerni

    As a professional designer, I wish that people looking to start their own business knew this information ahead of time… I’ll just continue to take it upon myself to “inform” them of such bad practices ;)

  • LT Castor

    I am a designer. It is what I do for a living. I have a small office in Utah with 3 employees. We mainly design business cards, logos and print material. I know that many companies that need design are on a very small budget. I need their business in order to stay afloat. But at the same time I couldnt blame them if they went to a logo contest site like Why? Well because I use to get my “extra” work done that I dont have the time to do. I charge my clients about $300 for a logo normally. I get one from for about $149 and then deliver the final design to my client. No work on my side and my client is happy. I just hope they never find…….

  • Rutger

    I’m following this post with great interest: at the moment I’m in the market for an iPhone app icon. (and color palette + site template)

    Unfortunately, I only have basic skills in Photoshop and Illustrator and lack the funds to hire a ‘professional’ designer. But I know what I like and dislike in colors, style and usage. Looking at the results from 99designs and others it seems a good deal (for the buck).

    On the other hand, when looking at more ‘professional’ sites: that’s what I really want !

    So, (and I asked this question a lot of times on other sites) what are my options ?

    Should I:

    A) Do-it-myself (with the risk of getting a poorly designed logo for the ‘rest of my app life?’)

    B) Raise my budget (from $250 to …..)

    C) Hire 99designs, worth1000, etc. ? (with the chance of a better, but still poor logo)

    D) Lower my expectations ?


    Any suggestions ?

    With regards,


    • Berthold

      Definitely E) Build an app people are willing to pay money for. If you can’t sell your app, why bother having a brand designed for it? Why even bother programming it?

      A) If you can build a proper logo, what is stopping everybody else from writing the app you’re selling and not pay you?

      B) As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for. Pay good money, get a good design. Pay bad money, and you’re really better off flushing it down the loo.

      C) read and understand the article.

      D) Again, if your app is worth nothing anyway, why bother? Logos don’t sell software. Functionality does. If you can’t produce something of value, there is no need for any kind of promotion.

      Man, people need to get their priorities straight…

  • logolitic

    yes you are right, but how to make yourself, as a designer known for clients to hire you for a logo ?

    Logo contests are very useful for designers (i`m talking about good ones, with their own style and don`t copy other designs) to make them known and make a personal portfolio. When they got a nice portfolio they can make a portfolio website and make themselves known.

    Also participating in logo design contests, you improve your skills even if you don`t win. You see a lot of other logos that will inspire you and make you learn a lot of new tweaks.

    So personally I think that design contests are good because it`s very hard to get known by other people and to find clients that will hire you. So why wouldn`t be good logo contests?

    Another thing that I want to point, and this time I`m 100% agree with you it`s the price of the logos. A lot of clients give few dollars and wants a very high quality logo and unique. If you pay just with a few dollars a designer that will tell you that he will make you THE PERFECT logo it`s not true. Pay for high quality things, you pay few + dollars but you will have a fresh new, high quality and unique logo.

  • logolitic

    also you can take a look to my vision in “How to design a successful logo”

  • Rutger

    @ Berthold:

    I think that you completely missed my point: it’s not about the iphone app, a perfect logo or making money!

    It’s about the situation when somebody like me, who has an idea (in whatever form), and wants to do something with it, he (and others) probably will like. But doesn’t have the money to hire a $ 1500,- designer or has the skills to do it himself.

    Then should I just forget my idea or product and throw it all in the waste bin ? Because I’m not willing (or can) pay a normal designers fee ? Or, according to you, “need to get my priorities straight” ?

    I’m asking for some serious and helpfull suggestions, not flaming down my ideas or products. What makes you think in the first place that “my app is worth nothing anyway” or that I can’t sell my app ?

    It’s not about the money; it’s about some enthousiastic, creative and energetic guys that like to make something new and interesting. But lack the experience or network to get this part of the job done.

    Is this, by the way, the way you communicatie with your clients ? I certainly do not hope so, otherwise YOU will run out of business very fast.

    Last but not least, I DID read the article and DID understand it. I didn’t think that the article was that hard.

    • Berthold


      Look Rutger, if it seems like I don’t care what you do it’s because I don’t. I have had this conversation ad nauseam, and I have had it with people who were actually prepared to give me money for my work. Take my advice or don’t, it’s not going to make a difference to me either way.

      Usually when you want something but can’t afford it, do you go around badgering people to give it to you for next to nothing? No, you wait until you can afford it, right? Why should this situation be any different? Just because bad design is cheaper than good design doesen’t mean good design should be cheaper. There are no shortcuts. People don’t work for free. This is true for coders like you and it’s true for designers, like me. You wouldn’t sell me your app for a fraction of the price you’re normally asking, would you?

      If you can sell your app for money, where is the problem in spending money on a good design for it to promote it’s brand? If your app can’t earn money, the best logo in the world won’t change that fact. That’s just how it is. And if you say you can’t afford a brand, then concluding your app doesen’t sell is the only logical way. That’s also where the priority bit figures in.

      I don’t mean to be rude, but people who expect something for nothing will end up with nothing. I have learned that lesson, my clients for the most part learned this lesson, and you will, too. Asking people whether you should take precisely the approach the article told you not to and getting told off in the process may just be the ticket.

      Let me be as precise and honest about this as possible now, so you don’t get me wrong: If you need a good design but can’t afford it you can’t have any. You can’t have a Bentley for the price of a bike, you can’t have a house in the suburbs for the price of a night at the motel. This rules out options A), C) and D) which all either result in you getting a worthless result or someone doing good work for free.

      Go put your app up with whatever design comes with your SDK and when you have saved up the 500 bucks to hire a professional go do that.

  • Matt Sepeta

    Most designers = Divas. Reading most of these responses makes me feel embarrassed

    Don’t listen to these pedantic individuals. If you have a product that the market wants, it could sell itself, in theory. YES, it is nice to have a professionally designed logo, branding, etc, but it certainly DOES NOT trump the product.

    Designers: If you feel it is such a bad business practice, then just ignore it. These businesses with amateur or self designed logos will SURELY fail and vanish soon, leaving only the businesses with the funds to pay for your sacrosanct services : )

  • Drew


    Sometimes you get people like that on the web, swinging their genitals around in the name of being some kind of authority figure.

    Anyway, I’m in a similar position to you: I have a web site in a very rudimentary beta, and graphically it’s a mess – I put it live for SEO purposes. I’ve spent so much time on the back-end that I haven’t focused at all on the design… and as yet the site still doesn’t have a logo or favicon. I also don’t have the means to hire a designer.

    With regard to the logo, I would opt for A. After all, even Google has gone through more than one [favicon] logo, so you can too.

  • jsn

    A few points:

    1) anyone that needs or wants something will always try to get it for less than it is worth.
    2) most everyone outside of a design profession think they can do what designers do — or can come close, or know a nephew.
    3) design is mostly subjective and is difficult to value based on visual appearance given that most people are not designers.
    4) time is money, ideas are money.
    5) don’t insult designers by thinking that your time is more valuable or theirs is less valuable than yours (based on experience, you can’t do what designers do).

    Not all “lower-cost” design is bad, and not all “expensive” design is good. Getting something cheaper is always in the best interest of business, but businesses should respect who they work with and respect their idea enough to be willing to pay someone for time and ideas where there are none.

    None of the issues around design will ever change as long as there are people not charging what their worth! Photoshop != designer, just as MS Word does not make one an editor or writer. Side note: MBA does not make you a smart person… at all!

  • jsn

    damn spellcheck! and no edit! lol

  • jsn

    None of the issues around design will ever change as long as there are people not charging what they are worth! Photoshop != designer, just as MS Word does not make one an editor or writer. Side note: MBA does not make you a smart person… at all!

  • poperechny

    Great article

  • Rahul

    I have learn lot of new things from your post logo design. It’s very very good keep it up post on new techonolgies in designing world.

    Very very good, excellent

  • Jodi

    Good post. Very informative *thumbs up*

  • Johnny Hughes

    But Microsoft Publisher is really good at making logos!

  • Jiggy Creationz

    Amen to that!!! I come across so many people who say Why am I paying that much money when I can do it in Word or Publisher…. my response lately has been go on then! Design cost are always underated by Jo Public yet when it comes to getting a new car or a bra they go for the best looking and most expensive one! Heeeeeelllllloooo You’re oaying for the design!!!

  • J.Pink Logo Design

    +1 – logo contests are terrible for the business. But how can you educate clients when everyone else is offering logos for $50 a go.

  • malkovicht

    :) awesome, great post, thanks to walter and jacob. @loony: wise answer :)

    i agree with loony, maybe it would be a good solution (without have to giving a bad judge to other side) if we could give a proper education not just to client, but to ‘amateur’ designer you mention above :) i believe you are a just like a rockstars or maybe a hero for them, they just want to be like you, help them by providing a good resource, reference maybe step by step how to be a good designer.. (if you not afraid to compete with them)

    lol just kidding, what i want to say is we could bring this job to the advance level not by slash the other but by work together. :)

    your humble reader.

  • http://webdesigner ashok

    its really a great enthusiasm to know something new about logos

  • Susi

    Nice article i am also associated with this business so i am well aware how useful this article really is..

    Commented by:Logo and Stationary Design Firm

    • Lou

      I just checked out your Logo-Genie website and portfolio. I’m amazed at how many misspelled words are in the logos you present. Credibility: 0. I guess it is true: you get what you pay for.

  • Paul

    Great article. Designers need to take the time to look at the business implications of their design. In addition to capturing company culture, mission, and vision, it is important to research your clients competition, markets and industry to really grasp the best way to set them apart from the rest; and create an engaging and meaningful design.

  • Jane

    While saving money and spending it wisely is always important, so is investing in the quality of your logo and your company’s image. True, some companies remain very small, and perhaps a sole proprietorship needs no more than word-of-mouth promotion to make ends meet, but this scenario does not encompass the full gamut of branding needs out there. How many small struggling companies could have grown larger and more successful with proper brand recognition and marketing guidance?

    Logo contests are usually a bad deal, not just for the designers that lose the contest, but for the business as well. While some designers may enter the contests for “fun,” many others are amateurs looking to make money at something they do not yet have a full understanding of. Having come from a fine arts background, then moving into a commercial arts background, I can speak from experience when I say that I had no clue what makes a good logo when I first started down the road towards a career in design. It’s just a pretty picture with the company name, right? Additionally, designers entering such contests are not going to put 100% into their work. With no guarantee of pay, I sure wouldn’t!

    If I were not a designer myself, and I was looking to start a company; I would want to work with someone who could help ensure my image and my success long-term. I would not want someone to throw something at me cheap, without research and without revision.

    I recently completed some gratis signage work for a struggling non-profit start-up. They had turned to an online database full of “Spec” designers for their logo to save money. When I received the “finished” logo files, I was appalled. They were not at all finished or print ready. The work was sloppy. The color was not consistent (3 or 4 slightly different purples instead of 1 color swatch!). Elements of the logo that should have been joined and expanded were not. Areas of the logo that should have been trapped to ensure that it would print correctly had not been trapped. Vector shapes that should have been smoothed and finessed were rough and choppy as many of the points in the path had not been toggled or adjusted. It was a mess that someone had thrown together in about 15 minutes.

    Now, if you are not a designer, all of those things probably sound like a big pile of mumbo-jumbo. But, while they only encompass some of the technical issues associated with a finished logo file, every last item is important.

    As much as I would love your business, I’m not going to include my company or contact information, because I do not want any reader to feel that I am only writing this to promote myself. But please do consider the input that these designers are trying to provide for you here. Your company’s relationship with a professional designer should not be a “one-shot.” You should be working with someone who has skill, knowledge, and experience, and who will invest themselves in the success of your company. Someone who will be there for the “long haul” to provide you with consistent and effective results. Not someone who spends 15 minutes using the pen tool (poorly!) in Illustrator, sits back and waits for their $50, and then never works with you again.

  • James

    Hi Jacob,

    The points you mentioned are most common points and people do it repeatedly, thanks for bringing in light.

    I was really wondered when a designer did a logo for me in 2 hours.. they just want to create a design thats it.

    Few people are reluctant to spend money on logo and they just want to get in done in cheap budget.

    Very nice article

  • Victor Shakapopulis

    What is a “PRO” anyway?

    Good logo design is, for the most part, subjective.
    To call oneself a pro is to guarantee that all your designs will be “good”.

    I just don’t see how that is possible.

    Of course it takes talent, but you don’t have to be a pro to be able to do it.

  • lyric screaming

    Has anyone seen the new Seattle’s Best logo? I bet that cost a lot to create it looks mediocre at best.

  • media designer

    If you don’t value design, don’t hire designers. Simple.

    I don’t pay a chiropractor, psychic, psychiatrist or interior decorator for the same reason. I just don’t complain about it.

  • Rebecca

    I’m in favor of DYI. If you enjoy designing logos yourself, believe you have talent, have the training, and can look at your work with an unbiased eye, go for it. Many businesspeople, though, love their homemade logo only because they’re sentimental about it, like that pencil cup their kindergartner made.

    I don’t design logos because I know from experience that mine will never look as good as those of someone who has the talent for it (software’s good, too, but confusing the two is a mistake). That’s why I work with designers in the first place — my content is better and their designs are better, so together we can create a better final result. So I’m echoing all the others here who are speaking out in favor of hiring someone good and being willing to pay for it.

    But I have to say that taking months to design a logo suggests a lack of seriousness, or a committee.

    People who need a logo and have a limited budget can hire a local design student, an offshore designer, or another talented person with a lower cost of living. This is a better solution than stealing or cobbling together something yourself.

  • Amy Stewart

    Logo contests are the equivalent of anonymous sex in a bus station bathroom.

    I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years, and I simply can’t see how doing a proper company identity can possibly take place in a day. A logo is so much more than just graphic elements; it is the public face of your company, and what ends up living in the minds of your audience.

    Professional designers who have respect for the process– and their clients– will do many hours of research to make sure that your logo makes sense from a marketing standpoint. A designer needs to spend time living in head of the client, and also into the head of the customer. That requires a personal relationship with the client, and plenty of time to research the marketplace. This is why it’s absurd to think that anonymous contestants churning out overnight “designs” can ever replace the relationship you have with a proper designer who thoroughly understands you, your business goals, and where you need to be.

    I spend a minimum of several hours on every logo project scouring the web to see what others with similar names are doing, and what the competition is doing. If you just throw together the first thing that comes into your head, you could very well be going down the same path others before you have done. Or worse- you could be duplicating something that’s already out there, and getting your client into a world of hurt and copyright infringement trouble.

    I like to give myself at the bare minimum of 1 week to let my ideas gestate before I show anything to my clients. I often will sketch the first things that come into my head after the first client meeting, but then I sleep on it, and let it grow and flourish in my subconscious. Many hours of thought, inspiration, and time go into it. And so do all my years of design experience.

    I agree that some companies don’t need to spend a ton of time or money on a logo. They will have business regardless, and a professional or unique image is not essential to their success. You can paint “Bait Shop” on a piece of cardboard and tape it to the door, and you will probably sell just as much bait. But the wired world is both much larger and much smaller, and rare is the business that can get by without thinking about how they fit into the bigger picture.

    There is nothing self-serving about defending the logo design process and our many years of effort that have gone into honing our skills.

  • Nathan Sarlow

    Well I think Jacob knew the pandora’s box he was opening when he started dissin’ the old ‘logo competition’ – all of the arguments have been used over and over.

    I think the question that remains is ‘How do I find a decent designer at a decent price?’ There’s no ‘design quality association’ and a design dunce can quite easily charge $1000 for a garbage result. Does this mean that all professional designers are overpriced and under-providing? No, but it really doesn’t help the random business owner to find a reputable designer without a lot of research.

    I personally feel sorry for any business owner in the position of having to work out who is decent, compared to what they’re charging. Sounds like an uphill battle and there’s no wonder so many people end up at 99rips.

  • Berthold


    From a designer’s point of view, the solution is to always be professional and always be worth their money so customers never even consider going somewhere else. There will always be newcomers to the market who don’t know what to look for in a designer, and they will learn it sooner or later, through trial & error if they have to. But once you’ve found a good designer, you stick with him, which is of course beneficial for both sides.

    Pleasing existing customers is so much more valuable for designers because a) their customers trust them and b) they can trust their customers. The latter really comes into focus if you consider that about 80% of new businesses collapse within their first 3 years. So even if you made concessions to that customer so that they could get something they couldn’t really afford yet, you will be out a client once again when they go under. Bad deal.

    • Nathan Sarlow

      Yeah I understand that (i’m a professional designer myself), but as you can see from many posts above, a newcomer (especially one with no design understanding) will have no idea how to differentiate between a good and bad designer – and the rates being charged is no indication. Trial and error isn’t a very comforting approach to a small business with a tiny budget.

      Unfortunately you DON’T always get what you pay for. Sometimes you luck out and get decent work from 99scams and sometimes you pay a large firm and get dudded.

      Really, the only way to help the end consumer is to have some kind of global quality recognition certification. One that can’t just be bought, and that stays with the designer, not necessarily with a firm.

      All I can suggest to people looking to rebrand is to do some research. Contact the companies from a designers portfolio to see how the process went rather than just relying on the results.

      Also, not all professional designers charge an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to save a few pennies, look for a freelance designer rather than an agency.

      • Berthold

        Freelancers have by far the worst chances of being decent – not because they are less educated or experienced per se, but the sheer mass of people claiming to be freelancing designers simply destroys any odds there.

        There also is never ever going to be a way of certifying designers, the volume and leeway is way too high. The best a company can do indeed is look at the portfolio, check how many sites they did recently and whether they are online. The rest is professional conduct.

        I stand by my opinion that long-term relationships between agencies and businesses are by far the most valuable way of ensuring quality; for both sides. If you find yourself looking for new designers on a regular basis, you’re doing it wrong. Likewise of course if you’re a designer constantly in need of new clients.

      • Nathan Sarlow

        The suggestion to ‘go freelance’ wasn’t a recommendation of quality over an agency, just the next step up (in terms of cost) from going down the competition route.

        Having said that, at least with a freelance designer, you know (or assume) that they actually designed the logos in their portfolio. With an agency, you get a portfolio mash of the whole company, including work from some senior designers and some from previous employees, both of which you may have little chance of working with on your own project.

        All that aside, it still doesn’t address the issue of how a design-dunce is able to determine who is decent and who isn’t when looking for a ‘long term relationship’.

        PS – Good on you if you’re not looking for new clients too :)

  • victoria Mitchell

    This is a fabulous post! I was about to write an article about this very subject but cam across yours… Gave a post on my blog to it.


    – vixen

  • Cristian

    The third one from “Getting A Design Without Feedback” cracked me! Thanks for making my day!!!

  • nicktalop

    Just try to replace the word “logo” with “personnality”. Who would want to have a “personnality” that has been replicated a thousand time, a cheap “personnality” or a “personnality” that sucks?

    You wouldn’t invest is a car that sucks, or a house that just looks like crap. But you’re OK to spare on your “personnality”, right?

    • Jason

      Valid point until you misspelled “personality”.

  • DJ

    I understand the argument and I see it from both points of view. But I wonder if all of your graphic artists hire professional writers to write your website, brochure, and other sales copy- or do you do it yourself?

    Writing often gets devalued in the same way. People want articles, web copy, and other things for $5 of they prefer to write it themselves. It irks me a bit, but I don’t focus on that. I focus on clients who are willing to pay.

    When you are just starting a business, it’s not wise to spend all of your money on certain services. That’s just the way it is.

    I’m not saying to just get over it, but just realize that’s the way it is. The people who want to do it themselves or who want to bid on contests most likely wouldn’t have hired you anyway so it’s not really taking any money out of your pocket.

  • http://- idea fresh

    I think you are wrong, if you said that a logo design should be strict and able to compare with a price of house, because logo design should be FLEXIBLE not similar to a house. A house is having variation of high fix price caused by EXACT measurement such as how much the cost for the land, raw material and the other cost related to build a good house.

    Logo design only need time and creativity based on brief overview. Each customer need a nice logo and affordable price. The price of a logo is not like to buy a house. Sometimes we found a logo design created only an hour but it works, rather than a weeks but the result is bad and not what the client looking for, wasting time!

    Be flexible so that the customer will come to you, again and again!

  • posicionamiento web

    This is nothing more than protectionist drivel seemingly designed to scare people away from amateur/non-professional designers.

    I’m a particularly big fan of the irony of “$199 logo design” ads from google ad words.

  • Inkzoo Graphic Design services

    well i also agree that logo design is quite under-rated and strangely executed today.
    Freelancers and non-professional do work nice at times, however we always advice SMBs to lookout for Professionals.
    Hope out blog will help to enforce the importance of custom logo designing:

  • How do you?™

    Great article,

    thanks so much for the post will definitely take your advice on board

  • Christine

    Great post, and a really interesting dialogue.
    At the end of the day, a designer who sends through a “slick and pretty” bid in a contest usually has limited pertinent information about the client’s company (i.e. target market research, local demographics, competitor profiles,etc.)
    Logos are not art, so the lack of real design research or any strategic process is all very “fluffy.”

    If the clients are happy with their $99 logos and find that they are fairly successful as business owners, their success probably has very little to do with their corporate image and a whole lot to do with a great product or service.
    Imagine how much MORE they could be making if their logos were created to communicate to their target customer, and if the final mark was absolutely in line with their company objectives. (Read….created by someone that specializes in professional visual communication.)

  • Jane

    After reading new responses, and rereading some older ones, I felt the need to chime in again. I see a lot of people taking objection to the idea that a logo can “take months.” I would like to point out that it says “can,” not “does” or “always.” It really depends on the client, their ownership and management structure, and their needs.

    As a designer, I have had clients (who were sole proprietors, or were incorporated, llc. etc. but were the owners, CEO’s and sole decision-makers) with whom I have been able to work with quickly and closely and nail down an effective design solution in a matter of days. Why was this possible? Because the client was actively involved, receptive, responsive, and the only party (aside from myself) involved with the final approval.

    I have had other clients (partnerships, or other companies structured to share marketing and management decisions, etc.) where it has taken a few months to finalize their logo design. Why a few months? Because there were multiple parties placing their input on the process. Multiple people who had to feel that their suggestions and opinions were being considered and reflected in the selection and revision process. Multiple people who had to come to agreements and share in the final approval of the logo. Does this happen every time? No. Is it a bad thing when it does? No. At no time has any client falling into this latter group been upset about the time it took to perfect their logo. Quite the contrary; they have been extremely satisfied because they took the time to go through the process and ensure that the final result truly met their longterm needs and expectations.

    My point? There is a huge difference in designing for an individual company owner, and designing for a panel. There is a huge difference between a client who is pulling an all-nighter and responding to your emails every 30 minutes, driven to see things through; and the client that needs to take the time to mull things over, ask others what they think, and gets back to you later. Neither is more right or wrong than the other. They just have different needs. And no designer should be criticized for attending to the individual needs of their client. It’s what good designers do.

  • SA

    Just my two cents,

    When design adapts the ‘feel’ of a company and can be perceived in all it’s forms of communication, I agree, this is an area of expertise where a professional will be more than beneficial. Providing a single logo won’t do the trick.
    And in my opinion it isn’t hardly worth anything without good use.
    (eg. if your dentists has to make you false teeth, you wouldn’t want them in a box right?’)

    Large companies spend large budgets, but however designers get paid good money, a great part of it goes to implementing the new design in the company.
    (printing banners, stickering vans,…)

    If you want to help out small companies make them understand how to use their logo and don’t just hand it over. make them understand that it’s an allround message. And when you’re dealing with small budgets, you’re more likely to deal with limitations. Coping with these limitations is something all people do in their professions.. it’s what makes the good excell.

    I’m no designer myself, so who am I to speak?
    I studied communication management a while back. I lack the insights to make beautiful designs and work with nice colour palettes. But I do appreciate decent design and I understand it’s value. But when I started working on my own I had to buy the gear I needed for the job, wich left me zero bucks for designing my logo and business card.

    I knew I wanted to keep the design basic mainly because that allowed me to implement it easily. But also because I knew I was gonna screw up more complex designs.
    I already had a black van, black t shirts and black flightcases. So I opted for a black and white logo. Which made it cheaper to print the van, easy to print black t-shirts, easy to spray paint flightcases.. and the logo would remain intact when sending b/w invoices.

    Creating my own logo made me think about how I saw my own business and it’s values. If not for the design itself, the whole thinking process paid off and it gave me a lot of gratification when I saw my first t shirts and business cards printed.

    Designers shouldn’t just stick to designing. Make your clients understand how to use it. Make them understand the work you put into the design and why. Help them implement the design. Someone talked about the body shop. Well, the green is just green because they had a green can of paint at the time. They made a choice and stuck with it.

    i wouldn’t want to pay 10 000 pounds for a design. I would for a company image.

  • Web design Shrewsbury

    Logo contests are defiantly not a good idea for a processional logo designer.

    I think the moral of the story is basicly you pay for what you get – cheap designs will most certainly be stock images changed a little bit in photo-shop.

    Logo design can take months to finalise, due to all the people who have a input in the logo project. Especially if you have been commissioned by a corporate client.

    Great article guys :)

  • Charly

    On a designer perspective, i agree with all those arguments but it would be harder to convince a client looking for a logo than hundreds options and concept are not better than a single designer working on 2 or 3 concepts just for him.
    I ve seen some logo contest websites suggesting around 30 logos and the ability of the customer to give feedback to each designer to make the logo according to the business owner.
    Finally, the client has more chance to get the logo that he wants or at least he can choose the one he prefers.
    Again, this is another debate but client who will choose those logo contest are not the client designers want to work with…

  • Rachael

    Brilliant article Jacob and I totally agree with it. People need to be educated on what good logo design involves and that it is an investment not just something that goes on a letterhead. It’s something that should reflect the business, tell potential clients/customers how professional that business is and be something that people should remember (for good reasons!). Plus… it’ll appear on all business literature from letterheads to websites for many, many people to see! A cheap, rushed logo will do more harm than good.

    I’m an experienced freelance designer and value my work. Clients get a professional service with me as if they were working with a design company so there is no way I’d start undervaluing my work with these competitions. If a client likes my work and are happy with my prices they hire me – simple. I also explain to my clients how I work, so they understand the design and thinking process a little more.

  • Neurotoxine

    The whole problem resumes in basic understanding of design, communication, branding and marketing (and art maybe).

    If your are looking for a good looking logo, go for an artist, she knows how to combine colors, forms and maybe, fonts. And will end up coming with a good looking “something” that may please you depending upon what you’ve briefed her.

    Art doesn’t need to have a reason why supporting its process, at least not in its general concept. Art is for enjoying and not for “intelectualizing” it (yes this could turn into another discussion).

    Design, in the other hand, must answer to another things: Concepts, objectives, targeting, requirements, market, competitors, styling and culture, to name a few. Sometimes, the brief from the client can cover everything, sometimes not. A professional designer or an agency could do some meetings to fill up the blanks, but when the price is low, commonly the designer fill up the blanks for himself, assuming some ideas that could be much accepted or deeply mistaken.

    For the designer (as an artist) you could come to some forms, colors, ideas to “decorate”, that’s the fun part, but commonly, every decoration have a hidden reasoning behind. The methods in design, exist. And for you the design analphabets, I will tell you the two most common:

    Scientific Method: You back up a lot of info about the product, the market, etc everything I mentioned before. Then, formulate and hypothesis, and create the prototype for this hypothesis. You try it and you evaluate it. Once the process is done, you’ll know how the prototype works and based on evaluating if the concept, objective, market, style and everything else, fulfills the original definitions, you decide what to change, what to not. Even then you could realize the concept, or an objective is wrong, you could even realize that your client doesn’t need a logo, he needs a fridge that keeps the beers cool for a longer period. That’s another part of our work, consulting.

    Then, you could use another method also well known: back box (I don’t know if it’s called the same in english, but the idea is the same.
    It’s called black box design because, you receive some requirements as before, and you enter the black box and come out with something. Sometimes is great and you have to analyze it so you could explain what did you do, but for most of the time, you will always end up with something that any designer could smash to pieces when analyzed, or so so.

    From these two points of view, or methods to confront a design project, I dare you to guess what’s the one used in the contest low priced sites… black box.

    In the other hand, sometimes clients seem to live in the basement of a bunker and came out for a logo because they hear in the radio that everyone has one.

    If you have a product that doesn’t worth the money, I mean, you have a product that hasn’t been thought enough and there’s none eager to buy it, the design won’t solve your problem. Indeed, the design could increase the chances that someone MISTAKENLY buy your product. But it’ll surely end in the trash bin.

    Commonly the clients looks for 3 things one can read in a design: Superb quality, uniqueness and exclusivity. WOW that’s at least stupid. The design won’t make your hygienic paper of superb quality whatever it says the design. You should change your working process and make the hygienic paper from a softer and tougher material!! A design won’t make your enterprise more reliable at all, but may obviously help with the image your clients take from your card… but if you attend a meeting in shorts, no design may save you.

    So, investing great in good design and being aligned with your products or services and the marketing campaigns honoring the branding, would do a lot of good to your business.
    Investing great and having your internal politics on the Corporate identity misaligned will end in a dissonant corporate image perceived, lowering the perception value of your business.
    Investing poorly in good product will not be a problem, if the product is good you would sell it anyway and you could change your image afterward.
    Investing poorly in a bad aligned product or service, will throw you to the trash bin or at least will be a perfect companion for a bad thing.

    My 2 cents.

  • ThePixelDoc

    An interesting discussion to say the least. As a designer now for some 30+ years, I’ve seen my fair share of trash designs, and continue to do so daily. Heck… I’ve designed more than a few logos that I’m ashamed of, and I think we all have. We were not born “pros”, we did develop and got to that point through hard work, learning and observing.

    That’s what I want to point out here. To this day I make a high echelon income year after year by catering as best I can to my client’s wants and wishes, with an eye to detail and how a logo and/or design will be implemented across the breadth of the client’s communications. Many times I have to make “personal compromises” re: taste, but if at all possible, I educate my clients why a certain idea or design change may not be financially a good choice for them.

    The average person loves colorful, shiny, objects… much like a bird. Just take a quick look at Even the “community” is “Blinded By Bling™”. It’s a designer’s JOB to make the client aware that there are times, places, and printing/display jobs where you can throw on the Bling. However, the basis logo and design has to lend itself to different processes in the first place.

    TIP for young designers: work in black and white FIRST… then add Bling. In fact I do all of my initial designs and concepts only in BW, positive and negative, as some other pros have pointed out above. Confession: yes, my design career started with inking logos, and then BW Postscript reduced using a repro-camera. Hard to break ol’ habits… but then again, why would I? As far as I’m concerned… it is the ONLY way, and the same as understanding shadow/light in photography and painting.

    Also, I always start out my client presentations in BW as well. Then I start to add color treatments and variations, possibly a drop-shadow, or a 3D mock-up of assorted merchandise and displays, like die-cuts, etched signage, LED light signage, website fronts, etc… and lately App icons. With each treatment, I point out the versatility, recognition, and “cost-savings” I built into the design. This gets them every time :) I do receive a certain amount of the “savings”, but once, as opposed to the life of the design. Fair enough.

    Re: Logo Design Contest sites
    I think they’re OK for some people and businesses. Actually a good portion of my work and business is cleaning up after bad logo and initial design decisions. Truthfully, I have an easier time of convincing the clients after they’ve thrown their money down the drain a time or 2, and actively seek clients that have “experience” so-to-speak. Also, I get to see what they like and what they rejected, and ask pointed questions as we narrow down to a design solution.

    My philosophy if anyone needs it or cares: I want my clients to be proud of their business image when they hand out their card, mail an invoice, or drive around in their delivery truck. I want them and their employees, to be enthusiastic and motivated every day they get to walk past their sign going to work in the morning. My taste and design-sense be damned… it is the client that has to embody their design and live with it plastered all over the place, day in and day out. I just hold their hand awhile design-wise through my expertise… so they can confidently… get on with theirs.

  • Marco Campos

    personaly i loved your article.
    but here is a problem: even knowing how unique a logo should be how do i convince my bosses that is better to not do a contest to find a logo?

  • Rutger

    Very interesting discussion, especially because I could be one of your clients looking for a logo, stationary or website design.

    As one-man-startup-company, I AM looking for some design because I know it will look horrible if I would do it myself. But I’m still trying to find out with path to choose….

    I hope i’m getting the point from the discussion above: if you don’t want to do serious business or don’t have a product that you believe in, stop wining and fire up Photoshop. Don’t even bother to have someone design it for you.

    On the other hand, isn’t there a way in the middle ? Like not spending a few thousand dollars but also not getting a crappy $99 logo from 16-year-old-wanabee designer ?

    I absolutely see the (business) value of a well-designed company logo or stationary, but it’s not always possible to pay that amount of money for start-ups.

    Any thoughts ?

  • Logo Design NZ

    In almost every case you get what you pay for. Really though, a great logo should not cost more than $1000 and if it is focused on by both designer and client the result would last the life of most businesses.

  • arlcrane

    This debate is very entertaining. Consider the University of Colorado and their $ 780 K (yes, that’s $ 780,000) “re-branding”, which was apparently, primarily a redesign of their logo. Do you think they got good value for their money? I’m sure the client had a lot to do with the excessive cost.

    Wait til you see the design……’s such a radical change. I’m sure the design firm got a lot of running around by the university, but this has got to be embarrassing.

  • Alyssa Baches

    I’m looking for a new magazine logo.

  • JunioR

    Haha, you recommend not to make a Logo by yourself and the first related post is: How to Create a Professional Logo^^