The problems with cheap logo services

Over the past 12-18 months, there has been a steep rise in the amount of cheap logo providers. While the offer of potentially hundreds of designs for a very small fee might sound appealing (and can be useful to the low-budget end of the market), it’s worth being aware of the implications:

1. The designer may not be qualified

To become a design provider for websites which provide cheap logo services, the designer is not required to have any design qualifications. While this can be a good place for students to gain some experience in designing logos, it doesn’t mean the final outcome will be ideal for your business. If they are not qualified (or lack experience), they will not be able to provide professional design advice either.

2. They can be from anywhere worldwide

For all you know, someone in Iceland has designed you a logo for your Australian bathers company. While that statement might sound funny, if you have someone from overseas designing a logo for your business, they may not be aware of local expectations, customs, your audience or your competitors. It is by chance if they are able to design a relevant logo without having knowledge of those.

3. The designers aren’t available to find out more about you and your business

Following on from “being anywhere worldwide”, on most cheap logo provider websites, you (the client) has to provide a short brief of what you’re looking for in a logo – however, in standard practice, the designer usually finds out a lot more than just what you’re looking for. The designer will normally ask questions about your business goals, your target market, what makes you stand out from your competitors, and more. The answers to these questions then forms a brief the designer works from. Without this communication, many of the provided logo designs are often just stylised interpretations of the business name – and that’s not good business sense.

4. The design may not be original

You have to think to yourself, “why are these logos so cheap?”. To be churning out so many logos in such a short timeframe (and without the necessary business research and briefing process), it is almost guaranteed that not all designs provided to you through the cheap logo services will be original. Situations that can happen are:

  • They may have used clip-art, which is owned by someone else.
  • If they have used clip-art, the license may only cover personal use (not commercial).
  • They may re-use a generic design another customer has turned down.

5. Only the “winning” designer is paid

While you may feel this doesn’t concern you, it isn’t accepted industry practice. An example from another industry would be if you took your tax return to 5 different accountants and only paid the one who got you the biggest return. It doesn’t happen in the financial industry, so it shouldn’t be happening in the design industry either. Industry bodies AGDA and DIA are against such services as it is ultimately “work for free” which has even further legal issues for businesses utilising design services and the industry alike.