How To Ruin a Logo
Reading time: 10 minutes
Why is it important to have a great logo design? Your logo is often the first thing people will see in relation to your business. It’s your business’s first impression. You don’t want to come on too strong and you definitely don’t want to come on too weak. A perfect logo design is just like your favorite pair of pants. They always fit right. Make your backside look great. And the style works with pretty much all of the tops in your closet.
That’s what a great logo design feels like.
But today we’re going to talk about ways that you’re ruining your logo. Maybe before you even have a logo. But it should be noted that even great logos can be ruined with a little tweaking.
Without further ado, here is a list of the 4 ways that you too, can ruin your logo!
1- If there’s one method I see clients doing to ruin their logos on the regular, it’s this: Add a drop shadow.
I understand the reasoning behind people wanting a drop shadow. Sometimes you have a background image that you want to put your logo over top of, but when you do, your logo is hard to read. Maybe you feel like it doesn’t “P-O-P” enough. I get it, I do. But 9 times out of 10, adding the drop shadow is a bad idea. What usually happens when adding a drop shadow is that it makes your logo look blurry and difficult to read on it’s own.
And another issue, if your logo doesn’t usually use a drop shadow, adding one can change the way your logo is perceived or digested by the eye. The purpose of having a dedicated logo is to help build your brand recognition. The human eye can recognize a brand mark nearly instantly after being conditioned to it. Making changes, even subtle changes to your logo can hinder your brand recognition. And that will make your designer and marketers very sad :(
2 - Make your logo indistinguishable from your content. Ruin it by changing your logo’s color, orientation, or use it as a pattern.
This easy way to ruin your logo includes changing your logo color to “match” the new flyer your creating. Putting your logo over a busy pattern. Changing the orientation of your logo. And using your logo as a pattern. A logo is something that should be kept as consistent as possible. If your logo is presented straight across horizontally, avoid turning it at an angle. Using your logo as a pattern will ensure that peoples’ eyes “read” the pattern as a whole, instead of digesting your logo as its own separate entity. This again, goes back to ruining brand recognition. It’s difficult to put a precise number on it in terms of value, but brand recognition is often stated as marketers main initiative in order to increase business profits. There’s quite a bit of research out there that states the importance of it for businesses. I’ve collected my favorite stats on branding and how it can help here:
3 - Ruin your logo by using clip art in your logo design.
There’s no better way to make sure your logo is easily replicated and not original. The point of a good quality logo is to be the singular mark that separates you from all others. Logo design is not something that should be taken lightly. It should be developed from research and insight into what your brand is all about.
Maybe you’re tempted by the fact that clip art is FREE? Well, this is only slightly true. Some (most) clip art is copyrighted. That means it would be illegal for you to use the clipart that you found via Google.
There are sites who sell clip art to people (Etsy). This option can be a good solution for brand new businesses who are not yet a year old, and don’t have any monies to invest into their business. As long as you know the artist created it themselves.
And that brings me to the dangers of Fiverr.
Another way to get a similar result as plagiarized clip art logos, is to use fiverr. Sorry (not sorry) but we are throwing some real shade at Fiverr here for a second. Sometimes tough love is the only kind of love to give!
So here’s how Fiverr works:
You put out a brief for a logo design you want. Offering the standard $5 for the person who “wins” your competition for the logo design, ie the ‘designer’ whose logo you pick.
Designers read your brief, and create something for you that they hope you like, in hopes that they will be picked to be paid $5.
That means these ‘designers’ are putting out content as quickly as possible. It’s a numbers game to them. If they apply to win $5 from 100 briefs, they might win 10%, which earns them $50.
They’ll create a logo design in 5 minutes, when possible. In order to design anything in 5 minutes, they have to rely on either past designs, clip art, or… stealing.
Once, when I was young and naive, I was looking for an assistant designer via Upwork. But I didn’t have the cash flow to pay a quality designer so I was searching based on a (pretty low) hourly rate. No shade at Upwork, there are definitely quality designers on there, but these same designers who have really low hourly rates, are similar quality to the designers who are on Fiverr. Nevertheless I put a job out there and the applications started pouring in. I found two designers whose work I enjoyed. Their designs looked really polished and clean! Then I dug deeper.
The first young man whose work I was liking, actually had the Twitter bird logo as an example of his work. TWITTER.
The second designer, a young lady, had stolen lesser known artists work and promoted it as her own. It was lucky that I followed these other designers on Instagram. One girl whose work had been stolen I had been in contact with off and on via DMs, so I sent her a picture of her work and asked if perhaps they worked on something like that together. She confirmed that no, she had done the work herself and had no idea who this designer on Upwork was.
The point of the story, watch out for clip art in your designs. It makes it too easy for others to copy your logo design and it could be considered plagiarism. Also watch out for designers who charge very, very little. Chances are they’re putting quantity over quality and you might be the one who ends up in trouble because of it. If you can afford it, pay someone to develop your logo. Another cheap option if you don’t have the budget for it is to go to your local college or community college and ask a student to create a logo for you. It may not be a design that will last you years, but it can be a good place to start for low budget designs.
If after all the options I’ve listed for you and reasons why you shouldn’t use clipart in your logo, you really need some clip art, my two favorite free and legal resources are Freepik, which even offers the ability to search for graphics and images that have ‘no attribution required’, and Vecteezy. Vecteezy does require attribution though, so make sure you’re giving credit where it’s due!
Now you know the easiest ways to ruin your logo! You can add drop shadows or other design-y elements to your logo. You can adapt your logo’s brand colors or format to make it ‘fit’ where you want. Or, if you really want to ruin your logo, use clip art in your design! There are actually many other ways that I can think of off the top of my head, but these are great places to start… But please don’t. <3
Thank you so much for reading! If you’re worried that you may be ruining your own logo, feel free to send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to help you out, or let you know if you’re safe from making these mistakes!
Unless you have a photographic memory, you might forget some of this stuff. So we made this handy pin to help you remember this information! And, if you’re considering starting a branding project or would like to learn more about logos, you can sign up for weekly (ish) emails that share useful branding, marketing and design content for entrepreneurs.
Extra note - in order to keep design time down when making my graphic banners, I used a free graphic in my own cover image for this blog post! But attribution was required—see here :)