Create your own logo? 5 mistakes that make your “free” design quite costly
“I’ve created my own logo.” It’s the sentence every designer dreads hearing when a business owner approaches, ready to extend their visual branding.
With so many software and online tools available, it’s common for entrepreneurs to start playing around with logo designs for their business. After all, if you can create your own logo for free, why not? How hard can it be? Unfortunately, what seems like a bargain in the beginning is often the first step in a very costly process. Here are just five (of many) mistakes entrepreneurs make when they decide to be their own logo designer.
1. File format, size, and resolution
A professionally designed logo is prepared as a vector file. Vectors are lines formed by mathematical formulas, which maintain crisp and clear edges at any dimension. They are small file sizes – easy to share, print, and scale. When you create your own logo in a program like Photoshop or Corel Paint, the result is a raster image made of pixels. Just like a photograph, it will appear fuzzier the bigger you blow it up. Raster files are detail dense with pixel-by-pixel information, making their larger file sizes difficult to share and work with.
The comparison below shows how the same logo design degrades when scaled. Although the original version appears clear, you can see how the raster image quality deteriorates at a larger size. The vector version will maintain perfect quality whether printed on the side of a pen or a skyscraper.
Ever wonder why the logo you made has a weird white box around it? Raster logos are flattened images. If you made your logo on a standard white background, that white box is now part of your new artwork. A professional designer will provide file formats that allow for transparency, avoiding the amateur “weird white box” look.
3. Font outlines
Professional designers will convert logo text into outlines. Each letter is then made up of anchor points and curves. Without this, the logo (or any document) you provide will look completely different when viewed on a computer that doesn’t share the same fonts as your own system. Size, shape, and alignment can be completely out of whack, but the recipient would be none the wiser. The only way to otherwise avoid this would be to purchase font licenses for each and every computer your file would be used on. That’s not only costly, but completely unrealistic.
4. Color codes
Homemade logos almost never come with color codes and most definitely never with proper brand guidelines for usage. Your software’s color picker may generate the on-screen hue you like, but that same color code in print (or even on another device) could look completely different. Professional designers will start with a Pantone color, which is a pure and premixed ink printed on quality-controlled color fans for comparison. A brand cannot be instantly recognized if the color palette they use shifts from one application to another.
5. Copyright and copycat
Copyright and trademark violations are serious infractions that come with stiff penalties. Many people will begin creating their own logo using images or drawings they swipe from the web or even using the likeness of well known characters. These are not free for the taking! Purchasing clip art or stock imagery is one way of legally obtaining artwork suitable for logo design. However, a great deal of affordable, royalty-free artwork is easily recognized as generic. Without the software or skills to fully customize these pieces, you run the risk of seeing your exact same design in another person’s DIY project.
Create your own logo with the understanding that your “free” design can end up being quite costly.
At minimum, you’ll reach a point where you need to pay a designer to redraw or recreate your design to produce suitable file formats. If professional re-branding is advised, the process is extensive and includes market research, strategy, and profiling before a logo design begins to take shape.
By then, how much cash will you have invested in printing and promoting with your homemade logo?
How much time will you have wasted wrestling with incorrect logo files?
How many years will you have spent creating first impressions that didn’t do your business justice?