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I Need A Logo, Part One

Okay, so you’re in the market for a graphic designer to help out with your business. And by the look of things, you obviously have an internet connection with a myriad of options and related costs, making it tempting to go with the quick and cheap. But wait; there are a couple things you need to know before you venture into the nebulous design industry. There are a few misconceptions to clear up first.

“I can have my brother-in-law’s plumber’s niece’s baby daddy do my logo. He’ll do it for $50.” At first, this is a very tempting offer. But let’s put it into perspective. If you want to get your car painted, do you A: go to a professional shop where the people there do it every day, or B: clear out Wal-Mart’s inventory of spray paint and make a weekend of it? Exactly.

“There are websites that sell logos for $79. A logo can’t be worth much more than that.” Any logo you get from the internet will do very little to represent the individuality of your company. It will, however, look a lot like everyone else’s logo, so, if you’re a lawyer, expect to have scales in your logo. If you’re a carpenter, expect a hammer. A perfect example of an ambiguous (and, in this case, inappropriate) logo can be found here. If the time isn’t taken to learn about who you are, there will be no you in the logo. And I tend to place that at the bottom of things I would like to have happen to me, right with being hit by a bus or set on fire.

It helps to look over the spelling of your logo before taking the spacing out.

“I could just do it myself. A professional logo isn’t important in my line of work.” This is a popular one. If professionalism isn’t a requirement in your business, then I agree – you don’t need to look professional. Considering that those industries are very limited; if your company only manufactures after-market passenger-side door handles for 1980 Monte Carlos, a logo won’t necessarily offer measureable growth. Chances are, however, that you have competition and they are looking for an advantage over your business. You should probably do the same.

The number one reason for avoiding a graphic designer to create your logo is always cost. True, it is an investment, but let’s put it into perspective. Think of the attraction that potential clients will have to that image, and the advantage you will have on your competition and their less-than-appealing image. That’s where it hits your bottom line. A professional job will make a difference that you can notice, as every successful business you can think of knows. A poorly designed logo will make a difference too, but that’s not the type of direction we want to go, is it?

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.


  • Forget design, you win the award for headline writing! Glad to know I don’t have to worry about your cat. Excellent site. Why wouldn’t someone hire you? (Not me because I’m also a graphic designer. But, heck, I might, too.)

  • cbrancheau says:

    Once again, you get us to think about a subject from just a little bit different angle. I also promise you that I will not let my brother-in-law’s plumber’s niece’s baby daddy do any logo that I need! Super post.

  • Eric Wade says:

    Interesting article. I can not argue with the points that you are making and in fact, agree whole-heartedly. However, what I didn’t see is any discussion of the very real possibility that the professional hired to design or produce the logo isn’t able to come up with something that works. As a person who has spent a considerable amount of time looking for logos and corporate identity, it is not a foregone conclusion that “hiring a professional” will get you what you need. The web is littered with examples of logos prepared by professionals that serve now as humorous “how not to” examples, such as .

  • Patrick King says:

    That’s a totally legitimate point. Hiring a professional doesn’t guarantee an excellent job. It’s very important to review the designer’s portfolio and references to make sure that you have a good fit.

  • John Saxon says:

    Uh… wouldn’t the plumbers niece baby’s daddy be the nieces boyfriend/husband?

  • Katina Loo says:

    Can hardly wait to read Part Two … You have certainly hit the nail on the head. When it comes to creating a logo that will successfully brand a business, many people would rather hire their uncle’s half sister’s cousin twice removed son-in-law who is an IT guy that happens to know ALL the graphic programs we professional designers utilize. Seriously, do you hire a gardener to repair your air conditioning? As an educated, professional designer, I have faced this frustration many times. Thanks for speaking up.

  • andrea c says:

    great post –
    is it me – was I the only one who read the sign as “kid-sex-change” rather than “kids-exchange” LOL.
    not only generic but bad thinking to run the words together. I guess bad naming overall. Hope they didn’t pay too much for that one.

  • Linda m says:

    I’ve hired 2 graphic designers on-line. They all want me to tell them what I want! I hate that. I want a creative, out of the box graphic designer who, once I give them the vision of the site, can come up with some ideas for me. Both times I’ve had to give so many specifics that all they did was use illistrator a program that I don’t know how to use. Why aren’t graphic designers creative folks?

  • Patrick King says:

    What I’m about to say may not be wildly popular, particularly with the designers you hired online, but it must be said to answer your question. The individuals you hired were software operators, or counterfeit designers. It’s really hard to tell the difference through an online engagement, but I did write another article today that may help shed some light on it. It’s located here.

    Basically, you hire a designer for their creativity and it’s something that you should start to see immediately. If they’re asking too much from you, it’s time to get skeptical. For instance, you don’t hire a plumber and then show them how you want your leaky pipe fixed, right? Same thing.

  • Bert says:

    I would add that, if you do not fill out a creative brief with your design talent, you might be looking at time, money and energy wasted by both parties. A brief filled out in tandem will insure you as a consumer, have given all aspects of the project enough thought for the designer, to do their job. I have had plenty of clients ask me to “just show me some options, you are the creative one”. I might spend more of my time and their money building what I think are good solutions, only to learn after initial comps that, either they know exactly what they wanted all along, and I didn’t provide it, or there is something I don’t truly understand about the product, service or technology that will lend greatly to the design solution. Either way it leaves the designer or client with a less than satisfied feeling. The client knows their particular business better than the designer. They need to participate in the process. As a client, you receive a far better set of “options” if you do. As a designer, a brief gives some recourse in a situation where a client radically changes the scope or parameters of a project. “ but client, in the brief you said a hammer needed to be incorporated into this graphic, now you insist it was really a pony you wanted”. If your creative service does not offer a brief, you might question the talent. Not all projects require a brief, but I wouldn’t start an ID project without one. To toss another analogy out there : ) You wouldn’t drop your car off at the shop and just tell them, “something is wrong, can you fix it?” and walk out, expecting the mechanic to solve your problem for under a hundred bucks. Right?

    Cheers : )~

  • McLaughlin says:

    I went to and got a great logo, more than one in fact. The problem with a lot of graphic designers is that they charge an arm and a leg to design what THEY want.

    My partner wanted a certain type design and we had a ‘professional’ graphic designer tell us that the idea was no good. The idea was shades of blue and green as color guidelines and the designer said that only B&W would work. What ever happened to the client being right?

    Kids Exchange and Pen Island Resorts are actually the fault of the person that created the site, not the designer. When I worked at Microsoft we did a reorganization of IT and changed the group name, only to find out that the acronym was insulting in German. That was our fault. Don’t name a group Associations Saving Santa.

  • Leah Ligotti says:

    Great Post. Seems to be a trend of companies cutting corners when it comes to purchasing a logo design. When you search the internet, you can find all different levels of quality and creativity for logo design. Professional designers seem to understand the importance of logo design, but now how do we convince the rest of the business world that a professional logo design will make a difference?

    I hope your blog post will reach the masses and influence more companies to seek out the professionals when it comes to purchasing a logo design

  • Patrick King says:

    I think that the responsibility of quantifying our profession is something that’s performed daily on its own. If a business aspires to compete, they have to get serious about their image. That includes taking on the cost.

    It’s often looked at as an avoidable cost, and many businesses will avoid it. At the same time, they refuse to realize the potential that it offers.

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