Why can’t I just buy a $10 template online and call it good?
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."
If you're just hoping into the Design Transparency Series, check out the intro post here! My goal with this blog post series is to equip, empower and add a little more transparency to the mystery of working with a designer by answering popular questions that you have about the design process and hiring and working with a designer.
Welcome to the question in the Design Transparency series about cheap online template logos. We are only talking about logos in this post. There are many quality sites that offer template business cards, brochures and printed pieces that are well designed and customizable. We aren't talking about those sites. We are only talking about online websites that have thousands of logo templates that you can buy for $10-15, type your name in and call it good.
I've been a freelance designer (at times as a side hustle and as a full time career) for seven years now and unfortunately for quality designers this question will forever be the headache of our industry and one that we will continue to have to explain to potential clients.
If you missed my post about the value that designers bring to the table, definitely go read that post before continuing on. This post builds on already knowing what a designer can bring to the table, but below, I will touch on things that you are losing when not hiring a designer.
Let's start answering this question with an example situation:
Say you are starting a photography business. You have put the work in. You've taken courses upon courses to learn all about aperture, shutter speed, how to pose models, how to take the perfect portrait, how to take pictures of wiggly babies and tail-wagging dogs. You have taken pictures of every friend and family member that you can get in front of your camera to have some real-life practice and you are ready to launch your little dream into the world!
You realize that you need a logo for your business. You think about hiring a designer, but you think of the time it could take and your budget, so you go online and find an easy and convenient logo template for $10. You think, Great! I can get up and running tomorrow and I have a "pretty" and cheap logo that looks good, and an added bonus, it's in my favorite color!
So you start marketing yourself. You create an instagram account and a facebook page, you order stamps, get business cards printed and you make a custom pricing guide for your potential couples and families.
Then you are scrolling through instagram one day and to your horror you see another photographer with your EXACT SAME LOGO! Que the panic attack. It just so happens that this photographer thought the same thing you did, went online and bought an easy and convenient logo template for $10 and started marketing her business with it.
Now you’ve both put in hundreds of dollars, not to mention time and effort to start building your business around a logo that you thought was going to be so easy…..but it’s not easy anymore, is it?
This is just one of the many predicaments you can find yourself in when using an online template logo as your legit business logo.
"You risk blending in with everyone else, or heaven forbid having the exact same logo as someone else"
Online template logos end up being so general that any business can use them. You lose any personality, uniqueness and customization that you could have had partnering with a professional designer, and you risk blending in with everyone else, or heaven forbid having the exact same logo as someone else.
That is the trick with online templates. Once you purchase it, even if you purchase exclusive rights to it, it will remain available for the next person to come and grab also, so it's never 100% yours.
Now I get it, sometimes you just don't have the budget to hire a designer, and that is understandable.
If you have already gone down the online template route, my recommendation is to only use it TEMPORARILY. Once you get your first big purchase or client, take that money and find a designer in your budget who will help you create something original to you. It's going to be very hard to near impossible to build a brand around a weak and generalized logo.
"It's going to be very hard to near impossible to build a brand around a weak and generalized logo."
Here are the top risks when using an online template logo and what you need to look out for:
- You risk having the exact same logo as the next person - even with exclusive rights being purchased, the template will remain up for grabs
- You run the risk of not being able to price yourself where you want to be, because if your logo looks cheap, people will think your prices are cheap
- You risk blending in with every other business out there, especially if you pick a style that's currently really trendy
- You are building a client base around a template that anyone can grab.
- You will need to rebrand eventually, and that can always cause frustration and confusion, if it's not done right
- You lose any originality or personality that a designer will bring to the table
- Your brand may end up reaching the wrong client base or confuse potential clients
- It will end up being a struggle to build a brand around it
- You risk your logo quickly going out of style and having to "rebrand" sooner than expected (within months or the first year)
- You run the risk of purchasing a copied logo, which could turn into a nightmare of trademark laws
Here is what a designer could bring to the table:
- They will walk through strategy and help you get clear on your brand before aesthetics are even mentioned
- They will bring their experience and expertise to your project by helping ask the right questions and guide you through the process
- They have the best wishes for you and your brand and put their time and effort into creating something solely for you
- They will guide you away from popular trends and more towards custom visuals that will withstand the test of time
- They will always have your goals and your why in mind when designing for your project
- You are not only going to get visuals that are beautiful, but that are custom-made, functional, and will work for your business
- You will be equipped with the tools you need to market yourself, reach your customers, and build your business
- You will have success with immediately reaching your target market
- You will have a go-to person and trusted partner for when your business grows, or you launch something new
Just like the quote from Warren Buffet: "Price is what you pay, value is what you get." The more money, time and effort you put into something, the more return on your investment and the more valuable it ends up being to you. That is just like your logo design. Even though the timeline seems long, or the money seems like a lot, you will be getting more than 10x the value if you use a professional designer over an online template logo.
Now I understand that one of the reasons that business owners gravitate towards the cheaper template logos is because of money, timeline and because they have no idea goes into the design process to create the pretty logos you see (hint: it's a lot!!). Well, stick around in this series, because I'll be talking about all three of these subjects, so that you can have expectations going in, knowledge about how you should plan your next project or business launch, and how to find the designer of your dreams (that sounded like a commercial for the Bachelor)