Why You Shouldn't Make Your Own Logo

I’ve had a number of clients and potential clients tell me they don’t need a logo because they’ve already have or are going to make their own. When I hear this, I just shake my head and think “Oh no, not again.” What usually happens is I’m sent a logo file that’s been created in something like Microsoft WORD or other funky program that is not and ever will be useable for a website logo on a website.

That Personal Touch

Believe me, I do understand that people like to participate in the development of their website, which is fantastic! I understand some folks have an idea in their head of what they want their logo to look like. Honestly, my purpose is not to burst your bubble or disappoint you in any way, I do understand. The problem is that these folks don’t understand what the purpose of a logo is and what it needs to be able to do. They’re also quite often usually under the wrong preconceived notion that making their own logo is going to save them hundreds or thousands of dollars. This is not usually the case and in some instances, making your own logo can cost you more money in sales or business than paying a little bit to have one created by a professional.

A Logo Brands You and Your Business

If you’re in business and you’re going to pay a professional web designer to develop your site, it’s part of the designer’s job to consult with you about what you want your logo to look like, the color(s) you’re interested in using (in your logo and for your website) and most importantly — what do you want it to say about your business? We review your business topic, research related companies and review their logos. The big questions in my mind when faced with having to deal with a homemade logo are:

  • How do I make a professional looking website built on the look of a homemade logo?
  • Why would anyone pay a web designer to create a professional website and want to display a homemade logo on it?
  • What are they thinking? How in the world does this client think that this logo suitably portrays their business?

Granted, some folks are very artistic and literally can do a beautiful job creating a logo and so I’m not talking about them. But let’s face it — this is not the norm so let’s get back to your average-Joe who suddenly thinks he’s an artist because he’s going to have a website. I’m not going to waste your time here and re-invent the wheel, instead I urge you to read this article on just how important your logo is to your business: The Importance of Logos in Business the author makes some very good points and explains them well.

A Logo Must be Elastic

Ok, that may sound a little strange but elastic is a really good word to explain that a logo must be able to do. Most of the folks who send me their homemade logos give me a finished file. Its already been exported as a .gif or .jpg file. If we need your logo to be larger than what you’ve sent, up-sizing (stretching) it will only distort it. It’s blurry, fuzzy, pixelated, hard to read and stretched out of it’s original shape.

To ask them for the original pre-exported version is 1) something they don’t understand even after it’s been explained to them in every way imaginable and 2) usually isn’t available because the program they made it in isn’t capable of producing the image in any other format other than what we’ve been given. Requiring a web designer to use your logo is quite likely going to restrict what we can do for your overall site look. Do you really want to tie our hands? If I were hiring a designer, I’d want my design options to be as open as possible.

In some cases the logo is not only going to be used on their website, but on their printed materials as well. Letterhead, envelopes, t-shirts, business cards — you name it. It may need to be sized up and down and the simple fact is that a one-size-fits-all logo just will not work. If you want to use your logo for printwork as well as on your website, it has to be in professional printer format which does not include the most common .gif and .jpg. These formats do not have the ability to stretch and be manipulated as needed.

The Logo Background Should be Transparent

For best results, the logo’s background must be transparent that way we can use it on any color background without affecting it’s quality or that of your website. If you make your logo with a white background for example, and the area where it’s going to be used has a dark colored background, you wind up with an image on a white square or rectangle plunked into a dark background which looks totally out of place and homemade.

In order to cure this problem, we either have to remove the background which can be a very time-consuming process. Getting every speck of your white background removed from the edges of your logo image is not only very tedious work, you can wind up with jagged edges. Website images are made from pixels and pixels are square. If the edges of your logo are not, it makes for a risky finished product. Are dollar signs rolling around in your head?

If someone insists on us using their logo, what we normally do then to recreate the logo for website use. This not only gets us a transparent background (and an elastic image to work with) but a clean look overall. The latter is usually a much more cost-effective way to handle this, but can still wind up costing as much or more than a fresh, clean, made from scratch by a professional.

When That Personal Touch is too Personal

Some clients want us to use the logo they created because it has special personal meaning to them. I get it, I have sentimental feelings about a number of things that are close to my heart. Nine times out of ten, the logo image that means so much to them, has absolutely nothing to do with their business. These folks are simply too close to their sentiments for the good of their business, in other words they simply can’t be objective enough to separate business from personal which can be a business branding nightmare. Once you’ve given the wrong impression about your business to people, it’s hard to turn them around to the right impression.

I’ve seen some dynamite logos created by people where the image may be perfect but they’ve used a totally wrong font for their business name or other text on the logo simply because they like the font or there is some personal attachment to it. The image and/or the font may be too big or small, there’s a balancing act that needs to come together in order for everything to work together and the font in a logo has to be easy to read for site visitors. Sometimes it’s the other way around but in any case what’s happening is that the image, the font and the topic of their business are suffering from a major clash which can totally destroy the overall look and branding of their business.

Try to Let Go and Let the Professional Do It

I understand it can be hard to do, I have a tough time with this myself sometimes — but letting go of your own sentiments is very possibly in the best interest of your business. Unless you have some real artistic talent, if you’re not a graphic designer, more often than not you need to step back, take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s ok to let go. Open your mind to other options. Even if you’ve had the same homemade logo for years, something fresh and new might be just the ticket to branding your business in a better way. You may even find you like the new version better than the old! Even if you think the entire world knows you by your existing logo doesn’t mean you can’t renew yourself and your business. You can look at it as a step forward and to showing your customers that you’re open to new things which is usually to your benefit.