I'm firmly in the 'no' camp when it comes to pre-made and template logos. I know that many designers create and sell them along with their bespoke branding designs, and some find it a really great way to make money. It works for them and that is totally fine, we're all in business to pay the bills at the end of the day.
Personally however, I find it really goes against the grain and actually defeats the object of having a logo and visual brand in the first place. #sorrynotsorry
I know it's easy for me to say this as a designer, I am lucky that this part of setting up my own business was the easiest part. There's so much to think about and if you're not a graphic designer there will probably be a million and one things that seem infinitely easier and more important than having a bespoke logo designed.
So let's start from the beginning, I'll walk you through what a pre-made logo is, when it might be ok to use one, and when it's the right time to hire a designer.
What is a pre-made or template logo?
A pre-made or template logo is exactly what it says on the tin. Some designers will create a bunch of pretty logo designs without ever having a specific business in mind and sell them on their website or Etsy shop as templates. You can often download the design and edit it yourself to include your own business name, or the designer will edit it for you and send you the finished design.
Some designers who provide bespoke branding packages will often create a few designs for their clients to choose from, any design that's not chosen they might (with permission from the client) sell on as a template for someone else to use.
Why it's ok as a short term option
Sounds pretty good? It can seem like the answer to your prayers when you're setting up a business and you have no time to do it yourself or no idea how to create a logo. Maybe your budget is tight and this seems like a cost effective and pretty professional looking option.
All those things are true, there is definitely a time and a place for a template logo. If you want to get set up quickly this can be a really fast way to get yourself looking like you mean business. I would also be the first one to tell you to get your priorities right, think about what is going to help you start making money, maybe you need materials or equipment first and foremost? Whatever is going to enable you to do your very best work, spend money on that first.
Another point to make is that your business could change drastically in your first year. My own business did. Lemon & Birch started off as an illustration business, creating personalised prints and selling them on Etsy and at craft fairs. My business pivoted when I was asked if I could create a logo for a local business and I realised this was where my passion lay. I still loved the name I had picked so I added 'Creative' onto the end so it was more clear that I was a creative studio, and I tweaked my logo and branding into a slightly more polished feel to suit the new direction I was heading in.
I couldn't have imagined when I first set up that a couple of years later I would be focussing solely on branding design, and you might be surprised where your own business journey takes you, so don't fret too much if you're worried initially about hiring a designer for your branding. You may be a lot more clear on where exactly your business is heading in a years time.
Why it shouldn't be a long term option
If you've been in business for a year or more you'll have a much better idea about what you want your business to be and who exactly it is that you want to serve. A bespoke visual brand can help you get that vision across to your ideal clients and it'll help you to stand out in your niche.
Think about it, your business is as unique as you are. Even if someone sells a similar service or product, there is always going to be something slightly different about the way you do what you do.
Pre-made logos are usually chosen based on your own preferences, if you're not a branding designer you're bound to choose something that you respond to and that you like. And that's ok when you're a fledgling business.
In contrast, bespoke branding is tailored to your business. There is an in-depth research process involved before anything is designed. My clients fill in a brand discovery workbook which helps to bring brand clarity, the intention being to understand what sets their business apart from others, what their goals are, and who it is that they serve.
A visual branding system is then crafted taking everything into account, not just what the business owner likes, and it involves much more than a single logo. Alternate logos, icons, typography, patterns, and a colour palette are carefully designed and applied to stationery, your website, and social media channels in a way that will appeal to your ideal clients as well as grow with you as your business becomes more established.
Why I don't create pre-made logos
I use the one-concept approach in my branding projects. Because of the thorough research phase I go through at the beginning, I have a wealth of knowledge to inform the decisions I make about my designs. For me, there is only one solution I can come to from all the research and information I'm given. I present one concept to my clients but include examples of how their branding will look in action, on a business card design, on a website header, or as a watermark on a photo. Giving some context to the designs helps the business owner to understand how everything will look in the real world.
Because my branding process is so personalised and I only draw up one concept per client, I don't have logo designs that are spare that I could sell as templates. The whole joy in designing logos and branding for me is creating something that is so tailored and unique. I simply wouldn't enjoy whipping up a whole bunch of logos to list on Etsy.
Tips for choosing pre-made logos in the short-term
Define Your Brand and your Ideal clients or customers - Before searching for a logo put some work into defining what you want your brand to be. Take a look at my previous post here and my Pinterest board with tonnes of resources to help you work through this. Think about who your products are for or who exactly you want to work with. What is their biggest problem that you can solve? What do you want your customers to 'feel' when they interact with your business? Think of those emotions and how you can convey them in colour and image or photography styles.
Gather Inspiration - Create a Pinterest board or offline mood board and gather together colours, typography, photography, and logo styles that fit in with the work you've done in the previous step. Can you find any examples of what your ideal client or customer looks like or how they dress? Pin it! When you start to think of your business as being a magnet for people you can start to understand how to attract those people. Super simple example, if you want to work with quirky, creative women it might make sense to use a mix of bright colours and unique patterns.
Look for Quality - If you’re searching on Etsy, look for shops that are a little more expensive and have less of a choice. Quality over quantity is the key, and if the designs are slightly more expensive than others they're likely to have been sold less times. You could also look for designers who sell directly from their website, some will offer a full branding suite which includes a colour palette, alternative versions, and sometimes patterns and icons.
Create a Deadline - Try and put a set deadline on using your pre-made logo so you don't end up keeping it forever.
It's totally ok to use a pre-made or template logo in the short-term, but your business deserves to be illustrated authentically and seen for what makes it truly unique, and only a bespoke brand can offer you that. If you're interested in working with a designer have a peek at my branding packages here, or email me, I'd love to hear about your business.