The other day, I had a meeting with a potential client looking for a logo for her new business. She asked to see my catalog. Completely confused, I thought she meant my portfolio book of past work. Unfortunately, she meant an actual catalog of template logos for her to choose from and have me personalize for her. I don’t really have a catalog like that since, as a graphic designer, I’ve always done everything from scratch. I’m in Orange County, CA and I’ve seen this a lot! There is this misunderstanding that graphic design is a catalog of premade items to customize. I want to briefly talk about what a template is and what some of the drawbacks are for using them for your logo.
What is a Template?
According to the dictionary a template is anything that serves as a pattern or model.
In graphic design, this usually means a pre-made design that can be personalized in any way the client wants. Pre-made or templated designs can range from invitations, marketing materials like business cards, brochures, and even logos.
What does a graphic designer actually do?
Okay, so this is a very simple answer to a complicated question.“Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports.” This info comes from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Put into much simpler words, graphic designers are artists who use images, drawings and photos to help other people communicate what they do or what they want with their audience. Graphic Design is where art and sales combine. We custom make items, like logos, that help you communicate better with your customers and we do that one at time based on who your business is, what it sells, and to whomever your customers are. What you are actually buying is creativity and the designers knowledge of sales, marketing, art and their process for getting that information into pictures and words that work for your business — not a logo or brochure or whatever you asked them to make for you. That’s just the end product.
Okay so Templates are Pre-Made and Graphic Design is Custom Made? Why does it matter?
Here’s why it matters,
1 – Templates aren’t original and that can cost you money
Unless the template is made specificially for your business, you will look like everyone else. In sales is that being unique is something you want to do, you want to show off what you can do and who you know. Templates don’t let you stand out like that. What’s worse with a templated logo, you and six other similar businesses can all have variations of the same identfying image.The worst thing that can happen is for a business to get confused with its competitors. Confusion often leads to lost sales for some of the businesses and it could be yours that gets lost in the shuffle!
2 – A template logo is not elligible for legal U.S. copyright
Copyright is based on unique expression of ideas. Logos that come from a template site aren’t unique to any one business. If a business decides to copyright the logo they are using, they will most likely be told copyrighting it isn’t an option. That’s not a good thing if you want to protect your image, your logo and your hard earned reputation. It can also squash your big plans because with out the extra protection of a copyright, there are certain things you might not be able to do.
3 – You Don’t Own Your Logo!
Part of the reason copyrights for template logos aren’t an option is that it’s not unique and also because the logo is not owned by the business using it! It’s licensed or rented to the business using it by who ever holds the agreement – usually the original designer or the template service. This also means the business owner is limited in what they can do with the logo. If they break the licensing agreement, even accidentally, they could end up being in some legal trouble. If you’ve already got a templated logo or are thinking of getting one, make sure you read your licensing agreements completely to find out what you can and cannot do with your templated logo. If you don’t understand your agreement ask an attorney or a paralegal you trust for help. It’s absolutely worth it to understand what you’ve signed.
If you’re ready to make an investment in your business and you have big plans for it, do yourself a huge favor and get a logo from a local graphic designer. I promise you won’t be sorry that you that invested in your own success.
(and in case your curious, yes I do create logos for businesses and even special events! if you’d like to invest in me to help you get to your goals with a unique stand out in the crowd custom logo you actually own, I’d love to help you out!)