Ever feel like you’ve seen a brand’s logo before but for somebody else? You’ve probably just seen one of those generic logos, which are boring and unoriginal and don’t do much for the business they represent. You’ve probably seen this a lot.
Logos aren’t just a picture and words. A logo is the face of a whole brand, so a logo that has been used too much or isn’t original tells potential customers that the brand itself isn’t original. Why would people want to buy from a name that feels basic in today’s crowded market? A customer may take his or her business somewhere else just because of how the brand looks. For a business that wants to attract people and stand out from the competition, an engaging logo design is the first chance to send the right message into the world.
What are generic logos?
Generic logos use design features that have been used so often that they don’t feel like they were made just for that logo. Some of these popular, overdone designs are easy to spot, like anything that resembles old Microsoft Clip Art.
But some aren’t as easy to see if you don’t know what to look for. Don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of the logo design ideas that are used too often so you can discover how to minimize them.
People Logo: V shape
The V-Man, or the easily recognizable abstract, gender-neutral figure, has been used in many different fields, from social media to businesses that focus on customer service. Even though it sounds good in theory—all customers are people, and the best customers are ones who are excited about your brand—the V-man is not unique.
The V-man sometimes comes alone and sometimes with a group. A ring is one of his favorite ways to get around.
The globe is a “tale as old as time” in the world of logos. Companies jump on the idea that they want to show that they are global, but they end up using a sign that has been used so much that it looks old.
If your line goes up and to the right, that means you did well. On the other hand, a graph logo is an idea that is so popular that it no longer makes sense. It doesn’t show what makes your business special or different.
Generic wordmark logos
A wordmark or lettermark logo can be a classy way to brand your business. But some of them have been done so often that they are hard to remember. Your business should be reflected in any logo that has your name or letters. Make sure it says you’re unique.
Generic logos by business
In addition to the ideas listed above, there are some ideas that are used too often that are only used in certain businesses. Here are some styles you should avoid if you want to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Real estate logos
Real estate is, you got it, the main center of generic real estate designs. In particular, they like roofs and shapes that look like houses or a skyline.
Have you ever searched Google Images for “the internet?” It gives back a lot of pictures of globes, lines that show connections, and other things that remind me of hacking movies from the 1990s.
Not surprisingly, tech companies use these picture ideas to describe their own businesses that don’t have a physical form. And they end up looking ordinary and hard to understand.
Accounting & finance logos
Most logos in the finance business have the company’s name in a geometric shape.
You need money, price tags, and carts to go shopping. Not surprisingly, these are also the kinds of pictures that are used in too many store names.
In the medical field, there are a few signs that everyone understands. These are great for telling what kind of business it is, and they were originally made so that you could tell if someone was a doctor or a pharmacy even if you couldn’t read. When you use something that everyone has, though, it’s hard to stand out.
Hey, what do doctors do? They make your teeth clean! What does a Generic dentist logo look like? A picture of a tooth in clipart!
Generic car logos use symbols (which are often in circles and have a lot of wings, which is odd since flying cars are still a thing of the future) and generic car shapes.
Environmentalists like trees very much. And water. and the planet. It’s not strange that these pictures are used in the most overdone logos for the environment. When you build a tree with a V-shaped base, you get extra points.
Don’t see your business type?
Try searching Google Images for your type of business + designs. Just a quick scroll down the page will show you what logo pictures your rivals use most often.
How to come up with a unique logo?
A good first step for your business is to know what not to do. But it’s also important to understand what you should do to make a logo for your brand that people will remember.
Simple but unique
A well-designed logo is one that stands out without being unnecessarily complicated. A good logo goes beyond the obvious traits that the company is attempting to convey and instead draws inspiration from those qualities themselves, rather than from simple (overused) forms.
Rethink the V-Man if providing excellent customer service is crucial to building your brand’s reputation. Could a less generic take on the humanoid form help spread the word about your stellar customer service to potential new customers instead?
Share your unique story
Just like you want your logo to stand out from the competition, it’s important to remember how your brand already does this. Keeping your brand’s goal statement or other unique information about your business in mind—and in the mind of your designer—will help keep the logo design focused on your business instead of a generic version.
For example, “I own a coffee shop” won’t get you nearly as far as “My aunt opened a coffee shop in the 1960s, and it still looks and feels like the original shop from that time.” In the second, more detailed brand story, there are more ways to add to the story.
It’s important to remember that you can make a good, unique logo with a common idea as long as you find what makes your business special and turn that into a picture. There will always be toothy dentistry logos and tree-loving environmental logos, but there are ways to give these symbols new life and show what makes your practice special.
Put it through the scroll test
If your logo is the first thing a potential customer sees about your company, it’s important that it draws them to your business instead of turning them away. Think about searching Google Images for designs in your field. How many of those would you skip over quickly? So many clip art images and so little time!
You want to make sure that people stop and think about your logo. A well-designed logo isn’t just a pretty picture; it’s also the key to getting new customers. People have a lot of choices when they go shopping, and it’s important for a business to stand out in such a busy market.
Whether you want to avoid a Generic logo, a logo that has been used too much, or logo cliches, a lot can go wrong. Don’t settle for a bad logo, no matter what!