Is a Premade Logo Right for My Small Business?

Branding, Small Business 101

If you’re thinking of starting a small business, or you’ve just started your small business, grab your favorite beverage and get comfy — this one’s for you!

Let me start by saying, I’ve read and heard all the views out there on the topic of premade logos — unfortunately, most of it negative. Although I can agree to an extent with some of the opinions against it, I believe that when we consider it in the larger context of the startup journey; we can see that there’s a proper place for premade logos in the small business sphere, and that it can actually give you the boost you need to get started.

So, here goes my honest take on the topic. I encourage you to read on with your own business in mind, as you are really the only one who can decide what the right fit is for your needs.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  1. My Personal Experience
  2. What Is A Premade Logo?
  3. When To Consider A Premade Logo
  4. Invest In Essentials First
  5. Gain Clarity Before Hiring A Designer
  6. How To Choose A Premade Logo For The Short-Term
  7. Why You Shouldn’t Use a Premade Logo Long-Term
 

01 | My Personal Experience

 
It’s ironic to admit that for the first two years of starting and growing Cultivate Studio, I had no website (yup! a web designer without a website) and my logo was a simple word mark I created with a free font and zero customisation.

My first three clients were family and friends of family, and most of my work after that came through word-of-mouth referrals from those first clients. I started sharing my work on Instagram, with a few scattered posts on Facebook, and never spent a cent on marketing or sponsored posts. Project inquiries kept coming in, and came in more regularly as time went on, despite the fact that I didn’t have the design aspect of my own business finalised just yet.

Is this the right start for all small businesses? No.

But am I sharing my own experience to show you that a custom brand or website isn’t needed for you to start doing and sharing the work you love? Absolutely! You don’t have to wait until everything feels perfect. You can start taking on clients and build a successful business without custom design and still communicate your professionalism.

Enter premade logos.

 

02 | What Is A Premade Logo?

 
A premade logo is essentially an affordable and ready-made logo design which you can purchase and have customised with your own business name and tagline. It can be as simple as a word mark, or it can include other graphic elements like a monogram or illustrated icon. It doesn’t normally include customisation beyond the name, tagline and color, and the design may be sold more than once to various businesses. You can use a premade logo for as long as it works for you, but it’s really meant to serve as a short-term design solution while you get clear on your long-term goals.

 

03 | When You May Want To Consider A Premade Logo

 
If you identify with more than one of the statements below, a premade logo might be the right option for you:

  • You are just starting your business
  • You are working with a strict budget
  • You want to see whether your business is even viable / sustainable
  • You are still figuring out your style of work
  • You are still honing in on who your target client is
 

04 | Invest In Essentials First

 
Most new small businesses are on a tight budget and need to prioritise spending in those first months. You need to identify what is going to enable you to actually deliver your service or product. Do you need to take a course and gain certain skills? Is there software that you need to purchase? What materials are needed to produce your product? What is essential for your business to start operating will be dependent on what you plan to offer; but custom branding isn’t essential to start delivering a good product or service.

Remember that the quality of your work and your client experience + service is what will make your business successful and sustainable in the long run.

 

05 | Gain Clarity Before Hiring A Designer

 
Gaining clarity on your target audience, offering and long-term goals can take time, and usually requires some trial and error to see what works — AKA just taking the leap and getting started. With each new client you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, what you really enjoy and what you don’t enjoy.

As you perfect your offering, you may find yourself niching down or pivoting, and with that comes a strong sense of the style of your business and your ideal client. In my opinion, this is another good reason to hold off on custom branding at the start — even if you can afford it. I’ve learned from experience that your mission, offering, values, and ideal client can evolve so much in the early stages of your business. Because custom branding revolves around all these things, it would be wise to have good grasp on them before investing in custom branding.

 

06 | How To Choose A Premade Logo For The Short-Term

 
If you’ve decided that a premade logo is the right solution for you, you can follow these tips to find the best suited design for your business:

  • Define Your Brand & Gather Inspiration
    Before starting your search for a logo, do a little research. Figure out who you’re targeting, who your competitors are, and how you want your business to be perceived. Create a Pinterest board and collect examples of logos, as well as lifestyle images that embody the style of your business. This will help you know what style to look for when searching for a logo.
  • Keep It Simple
    Simplicity is key when choosing a premade logo. By avoiding trends, illegible fonts and overly detailed illustrations, you can achieve a professional look while remaining neutral enough so your business can easily transition once the time comes to rebrand.
  • Set A Deadline
    Decide beforehand how long you’ll use your premade logo to ensure that you don’t end up using it forever. Then start preparing for custom branding – shop around for a designer with a similar style to what you envision for your business (Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start looking), inquire about their rates and start saving towards this a little every month.
 

07 | Why You Shouldn’t Use a Premade Logo Long-Term

 
There’s no shame in using a premade logo to get started, but in the long run your business deserves to be seen for what makes it truly unique and only custom branding can offer that. If you can afford custom branding after a year and have a solid grasp on where you’re taking your business, go for it! If you’re still figuring things out after a year, don’t be afraid to wait a little longer.

I recommend investing in custom branding within 1-3 years of starting your business and ideally not longer after that, because you want to avoid getting lost in the crowd or hitting a plateau. Let’s remember:

  • A premade logo isn’t unique to your business.
  • A premade logo isn’t designed to specifically reflect your unique values.
  • A premade logo is usually chosen based solely on your own preferences and not with your target client in mind, so there’s no guarantee that it will keep attracting the right audience.

 

 
It’s fair to say that a premade logo can serve your business well in the early stages. But once you are clear on your direction, offering, and target audience, that’s the time to look into working with a designer on a custom brand. So let go of the notion that things have to be ‘perfect’ and start putting your work out into the world! Rooting for you, X
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