It’s a new day and you’re ready to launch your business. You’ve developed a solid plan and you’re ready to dive into the development of a new logo for your company. You call a business meeting and discuss it among yourselves. You’re on the cusp of making the decision to hire the “Greatest Design Firm Ever” when your business partner says, “There’s so much clip art on the web. Why can’t we just use something like that? Plus, all the stuff on the web’s free, right?”
You’re tempted. It would save the company some money and a clip art logo will be good enough, right? Unfortunately, if you chose that path, you’d be wrong on both counts. If you look at the idea of using clip art for a logo objectively, you might find that it could cost you more than money. Even if you only use it during the startup phase, you could lose brand equity, which could be costly to your entire business.
Clip art logos, or how to sabotage your identity
Logo design is an art form. It is the identity of your company distilled into an elegant mark that tells a story in one glance. It is a mark that comes to mind whenever your company name is mentioned. Think of IBM, Apple and Nike and you can immediately see their logo in your mind’s eye. Is it wise to create this mark with generic clip art culled from the web?
The development of your logo should be taken seriously. It is not a mark that should be thrown together with unoriginal graphics. It is a mark that should be created with insight into what your business means. It should be created to provide something that is easily recognizable and memorable. Logo design is not a simple process. Its foundation is based upon the research and understanding of your company. These two elements are then combined with the designer’s understanding of form and function, the impact of negative and positive space and the power of abstraction. When a designer brings these elements together, the result should be extraordinary.
But clip art is FREE!
First of all, not all clip art is free. There is also the misconception that if an image is on the web, it’s public domain or free for use by anyone. This simply isn’t true. There are almost always copyright issues associated with clip art and images from the web.
In many cases, clip art, whether paid for or free, is available for use by anyone and everyone. Clip art provides a cookie cutter solution for a design. Consider the following scenario:
- You’ve purchased a piece of clip art from a popular clip art website.
- You use it for your logo and everyone is happy that you’ve saved the company some cash.
- A week later, you do an online search to see if you have any competitors.
- You scroll through the results and click on a page. You can’t believe your eyes. They’ve stolen your logo!
- But wait. They didn’t steal your logo. They simply went to a clip art website and found an image that they thought represented their company. It just so happens that they chose the same one that you did too.
These examples are just a few of the issues you could run into if you decide to use clip art for your logo design. Ultimately, any of these scenarios could completely devastate your business. So, if you think it’s cheaper to use clip art, you may want to reconsider.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.