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Article :: Why a Stock Graphic Doesn’t Work for Your Logo Design

While it’s very tempting to choose a stock graphic for your logo design, there are reasons why this won’t work for your business in many cases. Yes, the low cost is tempting but the reasons for not doing this are equally sound.

Let’s start with why a business logo is necessary. Logos build trust and identity. They designate you as a true business with something to solidify your brand in their mind. Repetition of your logo on all marketing material and social media posts will make you stand out from other similar businesses. The goal is to get you noticed and remembered by clients and prospects. So, why don’t stock graphics work well?

First, most stock graphic companies have strict regulations in their usage disclaimers. You may read about “Intellectual Property Rights” or see a statement that directly forbids the use in logos. For example, clearly states that “You must not use the Content in any logo or as part of any trademark”. has a similar statement: “You may not…use any Visual Content (in whole or in part) as a trademark, service mark, logo or other indication of origin, or as part thereof.” Clearly, it’s not advisable from a legal standpoint to violate these terms.

Second, your identity and the identity of your company is critical to your marketing success. When you choose a stock graphic from an online printer, you are choosing something that many other people probably already have. While you may never cross paths with another holder of that image in your target market, it’s highly likely that you will. At networking events in the past, I’ve shown four seemingly identical business cards. They all use the same stock image but they are for four separate companies. We are a very visual society so much of our identity comes from what people remember about us, whether it’s an image (logo) or colors. With good marketing, that’s what people will envision when thinking of us. This is why it’s critical to create our own identity through proper branding. That means something unique and created just for you and your business.

I recently created a logo for a client who loved what I created for him but when he first approached me, he had something very specific in mind. He had found a graphic on a website and asked me to use it for his own logo. I strongly suggested he not do this and, in fact, the very same day we had this discussion, a business colleague showed me exactly the same image that he wanted to use for one of his business products. I showed my client the message I had received from my colleague along with the identical logo and he ultimately decided to have me create an original design for him.

While this may sound daunting, working with a Graphic Designer who will spend time getting to know you and your business will help with this. The conversation should discuss you personally, your business focus, colors you prefer and any ideas you want integrated into the logo. Be prepared for this to be a collaborative experience as the designer should discuss designs that look good at both small and large sizes and why some colors reproduce better than others (and why certain colors have very different meanings from what you might think).

The cost of creating an original logo varies greatly depending on the complexity of the logo and the time it takes to produce your perfect logo. Meet with the designer, have a conversation and see if the fit is right. The reasons for an original logo far exceed the reasons for choosing something that is already taken or that is not legally allowed for logo design.

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