While the free T-shirt may be enticing, is designing your own logo using DIY software really a smart choice?

Just received this notice via e-mail.

“Now available – logo design software. Only $30.00! FREE T-shirt with every purchase!”

Spam notwithstanding, that does sound tres cool. But I already have what could be called “logo design software” – it’s known as Adobe Illustrator. Cost me over $500. So what’s the difference?

What it isn’t.

The advertised version of logo design software actually isn’t ‘design’ anything. At best it can be called clip-art composition software (and that’s stretching it.) The premise is that you can pull a few (badly) pre-designed ‘template logos from a library (sometimes offered as update packs,) add some text, a few special FX filters and ‘voila’ – a logo.

Ahm. Not quite.

Firstly, the templates cannot be protected by copyright, or even more importantly, trademark. Because hundreds of people are using the very same templates, you can forget about unique. And you can also say hello to reproduction hell – most of these templates are in bitmap format (especially if they feature special FX,) require four color reproduction, cannot be resized for larger applications and are impractical for most applications other than the web.

No design skill needed.

This software is also advertised as “no design skill needed.” Shouldn’t come as a surprise – there’s very little design taking place. In fact, ALL of these “do it yourself” logo design ‘solutions’ – including the web based logo creators and whiz bang generators – are nothing more than template logos with pretty packaging. And using a pre-assembled templatelogo  is NOT the way any professional should want to brand his/her company.

Alas, it seems that despite these wonderful attempts at skinning the proverbial cat in unique and wonderful ways, there’s only one way to create a logo that is worthy of representing a great new venture. That’s working with an experienced professional who has a client’s best interests in mind, as well as a pride in his/her craft. Sure, they may not promise unlimited logo revisions, a free coffee mug (it’s been done) or other three ring circus sales pitches. They will, however, produce a solid, technically sound and unique logo that you can proudly use as your brand identity. And isn’t THAT what it’s all about?

Now, where’s my free T-shirt?