The brands that need logos the most are the ones who can’t afford high-end design agencies. Young startups and SMBs benefit most from the brand recognition and awareness that come with well-designed logos, but unfortunately they have the smallest budgets for professional designs. On the bright side, all that is changing in recent years with a new workaround: paid and free logo makers.
Nowadays, companies on a strict budget can use an online logo creator or logo creator software to make their logos themselves. Sure it involves a little knowledge of logo design, but you can pick up some pointers rather easily by browsing logo design blogs like ours. You can even avoid logo design altogether by choosing an automated service: just type your company name and answer some questions about your industry, and a logo generator will create a working logo for you in seconds.
Logos makers appeal to small businesses because they’re just a fraction of the cost of design agencies... but why not just use a free logo maker that costs nothing? There are quite a few free logo makers to choose from, so why bother paying anything at all?
As we explain below, free logo makers aren’t always “free,” and you tend to get what you pay for. In this article, we compare free logo makers against paid logo makers to see what the differences are and which one you should choose.
Free Logo Makers: Pros and Cons
When people talk about free logo makers, they’re referring to design software, often online, that lets you edit graphics to create logo designs. More than just open-ended design software, free logo makers often provide support for first-timers. For example, most free logo makers come with templates — users who have never designed before can choose a preexisting template and modify certain aspects to make it their own.
This user-friendly approach doubly appeals to small businesses; those who have limited design budgets often have little experience in designing themselves. Furthermore, this DIY approach is perfect for people who wear many hats — in a company of one, you have to be your own logo designer!
Clearly, the biggest advantage of free logo makers is the “free” part. Literally anyone can build a logo for themselves without a dime to their name. Companies on shoe-string budgets can still get their feet wet and reinvest their logo design budget elsewhere.
Often, free logo makers work great as a stepping stone. Companies can create a “starter” logo for free, and then once they gain some traction and pad out their budget a little, they can afford to spend money on a better, more professional logo.
You can create a working logo quickly
Free logo makers let you create logos almost instantly. The entire process is set up to be as fast and painless as possible; they’re made for people who value convenience and speed. You can choose how much of the template you want to customize and, if you’re not picky, you can design a working logo in minutes — even faster if you use an automatic logo generator.
Templates make logo design easier
Free logo makers almost always involve templates, so you never have to design from scratch (unless you want to). For people with little or no logo design experience, this is immensely helpful, opening the gates to an entire community of people who couldn’t design otherwise.
Moreover, if you use an automatic logo generator, you don’t have to do anything at all. Automatic logo generators are the bare minimum of effort, for people who don’t want to bother with logo design at all. You essentially just fill in a small questionnaire and the logo creator algorithm will generate a ready-made logo for you.
You don’t own the copyright
Free logo makers can’t go around giving away the license to their own images for free. They’d go bankrupt. To acquire a copyright to a logo design you’ve created, you have to pay money. And if you don’t own the copyright, that means anyone else can use the same exact logo design without penalty. That leads to plenty of problems with originality and copycats, as we explain below.
Free logo makers have less design features than paid logo makers. If you’re using a free logo maker, your customization options will be severely limited, and the templates offered by free logo makers are far fewer than those on paid logo makers.
What this amounts to, in the end, is that your logo will probably have a generic look. You’re stuck with whatever stock imagery the editor provides, and chances are you won’t be able to add too much of your own ideas.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, they say. While some free logo makers really are free as advertised, others are much trickier.
You may end up spending hours designing your pixel-perfect logo only to discover you have to pay to download it. Or maybe they claim to be free, but all the good templates or customization options are locked behind a paywall. Sometimes they’ll deliver the free logo design as promised, but the logo maker’s name is watermarked over it. Always research beforehand to see just how free a free logo maker really is.
Limited file formats
Free logo makers usually only have one or two options for downloading the finished version. If that file format isn’t your preferred choice, you may run into problems when trying to use your new logo in print, social media, or even uploading it to your website.
Because you don’t own the copyright, another company could use your exact same logo design and you wouldn’t be able to stop them. Logo design, and branding in general, revolve around standing out — your customers should be able to recognize your brand among your competitors. Having a logo that’s the same as everyone else's is counter-intuitive to branding.
Paid Logo Makers: Pros and Cons
Your other alternative is paid logo makers, a solid middle-ground between expensive design agencies and free logo makers. Paid logo makers have a lot in common with free logo makers: both are user-friendly, both are aimed at beginner designers, both often use templates to assist new designers, and both put design control in the hands of the user.
The biggest difference, though, is that paid logos makers offer additional features and options at a cost. If your goal is to spend as little as possible designing a logo, they won’t help you; however, if you find free logo makers too constrictive, you can pay just a small amount for the benefits you need — including ownership of your copyright so no one else can use your logo design.
Full customization and originality
Paid logo makers give you more control than free logo makers, including more editing features and design options. When you’re a paying customer, you’re entitled to a full suite of editing options. With paid logo makers you get a lot of advanced effects you won’t find on free logo makers, like editing template images or changing certain colors but not others. If you’d like to try your hand at logo design and develop that skill for yourself, paid logo makers give you the room to grow.
Just as fast and easy as free logo makers
Two of the biggest advantages of free logo makers are the same advantages of most paid logo makers: they’re both fast and they’re both user-friendly. The entire logo maker market is aimed at SMBs and people who don’t know much about design; experienced designers would just use their thousand-dollar design equipment like Photoshop instead of cheaper online versions that specialize in logo design alone.
Paid logo makers tend to offer better quality templates and stock images, if for no other reason than to justify the cost. While free logo makers might feel restrictive in what you can do, paid logo makers have more options and more paths to take. Aside from better templates, the more customization options mean you can edit the same template in many more ways — opening up exponentially more potential logo designs for you to choose from.
More deliverables and file formats
While free logo makers offer maybe one or two standard file formats, paid logo makers have plenty of options. Not only can you download your logo in different formats like JPG, PNG, or PDF, but also you sometimes have the options for specific file sizes. For example, if you want to design a logo banner for your company’s Twitter profile, you may have the option to automatically resize the logo in a social media package.
Buy the copyright
Above all, the biggest advantage of paid logo makers is that you can own your copyright yourself. This means that no one else can use your logo design except you, under penalty of legal action. It’s the only way to guarantee that your logo is yours and yours alone.
All the time you spend designing and customizing your logo to make it just right won’t go to waste. Even if you’re designing from a template, buying the copyright gives you ownership of your version of the template — usually when you buy a logo on a paid logo maker, they take down the template you used so that no one else can use it in the future.
Not free. Of course, the glaringly obvious drawback to paid logo makers is the price — even the cheapest paid logo maker is still more expensive than a free logo maker. However, it’s not like the money you pay is wasted: as we explained above, you’re often paying for more features, better quality templates, more convenient file formats, and most importantly the copyright.
The difference between free logo makers and paid logo makers boils down to this: free logo makers can only do so much, but if you want all the advantages of a logo creator, you’re going to have to pay something. What you’re getting with paid logo makers is a more complete product. It’s almost like free logo makers are a trial version of what paid logo makers offer for a fee.
Free logo makers are best for when you’re starting a company with nothing. They work great if you need a placeholder logo for a few months while you get your business off the ground, but a generic logo design from a free logo maker can only get you so far.
If you’re serious about your business, you’ll need to buy the copyright to your logo at one point or another. A successful company cannot allow anyone with internet access to steal their logo and use it themselves. As we said above, one of the main goals of branding is standing out, and sooner or later that requires legally preventing others from copying you.
Of course, the price tag on free logo makers is quite alluring. Luckily, if you don’t have much to spend but still want copyright ownership and the breadth of customization tools, you can use a inexpensive logo maker. That’s the best of both worlds — you get your extra features and copyright ownership, but still pay significantly less than other paid logo makers.
Our own Logogenie fits into this category. Our lowest plan lets you use our custom online logo maker to create and customize a logo as you see fit, with our full suit of templates, for just $24.90. If you want to own the copyright, you can buy exclusive rights to your logo and we’ll remove the template from our site. Why not give it a try for free to see if you like it — just click here!