15 September 2006

[logo_design] Lowering The Bar Even Farther: MMOL

I just returned from surfing the most amazing, appalling thing I've seen in a while.

It's not even Internet pr0n...

There is, of late, a site called "Make My Own Logo". It is an automated logo creation engine.

I have here, before, commented on what I find a pernicious attitude that you can economize down the creative process and still get a solid logo. The online reaction to LogoWorks catalyzed my thinking in this regard. LogoWorks, it will be recalled, is a site that promises to get you your own customized logo for a fraction of what it would cost to obtain real design talent; the way this was done was by gathering designers desperate for work and throw them on projects in somewhat the same way gamecocks compete at a cockfight, paying them a pittance in return.

It generated bad will amongst designers who had, you know, actually bothered to go out and get trained or at least mentored, to become enlightened designers who'd actually striven to get smart at this. And then there was the plagiarism (including the simple cut-and-paste copying of the Xerox logo, so help me). But I, once again digress.

Alerted by my colleague Elisabetta Bruno at this posting on Designorati here, I looked at the site calling itself MakeMyOwnLogo.com. Here was a site that actually has lowered the bar even farther than LogoWorks did. I didn't think it possible, but it happened.

DIY Logo Development

The model is, to give credit, admirably simple. Surfing the home page you'll find some logo examples and a big yellow button that proclaims a free trial. Clicking that button will take you through a short process:
  1. Input your company name, tagline (if you want), and check the industry segment as appropriate (no Graphic Design there. Coincidence? I think..oh never mind).
  2. Choose a design that speaks to you out of the grab-bag of images they come up with.
  3. Customize the font and color (if appropriate).
  4. Pay $99.
  5. Job done! Your result arrives in email presently.
The images I was given to choose from had this clip-arty feel to them, and the range of type seemed somewhat limited. I chose "Computers & Internet" and "Communications & Electronics" for my industry segments. Amongst the images paired with the word SunDial were: an abstracted Beelzebub, several national flags ghosted in the background of the word (Including Brazil and Turkey (Turkey?)), a classic car, and a fly.

Yeah, those express my mission to a T. Ai yi yi.

But wait, there's less

Now, anyone can debate with me 'til the river rises about how much work ought to go into designing a logo and what a fair price for this service is. But regardless of what anyone thinks about the actual value of a desinger's services, let's instead look at it as a different equivalency: are you getting back value for the money?

Even on my C.A. dialup connection, the whole process of winnowing MMOL's rather (in my opinion) limited offerings to something only vaguely appropriate took less than 10 minutes.

10 minutes of your time to pay $99 for something that thousands of other people could get in a flash, pretty much probably at the same time you are? Doesn't seem an even trade to me.

And when I got to the finish line, where was the free trial? Or was the design process the free trial?

If LogoWorks is like going to the supermarket to get something mass produced but still somehow just for you, this outfit is like going to the convenience store: limited selection, high prices, low quality. There's a bunch of huffing and puffing about the product I could do, but to me it's enough to know that they are making you pay to do what you could do for free with a book of clipart and some low-cost graphics program.

It's bad...and not in the good way.

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2 comments:

Heidi said...

They get $99 for that?

As you say, a low-budget do-it-yourself logo so very hard to come up with given a few basic tools. A scanner helps give a wider range of as-is imagery. Still, logos are actually very difficult to design.

I'm one who thinks it is well worth a bit of investment to get a high quality, unique logo from someone who really knows what they are doing.

If it is delivered in different formats and sizes, it may be one of the best investments a new business or independent can make. You can use it on letterhead, cards, websites, in ads, emails.

I'm guessing that the people being roping in by this just really don't have any idea about what to do or who to have do it. Where would newbie ebay page guy selling ostrich feathers go to look to find a good designer for his small business logo? He doesn't know. He sees an ad. Oh! I'll just go to this site. That wasn't so bad. And then, eventually, he finds out from other people that the logo looks bad or actually infringes on someone's tradmark or something like that...

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Yup, Heidi. $99.

I'm one who thinks it is well worth a bit of investment to get a high quality, unique logo from someone who really knows what they are doing.

That's an elegant way to phrase it.

Truly, engaging a trained graphic designer with at least some knowledge of accepted best practices is more of an investment than a cost. You're paying for someone with a keen awareness of design issues that most people simply take for granted.

The most able designer will cover all the bases, technically speaking: properly built files, conceptual issues researched and dealt with knowing; this is the sort of ground work that will make for a design with legs and shelf life, and won't seem dated or, even worse, overly derivative.

That's what you pay for when you pay a pro.

If it is delivered in different formats and sizes, it may be one of the best investments a new business or independent can make. You can use it on letterhead, cards, websites, in ads, emails.

Excellent point! Graphics get used in so many venues that it's important that the client get as many usuable versions as possible. Different sizes for different applications, and different formats: JPGs or GIFs for low-rez and online use, PNGs for hi-rez and varying size online use and layout, high-rez TIFFs for layout and printing, and vector versions (Illustrator files or EPSs) that scale up and scale down and stay sharp.

MMOL at least understands you'll need a variety of sizes and rezzes, but they supply not even a palmful of what the client might need.

And then, eventually, he finds out from other people that the logo looks bad or actually infringes on someone's tradmark or something like that...

Good call there. I typically get hung up on the artistic aspect of sameness, but there could be a case made for copyright infringement–and a lot of it, too, because a lot of people might see it as advantageous to get one of these cookie-cutter designs, and some of these people might not understand that others will be getting very similar designs.

That's another thing that employing a pro gets you–awareness of copyright issues.

Thanks for stopping by–and thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Feel free to come by again!