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Why You Shouldn’t Use an AI Logo for Your Startup

Why You Shouldn’t Use an AI Logo for Your Startup
Written by
Aaron Marco Arias
Published on
January 18, 2024

You know your startup needs a new logo. And your budget isn’t infinite. So, like most early-stage founders, you need to choose your battles carefully.

Looking for cheap (or free) logos, you may have found AI logo creators. But, is an AI-generated design what your startup needs right now? What are the potential risks of investing in an AI logo?

In this post, we’ll answer the most common questions surrounding AI logos. Finally, we’ll propose an alternative.

But first, let’s dive into how AI logo creators work.

How Do AI Logo Creators Actually Work?

We can’t explain this without covering how all generative AI operates. Generative AI creates “new” material by predicting an output from an existing database.

In the case of image generators like stable diffusion, models reverse-engineer your prompt, using the images in their training dataset.

Like all generative AI tools, image generators are incapable of producing fully original content. Instead, they mix references already existing in their training set, to figure out an image, guided by your prompt.

Beyond pitches and hype, the way that AI generators produce images is quite fascinating. If you’re interested in a technical explanation, this video by Computerphile may be the best place to get it:

But, is this technical wonder a fitting replacement for an experienced graphic designer?

Let’s see.

How Effective Is Logo Design Using an AI Logo Maker?

Generative AI tools don’t have the cultural understanding or creative criteria that a designer can bring to the table. So, the outputs of an AI logo design tool aren’t that great.

We tested two of the most popular AI logo designers out there. We gave two prompts to each. First, we produced logo sets for a project management startup named “Projekto”.

One of the generators asked questions about the color palette and gave us some design examples to pick from, so we could select the “style” we were going for.

The results were underwhelming at best, ranking from generic to unusable:

AI-generated logo examples for PM tool

Some of these options are very similar to existing logos from popular brands. Others are out of proportion. And there’s a third category: Logos that aren’t technically “wrong”, but that lack any sort of soul or lasting power.

We tried with another logo generator. This option allowed us to choose between different pre-made icons:

AI generated logo process

The results were pretty generic too. But, in this option’s favor, we could say that they weren’t technically questionable. All of these logos are relatively scalable.

AI-generated logo examples

The main issue we had with this tool was that the pre-made icons made any result generic by default. These aren’t memorable logos. And, let’s say a customer sees the same icon on both your logo and a competitor’s - how would that reflect on your brand?

But maybe the project management brand was too abstract, so we tried with a simpler prompt. We asked for logos for a yoga studio called “DharmaYoga”.

The results were underwhelming too:

AI-generated logos for a yoga studio

Mm, that doesn’t look very nice. Let’s try with our other AI logo tool:

AI-generated yoga logo examples

It felt like these tools were just combining random shapes, fonts, and colors, with no real criteria. And, spoiler alert: That’s pretty much what they were doing.

An AI logo creator may be okay to get some general ideas if you’re not a designer. And it may be more than enough for a small business or a small-scale personal venture.

But if you’re launching a tech startup that aims to compete with giants, on a global scale, these logos won’t cut it. They’ll probably:

  • Cause branding consistency problems, due to being unscalable
  • Make your brand look low-effort and unreliable

Additionally, using an AI logo may have some unforeseen legal implications. Let’s explore them.

Can You Legally Use an AI-Made Logo Creator?

In 2023, a man tried to register the copyright of an image produced by “The Creativity Machine” a software tool of his authorship. The Copyright Office denied his application, claiming that the work lacked human authorship. So, although he was the owner of the machine, he couldn’t claim to own the machine’s output. Consequently, the man sued the Copyright Office and one of its representatives.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Copyright Office, claiming that “defendants are correct that human authorship is an essential part of a valid copyright claim”.

Consequently, an AI logo is not trademarkable - in fact, no one can own the copyright to an AI-generated image.

Yes, you can use your AI-generated logo, but so can anybody else. That means that your brand’s most recognizable asset will be up for grabs.

Will AI Logo Designers Replace Human Logo Designers?

Generic outputs and legal gray areas are two of the main reasons why AI logo designers are very unlikely to replace human logo designers.

Human logo designers can analyze cultural trends, understand your customer’s tastes, and build a system of symbols that truly represents your brand’s DNA. AI is unable to pull that off.

AI logos may be a good option for personal projects, but real companies will always need designers.

Is a Perfect Logo Design Necessary for a Business?

This FAQs list was assembled based on the questions that users are asking before choosing an AI logo for their business. And this question was one of them.

A perfect logo isn’t necessary - but it can bring incredible benefits.

When combined with a carefully curated brand identity, a logo can make a brand look premium, trustworthy, or innovative. If you want to connect with a demanding target audience or move up-market, a good logo will be essential.

Additionally, your logo is a key asset for building brand awareness, as it’s your brand’s minimum recognizable unit.

Can Artificial Intelligence Create Unique Logos?

As we saw a few paragraphs ago, AI can’t create unique logos. It simply combines shapes and fonts as provided by the company that maintains the tool. So, if you’re looking for something truly original and meaningful, this isn’t the way to go.

Would Modifying an AI-Generated Logo Make It Legal to Use?

You could use an AI-generated image as the foundation to create your own logo, and your human intervention would turn the resulting artwork into a trademarkable design. But, the legal gray area remains. It’s worth asking:

  • How much should you modify an AI logo for it to be considered an original artwork?
  • How significant should these modifications be?
  • Why not hire a designer, in the first place, instead of going through the effort of generating a low-quality logo, and then trying to cover the AI’s tracks? The results could be better, take you less time, and expose you to fewer risks.

Is $500 Too Much for a Logo Design?

When looking for the most popular FAQs around AI logo design, we found that thousands of users are looking for AI logo designers and asking about proper pricing “in the same breath”.

Graphic design prices are often a touchy subject, as clients often lack the tools or references to:

  • Assess value
  • Measure ROI

Professionally designed flash logos, made by experienced freelance designers, usually range between $200 and $1,000 - depending on what the package includes. Meanwhile, a complete, and strategically intense logo design process usually starts at $5,000.

The differences include:

In most cases, an expensive logo will represent your brand better across domains and elements. And it’ll be the result of an intense creative and strategic process. The result is a better logo, with stronger lasting power, and a better business impact.

Affordable Branding Package for Startups

Need a brand identity that allows you to hit the market fast and make a great first impression? Now you can get a full brand package (landing page included), in 30 days, for a fraction of the cost of regular logo design. Iterations & support included.

Discover our branding package for startups.

Curious? Book a 15-minute consulting session today.

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