How to spot a cheap logo design and improve it

Whether you know it or not, consumers are able to tell the difference between a good and bad logo. And having a cheap logo design not only reflects badly on your skills as a designer, but on the brand it was created for. Your logo tells consumers what your brand represents, and you don’t want to come across as cheap or unprofessional. 

When it comes to branding, it’s always best to seek the expertise of a professional graphic designer. With so many people claiming to offer professional logo design at cheap prices, how can you spot a bad logo design?

To learn how to identify these bad designs, Inkbot Design has provided a list of telling signs of a cheap logo.

It’s too complicated

The most memorable logos are the simplest logos; such as McDonald’s golden arches and Apple’s bitten apple. Companies are starting to take note and have been simplifying their logos so that their brands gain better customer retention. When printed in small sizes, a complex design will lose detail and in some cases will look like a smudge or, worse, a mistake. The more detail a logo has, the more information the viewer has to process.

This logo design from Shell displays simplicity, without appearing bland.

Shell logo design

It lacks versatility

A logo should still be identifiable even when printed in black and white. A quality logo should be able to be:

  • Printed in a single colour or in black and white.
  • Able to retained its message, even if it’s shrunk down to no icon size.
  • Not look too bland or boring if it were blown up to the size of a billboard.

This logo of City of Melbourne is highly adaptable yet recognizable.

It’s uninspired

Trends come and go and ultimately turn into cliches. A well-designed logo should be timeless, and this can be achieved by ignoring the latest design gimmicks. The biggest cliche in cheap logo design is the dreaded “corporate swoosh,” which is the ultimate way to play it safe. As a logo designer, your job is to create a unique identity for your client, so completely ignoring logo design trends is best.

A good example is the BMW logo. It hasn’t changed much over the years, just refreshed itself to stay updated.

BMW logo evolution

It’s forgettable

The best logo designs in the world communicate an entire brand in one single glance. A strong visual metaphor has impact and clarity, which enhances memorability. The old Yahoo! and Ebay logos were fun, bouncy and exciting; the new ones are boring sans-serif, corporate-safe and forgettable. So, if your logo design looks like every other businesses’ branding, you’re not communicating your unique value proposition.

The Nike logo is a simple design, used so well by the brand that it became immediately recognizable by the public. In fact, it’s now a near synonym with the brand messaging, which is athletics and energy.

Nike logo design

Poor choice of colours

Choosing colours for your brand shouldn’t be about picking your favourite, but rather what you want your logo to say about your company. Therefore, professional logo design always considers colour theory, which is the science of how humans perceive various shades.

  • Red: Importance, danger, anger and passion
  • Orange: Energy, health, and vitality
  • Yellow: Energy, hope, and cowardice
  • Green: Abundance, growth, money, and new beginnings
  • Blue: Responsibility, calmness, sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, imagination, and royalty
  • Black: Power, elegance, mystery, and formality
  • White: Purity and cleanliness
The importance of colour

It doesn’t fit the brand

Colour theory isn’t the only factor to consider when making sure you don’t design a cheap logo. Many experts believe there are 6 principles that affect how a design is perceived by a consumer. These principles are:

  1. Balance provides stability and structure to a design.
  2. Proximity doesn’t mean that elements have to be placed together, it means they should be visually connected in someway.
  3. Alignment allows us to create order and organization.
  4. Repetition strengthens a design by tying together individual elements. It helps to create association and consistency.
  5. Contrast allows us to emphasize or highlight key elements in your design.
  6. Space refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within elements. Both positive and negative space are important factors to be considered in every design.

When all of these fundamental principles work together, with the help of colour and typography, they communicate a message. If one factor is ignored, your message will be obscured by poor design.

Gap’s new logo design only lasted for four days before they reverted back to the previous design.

Gap logo redesign lasted a day

Therefore, knowing the reasons why some logos look cheap and others professional is a critical tool for you marketing success. Remember your logo is not about you or the designer who is creating it. It’s about solving a problem for your business. If you’re looking to design a logo for yourself, check out 6 steps to creating a captivating personal logo.


  1. Smith

    Nice information for a new blogger…it is really helpful

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