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Designing a Logo? Learn How to Avoid Overused, Generic Logos

by Designhill Tweet - in Logo Design - 7 min read

generic logos

Last updated on November 27th, 2017

Nobody ever likes to be labelled as ‘generic’. And we are sure that you’re not a generic designer! You have your ideas and creativity. You create a logo design taking into account all the suggestions and pointers of the client and your customers. However, there are times when you create a logo and get a response from your client of something like – “Have I seen this before?” It’s not your fault. Designers have overused some generic symbols to the limit that they have become a design staple for a particular industry or n organisation. However, branding is all about originality. And a logo is the face of your brand.

A logo is the first impression of your brand. People get to know about how serious you are regarding your business just by looking at your logo design. It is essential that your logo design is unique so that it stays in the minds of the people. Think of all the top brands and you will find that you remember all their logos be it Nike, Apple or MC Donalds.

Wondering how you could create a compelling logo design for your customers? All you need to do becomes aware of some of the most generic, overdone and cliches in the market while designing a logo. But first things first. Let’s know what a generic logo means and how to design logo .

What does a generic logo mean?

Generic logos are logo designs that have symbols, shapes or elements that are common and have been used many times before. Even if the idea is original, they don’t bring any originality to the design. For instance, we are tired of seeing globes representing a brand as a global one. Let’s have a look at the most common concepts of various industries:

Common Logo Design Concepts

  1. Real Estate – The world of real estate logos are filled with designs having sloping roofs, buildings or square windows. There is no uniqueness in such logo designs. Instead, try and create something different.1. Real Estate
  2. Accounting and Finance – Logos having initials of the name of the company arranged with a geometric shape are quite common. Don’t ever use the concept shown below if you want to have the edge over other designers.2
  3. Internet, Technology and Communication – Logos for internet and technology companies have one thing in common – a globe with lines that symbolise connectivity or the wifi symbol. All these concepts are quite familiar, indeed.Technology and Communication
  4. Medical, Health and Pharmaceutical – These are the most overused and generic of all the industries, mostly due to the profession. There are certain symbols and shapes whose meanings are known universally, and therefore a designer must use them. However, using symbols such as a plus sign or a heart shape makes it hard for the designers to create something unique.4. Medical
  5. Retail – It is not necessary that you have to use a currency symbol or a cart if your designing a logo for a retail company. Retail logos with images of a girl shopping, cart and price tags are the most common ones. Avoid using these!5. Retail
  6. Automotive Industry – Most of the automotive logos use shapes of cars in their company logos. Also, you find a lot of logos with the name of the company in the middle with wings on both the sides.6. Automotive
  7. Environmental – We all know that environmentalists love trees, leaves earth and want to protect the entire world. But you don’t have to use these images every time you make a logo design related to the environment. I mean, don’t we see such logos since ages? Also, you can try and play with colours. Green is not the ‘only’ option.7. Environmental
  8. Dental – We all know dentists clean teeth! A generic dental logo has an image of a tooth, always. Search on Google for dental logos, and you ‘ll find images of tooth everywhere.dental

Common Logo Design Symbols

Apart from these industries, some logo design concepts/symbols have been used to death! Avoid using these too.

  1. The Humanoids – You will find this abstract humanoid type symbol in logos of various sectors and across social media platforms. It is versatile and flexible and can be used to represent anything from innocence, to support and strength to a celebration. Take a glance!Humanoids
  2. The Globe – The image of the globe has been used way too much. All companies from IT, technology use this image to show that they are global. However, they don’t realize that the logo they have created is an outdated one landscaping logo.Globe
  3. The Graphs – Using a graph that is pointing in the upward right direction in your logo has become common. It does not show any creativity and is no more a symbol of success.Graphs

Consequences of Using Generic Logos

  1. Gives a Negative Impact – Using overused symbols and concepts in your logo design is the biggest mistake of all and, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common amongst designers. As we discussed earlier, the aim of a logo is to represent a brand or business. If it looks same as someone else’s, it has been unsuccessful in that regard. It gives a negative impact of the designer being lazy and not that creative. It might be tempting to go for a globe image for an IT brand, but you need to be original and think out of the box!
  2. Legal Hassles – A significant consequence of using a generic logo is that you will not be able to register the logo as your trademark due to it’s similarity with other logos. Applications for trademark registrations that are too similar to existing logos are denied unless the designs are completely unrelated.
  3. Not a Good Way of Branding – Two words that cross your mind when you think of a logo is unique and appealing. However, this won’t apply to design in which you use the overused, cliched humanoids making a globe. The designers should always try and come up with original work, and there is no way that the clients don’t thank them for it.

Want To Know If Your Design Is Generic or Not?

If you want to know the images that have already been used by your competitors, all you need to do is do a Google image search for your business type + logos. You will find a lot of images (most of them having abstract symbols or universal concepts) in use by various companies. Avoid using those images. For instance, if you search for burger shop + logos, you will find most of the companies using an image of burger in their logo designs.Negative Impact

Tips for Designing Unique Logos

Now that you know what NOT TO DO while creating a logo for your customer, it’s equally important to know what YOU SHOULD be doing to design a compelling one.

  1. Keep it Simple- Simplicity is the key to success, right? A simple design of your logo makes it accessible on any device such as tablets, phones, etc. and across platforms. A simple design with a single image and a plain background is also quite appealing. You don’t have to crowd it with generic symbols and colors. For instance, look at Apple’s logo— so simple yet so elegant.keep it simple
  2. Narrate Your Story – You can share with the world the story of your brand with the design of your logo. Share with designer all the details about your company – how it was formed, how can it help to others, etc.– to create a meaningful logo rather than a generic one. Have a look at this unique tree logo by Zalo Estévez.Narrate
  3. Generate Curiosity Through Your Logo – Make sure your logo is worth watching so that people look at it for a longer time. For instance, have a look at the Lion Bird logo below. The first look shows a colourful bird with the brand name. However, when you look closer, you’ll see that a lion’s face is visible in the logo.4.3

In The End

A logo is an important part of any business. Apart from creating an identity for the company, it reflects its ideals and culture. Therefore, as designers, your aim should be to create one that is unique and memorable.
I am sure that after reading this entire article you would have understood all images which should not be included to make your logo look more productive and unique. So, brace yourself and create some beautiful logos that set you apart from others.


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Designhill is the most reliable and fastest-growing custom graphic design crowdsourcing marketplace that connects a thriving community of graphic designers from across the globe with clients looking to source high quality graphic designs such as logo designs, banner designs, packaging designs, merchandise designs, web designs and many other designing works at affordable prices. In just six months of going live, the startup has helped more than 1500 businesses source unique graphic designs and has paid out more than $70000 to its ever-growing community of 29,000+ graphic designers, logo designers, visual artists and illustrators from all over the world. Facebook | Twitter | Google+

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  • unfortunately, there are still many won design in designhill contest which are actually generic. Please designhill team to implement tough rules regarding generic design

  • Renen Mariano

    How about the fonts to use? Everybody loves ethnocentric font. lol

    • Shan Shan Pandapatan

      Kapag lettermark . Nagkalat ung ganyan . haha hahaha Sir paaccept naman ng friend request ko . Wala na yung dati kong account :3 Salamat 😀

      • Renen Mariano

        Ok na haha, active kba dito sa DH?

        • Shan Shan Pandapatan

          Kakareg ko lang sir . Ngayon ko lang nakita . busy sa DC e . haha Mas maganda ba dito ?

          • Renen Mariano

            feeling ko haha, wag mo na pagkakalat sa iba to para konti lang tayo hahaha

  • 7itbd

    Also this type of design are most generic please add this type design in designhill generic how-to-avoid-overused-generic-logos :

  • mohamad rizky

    This is quite confusing, one cause of the few submissions offered is too strict a rule, this will make someone work harder with the idea, while the client hopes to get a lot of options. While sometimes clients expect a logo that is common to the field of business, I think enough not to use clipart or icon that has been used by big brand is a policy .. this can be unfair if there is a design that passes from monitoring team designhill.sometimes clients expect to have a logo with a generic, so that their logo can be up to the customer. Thank you.
    Sorry for my english.

    • mohamad rizky

      In the end what we create in the original will be generic. This is how we package the generic to be different, making it have the same principles or elements, but with different flavors

  • melvin gutierrez

    thanks a lot! now I realized everything.. It feels like, you don’t have to be creative to be creative. hehe.. very helpful 🙂

  • Mary Kart

    We all understand the advantages and disadvantages of the competition. Working custom designer can do one logo a day knowing that it’s paid for. …but for the contest if I do great design and a unique logo for a whole day, you will remain hungry, because the client will not choose my logo, because I’m not one, and the other designer did as well a unique logo and the client chose his design not mine, NOT BECAUSE HE’s BETTER but because it is perhaps closer to him in spirit. For this I have hundreds of templates and pieces of their own design, but they are common to all designers items, though made individually, but the technique is valid in Illustrator, one for all.