At first glance (and to the untrained eye) they actually look decent! Modern, simple, reasonably effective too. So what's the problem?
If you look closer, you start to see something is wrong. On the "AI" image, you'll notice the lines are really wobbly. They should be perfectly straight in a logo done in this geometric sort of style. And the Spartan logo has a very thin red line just randomly chucked on it for some reason. Seems a bit odd, don't you think?
So what's going on here?
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To a designer, these wobbly lines are an immediate tell of a big problem. They are the result of an image being automatically traced in Illustrator, using the in-built "Image Trace" function. You click it, it traces a JPG into vector format.
But why would a designer trace an image? In this case, it's because it was stolen from Shutterstock! A quick search for "AI logo" on the Shutterstock website gives you this result on the first page. They didn't even change the colour!
And sure enough, searching for "spartan logo" on Shutterstock finds their other logo, also on the first page of results:
In the immortal words of Scooby Doo, "ruh roh".
Plainly put, this copyright infringement puts the business owner at risk. They can't use the logos they paid for or they risk Shutterstock (and any other site selling the image) crashing down on them. Not to mention, it's morally wrong and who knows what other businesses are using the same design!
Even if the "designer" actually bought the image from Shutterstock, it's still against their terms of service to use their images for logo designs UNLESS you buy an exclusive license to do so - which I can tell you will cost a hell of a lot more than $5!
At this point the small business owner only has one option, and that's to get their logo professionally redesigned. So not only have they wasted their time and money on the cheap logo - now they need to spend more time and money to do it again - properly!
"So that's $5 for the new logo, plus $500 for the redesign, plus $1500 in legal fees, plus..."
So why do these cheap designers rip off small business owners and put them at risk?
Because they are charging Sweet F$%k All for a service that should be undertaken by a professional, which takes many hours of work and costs a lot more. To make any kind of money at all these cheap designers need to spend as little time as possible on each "design" they make. So they quickly grab a relevant stock image, auto-trace it in 30 seconds, slap the business name on it and send it to the unwitting client.
Now I'm not saying every designer on these sites is shady. But let me ask you a question. What's your business worth to you? I don't know about you, but my business is worth a hell of a lot more to me than just $5.
Good design should be seen as an important investment at the foundational stage of your business, because if you don't do it right the first time, you will have to do it all again - and I can tell you that's not cheap.