Logo Mistakes That Could Make Your Brand Look Amateurish

Advice from the best branding companies for startups to avoid giving the wrong impression about a company and having to fix it later.

Lots of new business owners try to save money by designing their own brand logo. Typically, a brand marketing agency would advise against that strategy because poorly designed logos can give customers a similarly poor impression of the entire business.

That’s a fair caution because even some large and well-financed companies have made mistakes with their logos that they have had to fix later. A lot of times, these were “amateur” mistakes that could have been avoided by relying upon an experienced designer.

Avoiding common logo mistakes to avoid perception problems

To understand the importance of branding, business owners should know that some companies spent a lot of money on their logos. While Finances Online said that average small businesses tend to spend an average of less than $500 for logo design, they found a small percentage spent over $1,000. That investment might seem large for a startup, but it pales when compared to the $1.2 million that British Petroleum spent for the design of their logo and marketing materials.

Of course, even the best branding companies for startups would caution that it’s not always necessary to spend even hundreds of dollars for a business logo. Nike’s initial logo design only cost $35, and Twitter paid $15. Their designs have evolved somewhat since then but kept their basic shapes.

In any case, businesses may not make a mistake investing a lot or a little for their graphics. To see the kind of mistakes that even large and successful companies have made, look at some examples.

Anybody who is old enough to have used the internet for several years might remember Google’s early logo design from 1998. It had essentially the same color scheme as the one today, but it was rendered in 3D with deep shadows and had an exclamation point at the end.

The design looks very dated now, and the exclamation point made “Google!” look too much like Yahoo! Shortly afterwards, they made their design appear flatter and removed the offending punctuation.


It’s hard to think of Starbucks without picturing the green image they have had since 2011. In 2008, they used an earlier version that showed more of the mermaid, including bare breasts, on coffee cups. This was actually a retro image that the company had used before they grew so famous and pervasive.

The company got complaints from religious groups because these customers didn’t think it was appropriate for children to visit a Starbuck’s coffee shop and see that image in plain view. After that, Starbucks retired the retro logo and never tried that sort of marketing campaign again afterwards.

Other common logo mistakes that can make companies seem amateurish

People are visual creatures, and they do remember logos and other marketing graphics. Consider these common examples of what to avoid in order to use graphics as part of positive brand development:

  • The wrong fonts: Every brand will have its own personality. Still, some fonts may send the wrong message or simply look silly. For instance, lots of people make fun of the Comic Sans font today, though it was popular back in the internet’s earlier days. It’s a good idea to compare fonts used by similar companies to see how the shape of letters can provide a message about the brand’s personality.
  • Busy logos: It’s tempting to include as much as possible in a logo, but keeping the design simple can make logos easier to reproduce and easier to understand and remember. For example, a simpler logo will usually look better when it’s reproduced in different sizes. The logo might appear small on a website heading but larger on packaging.
  • Copycat logos: While it’s a good idea to understand why similar companies chose the kind of logo they did, it’s a bad idea to create an image that resembles another brand’s logo too closely. Again, remember the example of that early Google! logo. For one thing, the similarity may generate confusion. In the worst case, the other company might sue or use this mistake to generate negative buzz about the offender.
  • Poor use of colors: Brands like Google appear to have gotten away with using a simple palette of primary colors that might almost look like a child’s first paint set. Still, numerous studies have demonstrated that colors can convey messages, even apart from any words or brand names. It’s a good idea to research the psychology of color and study the tones and hues other companies in the same industry use.

Unless the new business happens to be a graphic design company, it’s probably a good idea to engage a branding agency to assist with logo design. Find one with experience researching, developing, and creating logos for successful companies and that will take the time to understand the founder’s vision for the company.

If nothing else, a brand marketing agency can provide an objective perspective and the benefit of their experiences with other companies. After all, nobody ever gets a second chance to make a good, first impression.

And More