When is a $50 logo good enough?

Question: I started a small business and now I need a logo. What would be the best route to get one?

I have worked in the advertising industry for three decades.

In this time, I have learnt that designing a logo is a ‘grudge purchase’ for most startup businesses.

The role of a logo is to set the tone for your brand. A logo can also be a powerful form of marketing, as it is one of the few visual aspects that will help people identify your business at first glance. This means that designing a logo requires special care and attention.

Clients can’t believe that all the small details that are included in a custom logo design took years of experience to know. Yet, these decisions can make or break their company’s brand image, depending on which logo profile is right for their industry.

In 2013, companies like Elance-oDesk made their appearance. With thousands of designers competing for a limited amount of work, prices have gone down to their lowest point. Experience became a thing of the past and suddenly design costs plummeted to between $50 and $250 for a logo.

Soon after, other online design applications entered the market… e.g. Canva, Smashing Logo, Logomaster (to mention a few) and clients started designing their own logos.

When it comes to designing logos, many clients are now taking matters into their own hands. With the rise of online logo design applications, clients are able to create logos in a fraction of the time at an affordable price.


Many small-scale startups will only use their logo on on-line platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. A business that has no plans to expand beyond the digital platforms and no plans to print business cards, labels, marketing material, billboards, posters or apparel with their logo. In this case, a $50 logo is good enough.

BUT (a big ‘but’ in bold and capital letters):

If you have plans to expand your business, these logos should be avoided.


  1. A logo designed on a platform such as Canva or Logomakr can’t be TradeMarked.
  2. If you are on the free version of one of these platforms, you will not be able to simply resize the designs e.g. you started out with a canvas size of 400x400px but after a couple hours of working on your design, you want to print it at a poster size. You will not be able to resize the canvas for a poster size without upgrading to the pro version. You will be able to download the design in PDF.
  3. To be able to make the changes to the PDF, you will need to buy Adobe Illustrator (ZAR9,000); or CorelDraw for beginners (ZAR3,200) or Affinity Designer ($54.99 / ZAR899.99)
  4. If you would like to do all your designs in Canva, you would need to buy the professional option which is about $12.99/month (ZAR195/month). Choosing a logo for your start-up might be one of the most difficult tasks. With so many different combinations and possibilities, it can be hard to find something that is just right. However, with the multitude of free templates available on websites like Canva and Logo Makr, keep in mind that you might end up with the same logo as any person using the same free template as you.


These free template design examples below are beautiful, but they are scattered over 3 different industry sectors, which stack the odds against your “unique” design for your industry.

Tip: Read the terms of service when designing on an online design application

Crafmo Cleaning Services is an actual company, and the other logos in the image are from the same site they got their logo template.

Crafmo is a legit company that used a template from Shutterstock

“When the big boys get it wrong”

Company logos that are too similar

Depending on your start-up’s circumstances, you may find that investing in a professionally designed logo at the beginning will contribute to the success of your new business and save you money in the long-run.

Sherissa R

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