It hurts when you're replaced by another person at work; it's even worse when your replacement is a machine.

As a freelance/independent designer, other designers and design agencies were my biggest competition. I've only had one or two clients throw out the vague threat of finding someone else at a better (cheaper) price. I currently don't have too much to worry about, as I know what I offer is worth it. But then there are the machines.

I was in denial for so long. I saw the technology coming but I thought it wasn't anything that would actually happen. I shrugged it off and went about my life. But they are here. The machines are here. And they make logos.

Our Robot Overlords Cometh

It was only a matter of time before this became a real issue. In the beginning, there were joke websites where you could generate a parody logo in today's most current design trends. It's very hipster themed and it's essentially for entertainment purposes. It poked fun at how generic everything looked with the use of a simple algorithm and back-end code. The logos were so cute and laughable. Like a puppy barking and growling at you; adorable and harmless.

But then the puppy grew up into a cyborg, using its powers for profit. Now there is an actual business that can create a brand new logo for you and your company within seconds. All for the unrealistically low price of $50. Don't get too excited about this. There are a lot of dangerous things going on here that you might not understand.

While doing additional research, I found there are now a slew of websites that can offer cheap (non-original) logos for under $50 total. So the machine is much larger than I expected, but I'm going to break down how this avenue won't do you, your business, or anyone any good in the long term.

Limited Designs

When you first visit one of these sites, you might be overwhelmed by all the fonts and icons there are to select from. As a designer, I can tell you, most of these fonts are easily found and downloadable for free. The same applies to the logos and icons they offer. I guarantee that 99% of the graphics they display was found elsewhere for free.

Now you might be thinking,

'They have thousands of fonts and icons. The combinations are limitless!'

No, not really. Eventually, logos will be duplicated. Most likely it won't be intentional, but mathematically it WILL happen. Plus if you happen to select a popular font, that will be popular for the next month, your logo won't stand out.

Your business, that you have put so many hours of your life into, thousands of your hard earned dollars into, will slowly fade further into the background. Even if these other businesses don't offer the same product or service, you won't stand out from them. You'll be a copy of a copy. The biggest brand killer of them all.

Pay Little Now, Pay More to Fix It Later

'But I only spent $50 for it. I can just make another one.'

Sure, you could do that. But how many logos will you cycle through within a year? Several years? I've covered the importance of branding before, and as it works for large corporations the rules apply to even the very small. The name of the game is consistency.

If you change your brand too many times it will hurt your bottom line. Customers won't recognize your brand if you keep updating and changing the face of it. Old customers will see you as fickle and unreliable. Businesses are seen as places of stability, regardless of the product or service you offer. Would you trust a car dealership if they kept changing the name on their front door every six months? You would assume it was a new business that moved in.

And even if you only spent a measly $50 for each logo generation, you'll lose more in sales. And the point of a business is to make money in order to keep operating. A vicious cycle, yes, but if you reinvent yourself too much you'll fall behind. If you hire an actual designer, someone who has gone to school and studied for this very process, you would have a logo that has staying power.

People Over Machines

Hiring a human over a machine will cost more. There's no point in lying here.

The work I do, and will continue to do, will cost more than what any cookie-cutter logo-generating robot will produce. Why? Because I take the time to understand your needs as a company. Where you started, where you want to go, all information that these websites don't offer. Selecting your logo like you select a candy bar from the vending machine has just as much lasting power: it's bad for you, it's only a quick fix, and you'll be filled with regret later.

Do better for yourself and your business.

Robots. You either love them or fear them as one day they will overtake the human race Terminator style. I have mixed feelings about robots. They can do things humans cannot but I've got one foot in the paranoid camp for when they become self aware. For now, let's show these cold circuit-boards some much needed love.

Having a website where people can comment on pages, it's just a matter of time before a bot comes to fill my site with spam messages. It's painfully obvious they weren't written by a person, but some of the comments I admit are hilarious! From terrible grammar, to outdated references, to the complete bot form generated to make thousands of comment variations. Each special in its own repetitive way.

I'd like to share some of the best ones I've received just this morning. No idea why they all came at once like this, but it cheered me up while having my morning coffee. If nothing else, they are all very supportive of my blog|website. Almost like a digital cheerleading squad, just for me.

Enjoy the beautiful fail!

"Ahaa, its good discussion about this article here at this website, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here."
Good to know.

"Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to look it over."
Total Gen X bot here.

"Shame on Google for not ranking this higher!"
I really wish this one was trying harder to get me a higher ranking.

"You sound very much like expert on this topic you talk of."
You flatter me.

"Fantastic! I was not sure I should follow you but you have convinced me with this blog!"
Just like running for office.

"Simply want to say your article is as amazing."

"Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post."
So polite to ask first.

And finally... some excerpts from a form used by a bot. It must have had some bad code to paste all the comment options. Maybe robots like MadLibs too? The entire post was ten scrolls long, so here are some of the gems.

"I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting."

"{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognize|know} {so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe."

"I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!"

"{It’s|It is} {lovely|pretty|beautiful} {worth|value|price} {enough|sufficient} for me."

"I am sure this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} has touched all the internet {users|people|viewers|visitors}, its really really {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} on building up new {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}."

"Keep up the {superb|terrific|very good|great|good|awesome|fantastic|excellent|amazing|wonderful} works guys I’ve {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll."

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Consider the humble vending machine. A device of modern convenience that is at every strip mall, rest station, and break room. Operation is simple: you put in money, make your selection, and presto! Instant beverage and/or snack food. Granted, it is very rare that what you're about to consume is any good for you. It was cheap and easily accessible, and that's all you wanted. It fulfilled its purpose and is now of no use to you until you get hungry again. We can all agree that people are not machines. But with the instant gratification that comes with modern technology, sometimes it can slip one's mind.

Commercial artists are sometimes treated like artsy vending machines that produce work at the push of a button (money deposited later). But the expectation is something far beyond junk food quality work. It's expected that for the price of a bag of chips, customers get a three course meal served on nice china and a table cloth. This is unrealistic. The adage "you get what you pay for" applies to designers in this situation. I've already discussed the issue of money, where the best work is worth paying for based on the skills and merits of the designer involved. Doing some research is worth the extra effort if you want to have the best work produced for your project's needs. But it isn't just about money. It's also about time involved.

If you emailed your designer with a proposal for a project and you need it by say tomorrow, your designer is under all the pressure. Poor planning on one party's part doesn't constitute an emergency on the other party. Allowing enough time and consideration for the creative process is essential for any professional relationship. People aren't machines that will always produce at the push of a button. In fact, your designer should push back and tell you no.

Even the most senior of designers have mental blocks. Some days are complete "off" days, where no idea seems right. There's a deadline looming on the calendar, emails are starting are flooding the inbox, and nothing looks good enough to present to a client. This comes with the territory of being human. The best work takes time and exercising a little patience is always a good thing.

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