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.

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I've decided to start a weekly blog called Tuesday Tips! It will be short and sweet (maybe) and contain useful information (definitely).

This week's topic: Professional Robots Suck

It might be difficult to put on a smile when you're feeling low, but in business you have little choice if you want to do well. There is also a difference between being professional and being a robot.

Recently I received an email from a fellow designer, specifically a web designer. This individual was polite and professional in their message, but there was something missing from the message. They were pitching their web design and marketing services but failed to point out parts of my site that they thought could use some work. I don't know this designer personally, but I checked out their site. Seemed legit enough but I politely declined their inquiry, stating the site was fresh and I got the design side already covered. I didn't receive a reply from my reply, so I assumed they moved on. I was wrong.

I received an exact duplicate message just a week or so after the first message. Complete copy and paste job on the content, word for word. Really? I mean, really? The original message didn't sound like they looked at my website at all. There was no hint that they explored beyond the Contact page. That was a turn off. Then I got an exact copy of the first message, that I turned down already, not more than two weeks later. This feels like a dial-up telemarketer with a prerecorded message. Nothing human about it.

This is not only slightly annoying, but gives the wrong impression about you as a professional. Not only did you not bother to explore the site of your possible client, you didn't read the first message that said "No thanks" after first contact. Rejection sucks but you have to be professional no matter what.

If you're a freelancer and are trying to make some new contacts by pitching your services, do some research before you send your cold-call (email). Customize your message, make a point to mention parts of their current site, maybe sprinkle a suggestion here or there, make the effort to sound like you want to help (which you want to). Yes, it will take a lot longer and might not reap a lot of results even with the customized content. But it will reflect much better on you when you do get an email from a long ago cold-call recipient who noticed you took the extra time and effort. It will make you look like a living human being that is easy to approach and worth working with.

This is how you build strong professional relationships. It's always worth the extra effort.

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