Generic Logos: What to Avoid To Create an Unforgettable Logo + Examples

We all know how important a logo is for a brand. Everywhere we look, every marketer or brand owner has only good things to say about the subject of logos. It’s because they are an indispensable brand asset. 

And coming up with a logo design can be an exciting part of a brand venture. But one of the pitfalls of logo designs is ending up with a generic, commonplace design. 

Thus, this blog is dedicated to navigating that problem. We will be covering everything about generic logos and how to avoid them along with examples. These tips and insights will provide a proper base for designing logos that will wow audiences and keep them from looking “meh”.

But first, let’s look at the problem more closely. That will help us get a good start on why it’s even a matter to consider so gravely. 

Why Should You Avoid Generic Logos?

1. Lack of differentiation

Generic logos fail to set a brand apart from its competitors, resulting in diminished brand recognition. Without unique elements or distinguishing features, generic logos struggle to leave a lasting impression on consumers, hindering brand recall. 

It also affects your authenticity and 86% of consumers agree that it’s a huge part of brand loyalty. 

2. Loss of brand identity

A generic logo may not effectively convey the brand’s values, personality, or essence, leading to a disconnect between the logo and the brand identity it represents. Which leads us to the next “why”?

3. Reduced emotional resonance

Without a clear representation through the logo design, you fail to communicate who you are. In other words,  generic logos often lack the emotional appeal or storytelling elements that can forge a meaningful connection with consumers, resulting in a less engaging brand experience. 

Statistics support this claim by revealing that 72% of consumers rely on a brand’s storytelling aspect to emotionally connect to it. 

4. Risk of legal issues

This is also one of the major concerns of a generic logo. There might be instances where generic logos inadvertently resemble existing trademarks or copyrighted designs, exposing a brand to potential legal disputes and infringement claims. And that’s a war that’s not worth fighting. 

So it’s pretty clear why you should steer clear of generic logo designs.

Moving on, this next section will help you comprehend a bit more about the factors that go into creating a generic logo design. 

What Makes a Logo Generic?

But how can you avoid this and still say with your logo that you belong to a certain industry? There are plenty of ways to do that and that’s what we will look into next. 

Tips to Avoid Generic Logos 

In this section, we will get down to tips and insights on how to avoid generic logos. We will do so by examining some real-world examples of brands that came up with generic logos. We can dissect each of these generic logos to see how they could’ve avoided this common pitfall. 

1. Say goodbye to the generic humanoid iconography

This generic element is a humanoid figure prevalent in logos of businesses trying to emphasize their dedication to people or the fact that they exist for people. This humanoid is one of the top clichés in logo design. 

Here’s a brand that uses this figure:

Youth With A Mission (YWAM)

YWAM is a Christian organization that started way back in 1960. The logo hasn’t gone through many changes over the years. 

The purpose of the organization is to equip young folks who travel the world for mission purposes. The humanoid and the circle could be a representation of the youth and the world.

One can argue that the humanoid could be doubling down as the “Y” for Youth, but it still doesn’t help it appear unique and meaningful. In terms of logo principles and design etiquette, this logo would be deemed uninspiring and generic. 

Upon first glance, the logo doesn’t communicate what they’re solely about and can be easily mistaken for a similar logo. 

Solution

If you need to use a human figure in your logo you can do so by incorporating a custom illustrated version, something unique and abstract. That would elevate this kind of logo design.

Let’s look at some examples that illustrate this. 

The Jumpman logo used by Nike for their Air Jordan brand is a silhouette of a real-life photograph of Michael Jordan slam dunking a basketball during a competition. The backstory and the closer-to-real-life illustration qualify it as a non-generic logo design. 

This logo design for the Inspira performing arts institution uses creative brush strokes to form a human figure that appears to be in motion. The pairing of colors along with the natural strokes make it look authentic and unique. 

2. Reconsider the use of globes and meaningless circles in your logo design

Brands often like to emphasize that they’re an “international” brand. And some of these brands do so by incorporating a globe or some form of a globe. Tech companies, IT companies, and other companies of similar capacity like to use this kind of symbol. 

It’s true that in some instances these globe/circle elements look fine and even suitable. But the problem lies in how outdated they look in logos. That’s one of the main concerns here. 

Here’s an organization that has been using a globe in its logo design since 1982. 

AT&T

While some may argue that the logo appears visually appealing, aesthetics alone should not be the sole consideration. And this abstract idea doesn’t help form an immediate emotional connection with this brand. 

Despite AT&T’s established brand heritage allowing them leeway with a generic element like a globe, newer brands risk marketing detriment by choosing similar clichéd symbols.

Here is a premium logo template available on Freepik:

Do you see how similar the options available here are to the AT&T globe? This is what it means when we say globes and some forms of circles are a part of generic logos – outdated and overused. 

Solution

For a brand that wants to be recognized as international, a globe element really isn’t a must. You can always opt for a circular shape and maintain a unique design that has value and the brand will catch on when you show the world what the brand is about.

Think of the Garnier logo design.

 It’s a combination mark logo paired with a circular element that contains the image of a leaf. It shows the values that Garnier holds while still keeping the logo design unique and visually attractive. 

Let’s go to the next tip to avoid generic logos.

3. Say no to graphs and arrows pointing up.

If there are generic logos that we would advise against then those are ones with graphs and arrows pointing up. These types of logos are so outdated and overused that they no longer have any place in the graphic design world. 

Graphs and arrows pointing up usually denote concepts like success and achievements but it doesn’t distinctify your brand. It doesn’t say anything unique about your brand. 

Here’s a look at generic logos using graphs and arrows:

Fundera and Raisin Logos

The only good things about the Fundera logo are the font and the color schemes. It would be a major letdown if it were a blue graph. But still, there’s nothing too special and memorable about this logo because of the use of a generic graph element. 

If you didn’t know this brand, you would get some mixed signals about the industry to which this logo belongs. This is a financial marketplace based in the UK. But at first, you wouldn’t get such an impression. The arrow in the combination mark logo is just a generic element that doesn’t serve a distinct purpose. 

Solution

Be specific about your intentions and let the logo have elements that speak about targeted aspects of your brand and not just about your industry. 

Here’s a creative way to use an arrow that keeps your logo from looking generic:

In the case of the Amazon logo, the arrow serves 2 distinct purposes. One is that it shows the concept of how they offer a wide range of products from a-z. The other is that it acts as a smile foreshadowing the smile on satisfied customers. 

Likewise, your logo needs to be very purposeful and not general. 

With that, let’s move on to the next tip.

4. Skip the building iconography.

Businesses that are real estate-related or construction-related are known to incorporate building iconography. You will often see geometric shapes forming rooflines, buildings, and skylines. 

Here’s a look at such a generic logo of a real estate company:

Meritage Homes

The font choices with the serif and sans serif combo in this logo are to be commended. But like all the other generic logos we looked at it’s the use of the generic roofline element that makes this logo common. By itself, we can make it out but amidst a sea of other similarly generic logos, it wouldn’t be anything special. 

Solution

A good wordmark logo would do as long as it uses words that help people identify which industry it belongs to.

Below is an excellent example of a wordmark logo for Sotheby’s International Realty.

Sotheby’s International Realty operates as a franchise that’s available in a vast number of countries. And when it comes to international companies keeping things simple and plain is the key. This simple wordmark logo is sophisticated and timeless and remains appealing to a wider audience. 

But if you are particular about using a visual element, here’s a great example to inspire you:

Chicago Title is a company that provides security for real-estate transactions, that’s based in Canada. According to the company, the castle icon in their logo stands for, “Strength, Stability and Safety”. It’s a non-generic element and has the meaning assigned by the company.

This kind of logo design paired with the proper marketing can help instill trust in their target audience. So avoid generic logos by choosing icons that reflect who you are, what your values are, and what you bring to the table. 

Moving on to the final tip.

5. Run away from overused fonts.

Unless you’re an internationally renowned brand, chances are you can’t let a pictorial mark logo carry the weight of your brand image. You would definitely need to include the name of your brand in your logo. The point is you cannot do a logo without using fonts. But using basic fonts that are overused is only going to send you to the “generic logos hall of fame”

Here’s a brand that uses one of the most generic fonts around:

Las Rocas

Comic Sans is the font everyone loves to hate. Not only has this company used the Comic Sans font in a logo but they’ve used it on a wine brand label. It couldn’t be more chaotic than this. A logo for a wine company is supposed to be elegant, refined, and sophisticated. As far as generic logos go this is by far the worst we’ve seen on this list. 

Solution

Here’s the solution along with some interesting statistics. Logos with wordmarks are the second most famous logo type with 31% of Fortune 500 companies using them.  

And to make use of this logotype successfully you would need to use timeless or trending fonts. Researching fonts and testing them out on your logo can make sure you find what works best for you. 

Here’s an example of a wordmark logo that uses a non-generic original font:

The latest Google logo rendition uses a font called Product Sans which is unique to Google and is not offered to be used by others. Thus, using a non-generic font makes this logo special. But most people wouldn’t know that. And for this reason, the brand creatively uses colors to keep it from looking generic at all.  

Ready to Craft Non Generic Logos?

Logos carry a lot of weight for brands. If they’re generic logos, there’s a high chance that it could just fade away into obscurity. Always remind yourself that logos are your brand’s no.1 identifier and that’s quite a big deal! 

So the takeaway from this read is to avoid general concepts and generic imagery when crafting your logo design. Make sure it’s simple, straight forward and packs your brand’s story. Using these tips you can avoid ending up with generic logos. 

A good logo designer who can do custom illustrations can be highly useful in such instances to make an authentic and memorable logo design. Find ways to incorporate your brand’s message, values, and industry into your logo in creative ways. That can help your logo carry your brand to your audience in the most profound way.

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