In the late 1980s my then local Chinese takeaway inexplicably got a ‘Make your own business card’ machine. As a curious child, not yet set on a future design path, I can remember flicking through all the possible combinations of type and image whilst waiting for my food, having a clear idea of what my red serif type on white card, with an artist’s palette in the corner would look like if only I could raise the required funds.
Thirty years later for those looking to short-cut their brand identity in a cost-effective manner we have a new service entitled Logojoy. Their website proudly states, “By using artificial intelligence, genetic algorithms, and a few other fancy technologies, we’re empowering everyone to design their own logo.” What is this fancy technology they talk of? More importantly what is a ‘genetic algorithm’ and does it make good logos?
There’s only one way to find out and that’s get my own logo commissioned. I went through the process signed up and got designing.
As the owner of a branding agency I thought we should run this against our own visual brand and its simple ingredients of a face, some typography and a strap line. You start your design journey by choosing five logos you like from a set of over 20 — you see where this is going. Some genetic algorithms later and you’re staring at your new logo, well you’re not. Because you’re then choosing which typeface, which colour, how big everything is and how it relates and ahhhh it’s a online version of a very basic PC paint package. You’re just starting with some templates based on things you liked.
Face icon chosen, yellow colour palette ticked and sans serif typography selected and [above] is the result. Credit card details entered, $20 later, I plumped for the cheaper alternative, money talks after all and cost (there was a 50% sale) and the files are emailed to you. In my case it’s a very low res PNG.
Having reviewed the new Koto Logojoy effort I think we shall stick with the one we created two years ago. News of the designer’s demise and replacement at the hands of AI is premature. At Koto we give our clients great looking visual work, but it really is the tip of the brand iceberg. Logojoy can’t help you unlock the potential in your brand, connect it with your potential customers and fans or deliver stand out work. It can’t help you understand new markets, build confidence or engage audiences. It can give you a very average non-descript logo and it can probably make some money for some clever people, give some logos to people playing at business, or tightening their belts and get a few designers in a swirl.
Yes it’s all generic derivative looking stuff that comes out, but isn’t all graphic design derivative in some way? However good the a library of fonts, icons and shapes can be, this process just keeps this at the same level as the graphic noise we all experience every day. The aimless boring generic messaging that serves no purpose other than to benchmark against the best brands out there. That coffee shop that offers slightly over roasted coffee and no experience, the sandwich that’s been living in it’s wrapper a day too long, the suitcase that breaks on the first journey. They’re the brands that will use Logojoy, because they want cheap and quick and don’t see the value in design and the difference it can make to a business. It’s the ‘make your own business card’ machine for the AI age.
Design doesn’t have to cost the earth, be overly intellectual or complex, but it does have to have some heart and right now the robots are missing that vital ingredient. There will always be a market for this kind of thing and more fool the people that use it. Buy cheap, buy twice.