I get a lot of quote requests from people that have already figured out exactly what they want for a logo, they just need somebody to design it for them. Sometimes people actually come up with a good idea but more often than not their ideas aren’t very good, and sometimes they are downright awful; here’s an example:
I’m starting a new business and I know exactly what I want, I’d like a picture of a big BBQ hitched to the back of a monster truck, and standing next to the monster truck is an alligator wearing cowboy boots, sunglasses and a chefs hat…
This is an actual request from somebody and while it is an extreme example it does serve as a good demonstration on how to design a really bad logo. What the customer is asking for isn’t a logo, it’s an explanation. What they are trying to do is convey a literal sense of the image they would like to project to people. This approach comes from a lack of understanding of what a logo is for. The primary purpose of a logo is to help your business be recognized and remembered.
A good logo is a simple thing, it doesn’t try to explain what your company does and it doesn’t try and sell anything. When a logo is used to explain a business it stops being a logo and becomes an advertisement. A logo is meant to do one thing and an advertisement is meant to do another, they are different tools for different jobs. A hammer can’t drive screws and screwdriver can’t hammer nails. No matter what you are trying to build it’s going to go a lot smoother and turn out a lot nicer if you use the right tools for the job.