It’s not uncommon for business to appropriate generic iconography in their logo design. While this may seem like a cheap and effective solution to communicate your brand story, it rarely has the impact that your logo should have.
One of the key characteristics of a successful logo is differentiation. If you’re differentiated you can own your visual identity. No one will confuse you with your competitors. By adopting an existing generic icon like a dollar sign, heart, key, etc., you sacrifice your ability to stand out for a quick association of what your brand is about. What’s to stop any of your competitors for taking the same approach? After all, you can’t trademark a generic icon.
At face value, the dollar sign, is a symbol for money in America. When you look at restaurant and hotel reviews expense is often indicated with a number of dollar signs. But what about pawn shops and short term lenders? To them the dollar sign represents cheap deals or quick cash. Which way will your target audience view your logo with a generic dollar sign? You may come to represent cheapness which is often the worst way to position your business.
Spend the time developing a logo that works for your business values, and avoid the pitfalls of using an existing generic icon that you’ll never be able to call your own. Understand what your brand is about, and work with a designer to create an identity that works for your target audience while allowing your business to grow.