In my life not only as a Logo Designer, but one who actively takes part in the contest ‘circuit’, you’d be surprised how many blatantly stolen designs or Free to Download ‘insert-name-here’ clipart templates i come across on a daily basis,
Nobody can blame anybody looking to save a few quid using budget contest sites and there are indeed a number of decent, talented designers that frequent the job boards picking up projects ( i’m one of them!) BUT, there are huge detrimental risks when dealing with unregulated, unaccountable and untraceable designers that many of us in the trade know about but that are not often shared. Risks that can wreck a client’s business and negate the whole point of getting a logo in the process.
As the name suggests, Designers, like any artists (musicians, writers etc.) may like to ‘borrow’ ideas off each other from time to time. What could loosely be called ‘inspiration’ (or, a cover version or homage in other fields) can vary in degree and sometimes oversteps the mark entirely becoming plagiarism. Identical re-creation of other designer’s work is of course very much frowned upon but, like art or money forgery would at least require some skill and effort(!). Even worse than that though, some’designers’ will just right click and copy and paste someone’s work in it’s entirety, passing it off as their own and just change the name underneath or within it to that of the contest holder’s choice and it’s this last one that you’re most likely to come across.
Each contest I’ve entered in the last 12 months I can usually see at a glance, 90% of submissions are copied ideas or compiled with free clipart off the internet. about 50% of them are plagiarised or outright stolen. it’s rife. The sad thing is, in my experience, 75% of the contest holders go for the trap (well if it wasn’t nice work, nobody would’ve bother copying it would they?) and it’s not uncommon to see the same contest holder appear a week or two later running the same contest again but with a big bold lettering this time ‘NO COPIES’ or ‘NO CLIPART’ and warnings of reporting any offenders (that’s never a repellent, they’ll be bombarded by more and fall for it again!).
Incredibly enough;- The only thing that stands between a customer ending up with stolen or copied work is their ability to know what they’re looking at and that’s all. If they like the look of it, they’ll go with it. A good example of this was last year I saw someone pay good money (about £200) on Freelancer for the Gucci logo with their name written underneath. Their business name began with a ‘G’ and they must’ve just thought it looked nice, That’s it. That’s all it takes. We can laugh at their naivety and i’m sure everyone (except them) did, once it was pointed out by everyone else who’d ever walked past a perfume counter or fashion shop, but this decision was made by someone who simply didn’t know what they were looking at -and with so many thousands of company logos and brands in the world we can’t claim to have seen them all or always know what we’re looking at either.
* Eg. Do you know the ‘French Property Exhibition’ logo by Roy Smith? – I reckon you don’t, but, it’s brilliant, if you wanted a logo for, say, AirBnB Accommodation in France and someone copy and pasted it and submitted it to you, you’d see it and definitely go for it. And there! you just stole someone’s work. Not on purpose, just by not having seen it before, it’s very easily done.
Right, why have I even bought this up? So what if you have the same logo as someone else, it’s no big deal is it?
Well, what are the implications? what could be worse than simply being embarrassed or losing a few quid. Ok. let’s say you unwittingly accept a logo that already belongs to and is trademarked to another company you’ve never heard of. You spend a couple of years or longer working under your logo or brandmark that you’re proud of, building up a successful business only to then suddenly be taken to court by the original (and rightful) owner of the work, trademark or copyright who found out about you by doing a simple google image search of THEIR OWN logo.
(1) At best, you can try to keep the identity through financial means and attempt to buy your way out of it, which could run into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, inc. compensations depending on the size of the business and how much and how long you’ve profited from using someone else’s protected intellectual property
(2) Alternatively you will have to change your entire identity to avoid running up these costs or being sued. If you have all your products and infrastructure branded, even your building branded, successful ad campaigns, sponsorships you name it.- Now we could be talking about your brand collapsing altogether overnight, this is usually the route of the smaller business who are the ones who don’t think about these things in the beginning. Richard Branson must be glad he never went to Fiverr when he got his big V done, that’s a lot of aircraft and trains that’d need repainting. Although just a silly example to emphasise a point he’d probably go the buyout route for sure; Someone operating a small company who’d just had their vans, uniforms and stationary done though it’s still a costly headache and they’d have to rebrand entirely from scratch.
Nobody’s going to share a logo with you. Ever. So if it wasn’t yours to begin with, prepare to lose it. !
* OneFifteen design every logo from a completely blank canvas, based entirely on your business and research done on placing you in a great position within your marketplace. If you are looking for a logo design or rebranding you can contact me and get a 100% free, no obligation quote and advice on initial ideas how to present. What’s more, after what you’ve read here today you can be assured that your identity will be completely original, safe, entirely your own and free from any embarrassing complications in the future; legal or otherwise.
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Next Article: Clipart.