So you’re starting a small business and finally have all your legal ducks in a row. Your company name is approved, and you’re financially set to move forward developing your brand, your true passion. Now its time to pick either a cheap, internet-based graphic design company, an image or clip art from a stock site or meet with a local graphic designer in town. The first two options appear to be a quick, easy fix…but at what cost?
I want to warn small business owners of some possible legal conflicts that can arise if you don’t choose a local graphic designer for your long-term logo design branding. Many of the online design sites, use overseas designers with U.S. companies, but oftentimes, the laws of the country in which the graphic designer lives differ from the U.S. trademark law, thus leaving YOU susceptible to lawsuits. They are also usually not subject to refraining from copying other company’s logo designs. We have had numerous online sites steal our original logo designs trying to repurpose our original work for another company, and its a little heartbreaking to witness.
I’ve also had clients walk in telling us stories of providing online designers with images to reference, only to have proofs sent to them with simply the competitor’s company name replaced by theirs, an obvious trademark infringement. I’ve also had new clients come to us having tried online design sites, only to be frustrated that they felt they could not communicate well with them, perhaps due to a language barrier on the designer’s end.
In addition, most stock photo or clip art companies often have terms and conditions that stop their images being used as trademarks, unless you’re willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars up front. Always read the fine print. Also, know that if you select an image from a stock site, there is a likelihood that another company may have that same logo design or trademark, but with a different name. I’ve seen multiple companies use business card design sites as well for the same company, and it can get confusing to the consumer, as the fonts, colors and graphics are repeated for different companies, sometimes in the same field.
It’s always best to utilize a graphic designer that you can meet in person, text directly and possibly establish a relationship with, hopefully longterm. Local logo designers that are immersed in your community are a huge branding asset. This shows accountability on their part and also delivers personal service and more open lines of communication. They are connected to local vendors, printers, investors, advisors, small business events and more.
Another big benefit in choosing a local, logo designer is they maintain an awareness for your brand and how it would fit within the community. They are already familiar with the rival coffee shops brand you may be competing with or the latest shuttle company’s brand that may be your competition, and how to help you establish your own killer look and feel, without infringing on others.
Always approach your brand’s logo design, as an investment, not just an expense. The logo design is the one thing you should hopefully never have to change, its the first chance to make a strong first impression. It’s like a secure foundation to your house, allowing all other assets to accumulate securely thereafter. It’s the launchpad your web designer uses for your online web presence feel, the color palette, the tone.
Consider all these factors when making your selection. In this new era of entrepreneurship, online graphic design is now less expensive, but establishing and maintaining a relationship with a personalized graphic designer in your community is priceless.