Online-Only Logo Design Sites: Less Expensive, But Can You Trust Them?

A lot of my clients come to me after having a troublesome experience with online design sites. You know the ones… Online only and cheaper, with plans designed to hook small businesses. What I’d like to shed light on is the TRUE cost of hiring some of the cheaper sites.

I would say about 15% of my clients come to Austin Logo Designs after having a bad experience with specific design firms. While these sites seem to “guarantee” their customers will like their designs, some clients have encountered severe legal pitfalls that make these sites FAR more expensive than meets the eye.

One client came to me about a year ago, after using an online site to develop his beard oil company. He provided the online designer some samples of styles he liked, paid the online fee, and received his proofs. His designer – who worked overseas – had “created” a logo that precisely mirrored his competitors’ logo. The logo design proofs now looked exactly like his competitors’ design!

The designer, based abroad, had simply swapped out the name and placed the new beard oil company’s name. My client was taken aback. The amount of legal damages he would have incurred had chosen and used this design –had it miraculously even passed the copyright and trademark process – would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars!

But WHY would a designer do this? Is it not illegal?

Unfortunately, most of the designers on the online sites are overseas and are therefore not subject to the United States copyright laws. This is far more common than you’d think.

Recently, I had a conversation with my trademark attorney, who told me about another case he was working on where a client used an online design site, and fell into legal problems. The client had approved the online logo design provided by the overseas designer, and invested money to print the design on pricey signage, cards and other branding products.

The client was then sued for the design! In the end, the client was forced to take down all branding material, and was out the cost for the logo fee.

As if this was not enough, the client was sadly informed that the contract with the online designer had specified that the client had to pay the designer $150 EACH time the logo was displayed – on every business card, and in every medium! The client was not aware of that stipulation in the contract agreement with the online site. In the end, my attorney’s client had to pay the initial logo design fee, lawyer fees, and printing fees. Finally, the client was back to the drawing board.

But how can you protect yourself against problems with cheaper, online-only sites?

Always be aware of some of the potential pitfalls of these online design sites. Your logo is the face of your company – the one mark that interprets and sets the tone for your business, and is consistent through its life.

Take the time to consult with a designer in person, who cares for the well being of your company. It makes sense to invest in your brand and use a designer who conforms to the U.S. copyright laws. You can do this by meeting the designer in person and discussing your vision for your brand. Working together with someone who has YOUR best interest at heart can set your mind at ease.