I wanted to write an article addressing some of the issues I see my clients face when developing their new brand. Two obstacles I see them struggle with is (1) using online graphic design and logo contest sites and it resulting in a poor outcome and (2) not understanding why they should invest more into their logo design vs other areas of brand development. I’d say an estimated 10% of my clients come to me after using an online design site and don’t have a positive experience usually because the communication barrier muddles the process.
I recently had a client that operates a successful swimming company in Virginia Beach alert me that a designer from one of these online sites had copied our logo design we created for them years ago, in an online logo contest and the exact design we created, was replicated. We were both in shock. We both contacted the online site to alert them of the infringement and jumped through multiple hoops to even get someone to acknowledge our problem. The designer that replicated our logo design was based in Bangladesh, and the online site owner was based out of Australia, so they were not subject to U.S. Copyright laws. We were told (after days of no correspondence) that the designer was “sanctioned” and that, was that.
I also had another client come to me after using an online site for a beard oil company. He provided the online designer with a sample logo for them to use as inspiration. The online designer, based in another country, removed the product name and inserted the new client’s product name, kept the logo mark or icon and then provided my client that image as a logo proof, a clear example of logo infringement.
In another case of an online design site, the client was actually happy with the design process and has successfully closed out the job. Months later the online designer alerted him about a clause in the contract that ordered the client to pay the online designer a fee every time the logo was used, and the final dollar amount totaled into the tens of thousands of dollars.
I’m sure some customers have found success with some of those online sites, but please buyer beware.
Secondly, some of my clients don’t understand why the cost of a logo design is not less expensive. I’ve even heard a client say, “It’s only an inch big!” A logo design is the singlemost important investment you will make in your business’ brand and is always worth the cost and time. It will show on all platforms, print, web, social media, swag, and more, for hopefully the entire lifetime of your brand. It requires the designer to have technical skills in Illustrator, the creative mind to interpret your business feel and ensure it operates and functions properly on multiple platforms and sizes.
You also need to trademark your logo design after it’s approved. You can go online to submit to the U.S. Copyright office or you can use a local trademark attorney. It is a process that I deem mandatory. I believe the Keep Austin Weird creators did not trademark theirs and it was taken over by another group. If you create your logo design right the first time, you won’t have to redesign and resubmit for trademark as well, saving you time and headache.
You can always cut costs on other areas of your business launch, but a logo design is not one of them.
For instance, websites can be developed for free these days. We are now in an era where multiple platforms provided free website development software, such as SquareSpace, Wix and others. When I started out in design and saw the introduction of website development, they were quite costly. I’ve worked at big agencies that charged anywhere from $2000 to $200,000 for a website build. Yes, websites change every couple of years, they go through various designers, content changes, user ability changes, images, etc. But the logo design (hopefully) remains the same. How many times has Nike changed it’s logo since its original inception? Zero. But the branding has contantly changed, so doesn’t it make sense to invest in a local logo designer?
We are also in an era of affordable online printing. When I started as a designer in the late 90’s, you had to go to a designer to get a brochure printed or cards, and it was quite costly. Now, you can use a software program or template and upload your design, order and ship to yourself in minutes. Take advantage of these online sites, especially the ones that offer refunds if you’re not happy.
If you are developing a new startup, a new brand, the face of your new company, isn’t it worth the time and effort to meet a local graphic designer in person to talk one-on-one about your ideas, and know that designer is also just as invested in creating a creative and legit logo design?