What Kind of Logo Design Do You Get For $5? It Just Might Be the Litigious Kind.
I recently consulted with a client about branded t-shirt design for her growing virtual cycling and fitness business. This client already had an established logo and branded color palette but wanted to find a creative approach to how the messaging on her t-shirts would appear. She wanted to elevate the overall design and style from what she was currently selling.
We met on Zoom and I asked her about the logo and branded guidelines that she received from her on-line designer. All she had received was a singular page showing the CMYK and HEX color breakdowns in addition to receiving transparent PNG files (PNG - Portable Network Graphics) of the logo. This is the first red flag that came up. She should have received EPS (EPS = encapsulated-postscript) files with the fonts outlined in at least CMYK mode. Pantones should have been an option as well and RGB eps files should have been prepared.
The second and third red flags came next. The scalability of the finalized logo was not taken into consideration for application on future identity systems. When we screen shared, I saw the PDF presentation of her logo as given by the designer and there were no comps showing a scaled down version of 1 or 2 inches. The dimensions of a standard US business card is 3.5 x 2 inches. One of the contributing factors to the lack of scalability was that it incorporated a 2-font system and the hand-rendered font called “Brittany Signature” (See example) is not very scalable, in addition to not being very legible due to its overall light-weight structure. If a business sponsored an event and the space allocated for the display of sponsor logos was limited, that logo may not have any legibility.
While on Zoom, we worked together on some rough sketches for potential t-shirt designs that utilized her trademarked phrases. The portions of text that was written in Brittany Signature was illegible. I asked her if she really wanted to continue with this font within her brand, pointing out the overall foreseeable issues with reproduction and this is when the third red flag came up. She told me the designer said she used DaFont (www.dafont.com) to source her fonts for this project and she informed her that “all the fonts are free to use.” Wrong! They are not always free and each font comes with a “read me” text file and/or disclaimer within the posting. Brittany Signature is not free to use and the note from the author says “By installing or using this font, you are agree to the Product Usage Agreement - This font is already FULL VERSION and ONLY for PERSONAL USE. NO COMMERCIAL USE ALLOWED!” There is a link to purchase the font from the foundry for the mere amount of $23USD. What kind of designer does not take into consideration the potential copyright violation this poses? The kind of designer you get for $5.
I advised my client to purchase the font from the foundry to avoid any potential future issues.
Still considering a crowd-sourced logo to save money? You might want to rethink that and to remember the saying “penny wise and pound foolish.” What guarantee is the seller giving when designing your logo, which is considered intellectual property? What happens when your logo contains copyrighted material, or worse, stolen material? What rights have been transferred, if any? And how does one transfer copyrights? While I am not an attorney, I can not give legal advice on this subject but to rather bring up these issues about the logo, or intellectual property you will be purchasing and using to represent your business.
Linda Modica Innovation + Design LLC has a “warranty of originality” clause within each contract in which the first sentence within that clause states: “Linda Modica Innovation and Design LLC warrants and represents that the work assigned hereunder is original, has not been previously published and is free from copyright violation.”
In conclusion, that logo might look good but it might also be potentially litigious. Don’t cut corners; work with a qualified graphic design professional. You do get what you pay for.
Linda Modica is the founder and creative director of LMI+D [Linda Modica Innovation and Design LLC]. She is a graphic designer, art director, brand ambassador, animator and strategist with over 20 years of proven experience designing visual identities and brands. Linda Modica Innovation and Design LLC is a WBENC certified woman owned business.