Is Someone Else Using Your Logo Image With Name?

If you Google “Logo Image With Name” You’ll find 10 Stock Art Logo Image Website Ready To Rip Out Another Logo Just for You.

Before you use that cheap stock logo image, you might just ask yourself… who else has used this image as a logo?

How Your Cheap Logo Could Be A Huge Liability

Chances are that if you do a search for stock logo image with name, you’ll find 100’s of logos just like the ones above and there are even better odds that someone else has already plugged their business name right into that placeholder text.

 

You can create just about anything for free or dirt cheap online today including logos.

 

However, when you use stock logo images or even worse a free online logo maker you should know that those images have become so over used that they can no longer be claimed as original or be trademarked.

 

While, yes, I do find many online ‘DIY Designers’ like FunkyTshack pretty cool – I don’t think they are a good way to get your business logo.

 

Cheap or free stock art logo designs have been a nuisance in the design community for a long time, but they should be a much bigger concern to small businesses in general than they are.

 

The internet is littered with threads that all deal with logo trademark or copyright issues gone wrong, just like the one below:

 

“I used a stock logo image from Shutterstock and I tried to trademark my logo, but it got rejected?”

Perhaps you failed to notice “Copyright: PureSolution” on the Shutterstock page.

 

In 99% of all cases you can not trademark or copyright royalty free artwork.

 

What you “purchased” was the right to use the artwork in a limited fashion not ownership of the image. You should read the agreement for any stock image service you are using. Reading the Shutterstock agreement (http://www.shutterstock.com/licensing.mhtml) would inform you that you do not own the image or have any legal claim to said image.

 

So, short answer, No, you can not trademark or copyright an image from a stock image service.

 

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Do I Really Need to Trademark My Logo?

 

Not all businesses trademark their logos, but at some point you might want to. In that case you don’t want an issue where you CAN’T trademark your logo. Many businesses discover that gaining and maintaining an edge within an industry vertical can be challenging, and Trademarks can be a valuable asset for eliminating confusion in the market place as well as preventing competitors from infringing on your business rights and opportunities. Unfortunately, with a cheap or free online logo maker or even worse a logo design contest – chances are you’ll never even have the option to Trademark your logo.

It would be quick and beneficial to do a Trademark search on the front side. Find out if your logo images and business name have been registered by another party by searching the Trademark Electronic Search System after finding corresponding codes in the Design Search Code Manual. Weeding out potential conflicts ahead of time could save you considerable time and money.

 

Top Reasons You Might Want to Trademark Your Logo

1. Trademarks Provide Brands a Way to Protect Themselves.

A great example of this would be the ability for a business to protect itself against other companies trying to capitalize on “brand” searches in Google.

“Google recognizes the importance of trademarks. Our AdWords Terms and Conditions prohibit intellectual property infringement by advertisers. Advertisers are responsible for the keywords and ad content they choose to use.

We take allegations of trademark infringement very seriously and, as a courtesy, we investigate valid complaints raised by trademark owners or their authorized agents. However, Google is not in a position to mediate third party disputes, and we encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with advertisers.”

2. A Trademarks’ Affect on Consumer Trust.

Trademarks are reliable indicators of source, quality, safety, image, and reputation and, therefore, promote consistency and predictability of consumer choices. For consumers, trademarks help to promote freedom of choice, and enable quick and safe purchasing decisions. They also fuel competition, drive innovation and play a critical role in consumer protection. It’s true, your customers may not be directly thinking about Trademarks, but there is strong correlation between a consumers’ motivation to buy and a Trademarked Brand that they are emotionally connected to.

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What’s the Real Cost of Finding a Stock Logo Image with Name?

 

  1. Stock Logo Images undermine the value of your business.
  2. What is the cost for getting a custom logo design?
  3. What is the risk and liability associated with stock logo images?

 

 

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Understanding the Value of a Custom Logo Design

 

It’s not enough to simply know that you need a logo to slap on some letterhead or marketing materials for your new start up – you need to understand the value of that logo and the impact it has on your business. A cheap logo design can have negative impact on your business.

 

I totally understand wanting to save a buck and I also know a thing or two about trying to market a business on a shoestring budget. I also happen to know quite a bit about logo design and building successful businesses.

 

My experience provides a unique perspective on the MASSIVE disconnect between what people think about logo design and what professional designers know about logo design.

 

 

For Example: Parts + Labor = Cost of Goods or Services Rendered

 

This is true in every service-based business except graphic design.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a ‘potential client’ ask that I send through several samples of their logo for them to review so that they could decide whether to proceed with us or not.

 

Umm… Sure, can you send me your complete product line so that I can make an evaluation as to whether or not I can accept you as a client? Or I just might need 6 months free legal services to see if you’re going to be the right fit for my business.

 

What that doesn’t work for you?

 

When you call a plumber, attorney, electrician or even visit the dentist they bill you for time and parts immediately upon completion of the service. Now, you may not like getting the bill, but you still end up paying it.

 

With logo design, most small business owners are shocked at any logo quote in excess of $300. Online logo maker sites like Fiverr, logocraft, 99 designs and designhill have done both the graphic design community and business community a huge disservice by reinforcing the idea that logos should be cheap.

 

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Understanding the Cost of a Custom Logo Design

How much is my time worth? It’s important to understand how much work goes into creating a custom logo mark that will ultimately be the identifying mark for your business. Organizations that take a serious approach to brand marketing certainly do.

 

Let’s break the process down to get a clearer understanding.

 

  1. Research – Let’s assign 4 hours to research.
    This would be the time it takes to gain a thorough understanding of the business itself, the concept behind the business, the target demographic, and the competition that business will face. Hmm… 4 hours is starting to sound like not a lot of time.
  2. Development – Let’s assign 6 hours to development.
    This would be the time it takes to sketch out some initial concepts. Then once you have some initial concepts you can move forward putting together at least 2-3 original and unique concepts for presentation. Most people want to see at least 2-3 options, but often expect many, many more. Let’s call it 3 for now, so that roughly breaks down to 2 hours per unique concept from rough idea to presentation ready art. I’m pretty fast, but even with over 20 years design experience that’s not a lot of time.
  3. Revisions & Completion – Let’s assign another 2 hours.
    There is always fine-tuning, tweaking and client revisions to get the final logo where it needs to be. Give it a little tweak and 5 minutes later is done, right? Some tweaks are easy, some are not, but 2 hours is still pretty conservative because the designer is looking at outputting multiple variations of the “final logo” for a wide variety of production uses and formats.

 

Given that the median hourly rate for graphic design services in the US is $72, (according to HOWdesign) that puts the standard business logo right around $864 for the very minimum amount of professional creative process.

 

That’s still a real bargain, because realistically, any designer or agency worth it’s salt will easily sink a minimum of 20 hours into logo development.

According to Forbes, you should expect logo design price ranges between $4k – $15k from professional design firms and Ad agencies.

 

I don’t bring up prices like that as a way to say, “see… designing a logo is a lot of hard work so pay me $10k”, I bring it up simply to illustrate the amount of time and work that is charged by many professional logo designers often exceeds the amount of time that is actually billed.

 

For many designers, logo design is one of the biggest loss leaders in the industry. Click To Tweet

 

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What is the Risk in Opting to go With Stock Logo Images?

 

That’s a great question!

 

Recently I had one of my Adwords clients come to me because they tried to get their logo trademarked and unfortunately they could not.

 

Why?

 

Well, it turns out that their logo icon was too common to be trademarked. This is becoming more and more common due to the widespread use of generic stock icons in cheap logo design.

 

This client, when starting up their business, turned to VistaPrint, a popular cheap online logo maker, to create a quick business logo. As their business grew, protecting certain business and brand assets became more important to them. Unfortunately, important elements like their logo couldn’t be trademarked. Needless to say, this was an unpleasant surprise; which allowed certain competitors to take advantage of this businesses’ hard work.

 

 

How widespread are these problems associated with cheap or free online logo makers?

Just take a look at the email below from DesignHill, that was sent to a freelance designer 7 times in the past month.

don't submit logo templates

 

“We repeatedly notify all our designers to not create Generic Logos, despite that we are still seeing some designers continuing to do so. Some of these logo design elements have been used so many times that they can no longer be claimed as original creations, and thus will probably not be eligible for trademark registration.”

 

In case you’re not familiar with DesignHill, it is one of the most popular websites that allows businesses to hold “design competitions”.

 

logo design competitions

 

 

If you’re not familiar with design competitionsthey are exactly what they sound like and of course this type of negligence will continue to dominate platforms set up for this churn and burn mentality.

 

If you just now thought to yourself, “This seems like a great idea!”
HOLD ON A SECOND….

 

Graphic Design Contests are BAD 🙁

 

 

But this sounds like a great deal, 100’s of design options and I choose one for a few bucks, this is awesome!

Let me ask you:

  • Would you get a tattoo and then decide if you liked it enough to pay for it?
  • Would you hire 3 different mechanics to fix your breaks and then only pay one?
  • When was the last time you had multiple contractors build homes for you and you selected one winner?

 

As a business owner, there are tons of reasons why you don’t want to opt for logo design contests or some other free online logo maker. Using the common sense rule, if it seems too good to be truedon’t do it! It goes something like that anyway.

 

You should know that these types of online logos come from people who have absolutely no professional logo design experience. Moral reasons aside, the biggest reason for any business to steer clear of logo templates and contests is Liability.

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Is There Liability in Using Stock Logo Images?

Absolutely! These are the 4 Top Liabilities to Your Business if using stock logo images:

 

  1. The Logo will NOT be unique and most likely not Trademarkable.
  2. A Logo contest logo could very likely be stolen; which can be a very costly mistake.
  3. You may not own the rights to your logo.
  4. At the very least, multiple businesses could be using your same logo; which is very common with stock art logos.

 

 

If you think I might be overstating the problem simply because I’m a designer, I assure you I am not.

 

Using DesignHill to illustrate my point further, they actually had to create a guideline for the ‘designers’ who are submitting artwork.

 

It starts off by asking, “Have I seen this Logo Before?” as a business owner — you should ask this.

 

It follows up promptly by saying, “it’s not your fault. Branding is all about originality and the logo is the face of your brand so it should be equally as original. Unfortunately, Designers have overused generic symbols that have become a staple for certain industries.” It then provides hundreds of visual examples.

 

Shoot, you may even recognize a few:

 

logo templates

logo templates

 

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What Should You Do If Someone is Using Your Logo?

Be Active if Protecting Your Brand!

 

Unfortunately, unless your did in fact trademark your logo, there isn’t going to be much you can do except vent with impotent rage. If you are a trademark holder and believe that the other name is:

a) being used on competing goods and services
b) creating confusion in the marketplace with customers
c) the other logo name is being used in your same geographic region, then you can and should take action.

Protecting your brand will come at a cost and that cost will be in the form of fees to your trademark attorney. You should get guidance from an attorney that specializes in trademark infringement. Typically, the process will begin with a simple cease and desist letter. If that doesn’t resolve the issue then suits will be filed in state and possibly federal court where you can seek damages accordingly.

 

To sum up this topic, sourcing a cheap stock logo image should be more than a little concerning to you because it certainly can impact your business in a negative way down the road. Before making your final decision to proceed with a stock logo image, you may want to download a couple of those logo template options and run a quick Google image search.

 

While I think it’s important to invest in good branding, I’m not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars to do it. What I am saying is that you should weigh your options and choose a professional logo designer who can provide a solution that won’t come back to haunt you.