August 24, 2005

I have had some time to talk to LogoWorks and they have sent me a statement regarding the recent controversy that has been heating up on the Internet. I think everyone should hear what the company has to say. I continue to respect LogoWorks and feel they are dealing with the issue in a profession manner. The company is run by good people who are giving small businesses access to affordable, quality design services. I will repost my original comments at the end, which I am sticking by.

“LogoWorks has received a lot of attention in the message board at HOWDesign and a handful of blogs run by HOWDesign forum members. Members have accused LogoWorks independent designers of ripping off work from other designers, passing it off as their own, and then having LogoWorks selling it customers at way below market prices.  Art is the most human of endeavors, and as such, it is most vulnerable to human fallacy.  LogoWorks does not condone or excuse plagiarism in the least.  Every design concept that is submitted to LogoWorks is reviewed by a project manager to ensure quality and to detect reuse, plagiarism, and blatant stealing.  Unfortunately, just as it is impossible to correctly judge the moral character of every designer who joins our ranks, it is also impossible to carry a catalog of every logo ever designed in our heads.  The end result is that under rare circumstances an unscrupulous designer manages to pass a piece of work that infringes upon the rights of another copyright holder through our safety net. 

“On occasions where we have discovered such violations of the terms the each designer agrees to at the moment of submission of any artwork to LogoWorks, we have taken swift action and terminated either their membership in the freelance community, or their full-time employment with us.  We are also committed to fully satisfying our obligations to any clients affected by such an event by designing a new logo and replacing any and all materials on which the logo has been printed or affixed.  Such is our duty as outlined in our terms of service, and, more importantly, in our collective ethos.

“In the forum mentioned above, it has been brought to our attention that three logos which we use to promote our services contain entire elements that were lifted from existing logos.  We are, in the same discussion, accused of stealing at least four other concepts which we dispute, and leave to the objective opinion of the reader to make a decision about whether or not the designs are "stolen".  Case in point: The Beaver Brewery logo was created by an internal designer named Randy. Randy is an incredibly talented designer and arguably one of the top illustrators in the country. He pencil sketched that design, scanned it, colored it, and still has the pencil sketches. Our local NBC affiliate actually filmed Randy and his design process as part of a larger story about the company. 

“Artists of all kinds know that it is unavoidable to create art that resembles existing pieces, especially when tasked with creating a specific object such as a coat hanger, or an oft-used animal.  Copyright law makes clear allowance for such coincidences, and anyone familiar with the threshold of copyright violation will immediately see that a majority of the claims made do not meet the established criteria.  Another of the designs (the "Gazelle" logo) was identified as fraudulent over a year ago, and has never appeared on our website as was claimed.  The author of the accusatory post most likely found the images <here>, on yet another message board where the offending designer was first revealed immediately prior to his termination.  No doubt the author counted heavily on most of his readers’ unwillingness to wade through the hundreds of logos on our website and thereby discover his deception.

“We do, however, take full responsibility for the instances that are clearly culpable.  These instances include the four Instalogo symbols which were discovered in our library.   We regret that this error has occurred, but we are grateful for the exposition of it.  Luckily, none of the logos in question were selected by the client for whom they were originally prepared, and only one of the Instalogo icons was purchased last night. We are voiding that transaction and sending a letter of apology. With this action, the premature claims of material damage and inevitable lawsuits are, in fact, baseless.  All of the logos and symbols in question have been removed from our websites, and action is underway to identify and remove the perpetrators from our freelance community.

“We cannot, unfortunately, write a computer program to ferret out all deception from our community of artists.  We will continue, however, to be vigilant in our review of the artwork that is submitted to us.  Please know that we count on you to act as another layer of defense against copyright infringement.  Your eyes and vast knowledge of the body of logo design work is invaluable to safeguarding the integrity of the work that all of us present to our clients.  We appreciate your continued involvement in being vigilant and apprising us of any work that arouses suspicion.  Please email Brad Kopelson at brad@logoworks.com if you believe a composition merits further investigation.

“We sincerely regret the manner in which the vast majority of you have had your reputations assailed by the unvalidated and misinformed accusations that are often fomented in unmoderated forums.  Unfortunately, for all of the good it has brought us, it is the sad propensity of the web’s anonymity and detachedness to enable conclusions and mob mentalities to outpace the disclosure of facts.  We know that the vast majority of you are honest and take pride in your work… over 1,000 satisfied clients every month attest to that fact, as do only a handful of violatory designs out of thousands to choose from on our websites. 

"We invite our competitors to continue to rigorously challenge our standards.  Our industry can only benefit from the constant improvement to which competition inspires us.” Jeff Kearl, CMO LogoWorks.

Here is my original post:

Thanks to LogoWorks, no longer is there an excuse for an ugly logo.

It used to be that only big companies could afford to hire a fancy identity firm to design a powerful logo for their brand. That left entrepreneurs and young companies with new brands out alone in the cold. (We never say small or local business, every brand is small when it starts but you will never be big unless you think big). Either they spent thousands of dollars or they were lucky enough to be a gifted designer themselves.

Today, all that has changed. I was recently a judge for Entrepreneur’s Ugliest Logo Contest. What amazed me more that the sheer ugliness of the worst 10 logos was the ability of LogoWorks to quickly, easily and affordably deliver a top-quality logo design service to these budding brands. LogoWorks powered the competition and provided new logos for all the finalists. I had never heard of the company before my participation as a judge but after my experience with them I have to let entrepreneurs know there is a cheap fix to their logo woes.

Here is how it works: Customers fill out a short creative brief and then pick their price from $265 (two designers, four to six concepts) to $549 (five designers 10 to 12 concepts.) The job gets posted to a private area of the website where free-lance designers do the work. Within 72 business hours the customer has the concepts delivered via the Internet. Then you can revise and finalize your selection and get it ready for various applications like websites, business cards and promotional products.

After my judging duties ended, LogoWorks asked if I wanted to try out their company. I still hadn’t seen their work from the competition so I was very skeptical they could pull off delivering top quality logo designs on the cheap. But let me tell you I would not be writing this unless I was supremely impressed. As a test I requested a logo for my new son Brendan. I filled out the brief with my desires for his brand. (The logo will be used on stationary and maybe a website.)

I was taken aback by the concepts. They were all on strategy, unique, creative and there were 3 out of 10 that I absolutely loved. I pick one of the three and revised it slightly (using two lines of type instead of one, to better suit the eyes and not be so horizontal).

Of course, you have to understand the laws of branding in order to evaluate and revise the excellent logo possibilities you will receive from LogoWorks. But it is a great first step in ridding the world of ugly logos.

Unfortunately, I will now be limiting comments due to recent rude and unprofessional behavior in addition to continued problems with pornographic websites and profanity being posted. I simply cannot properly police an open forum for discussion. But I welcome your comments by mail, email or fax.