The myth of original design

Logo designing has become a fast paced competition, where logo competitions run rampant left and right.

And yes, companies still do pay hundred of dollars for that right icon, that right brand, the right graphical representation of their belief, of their company.

But the sad truth is how sure are these companies that the new logo they are so proud of is original? That their new logo doesn’t just come in a different color or gradient than someone elses? Fact is, many times that is something they can’t be sure of. And who is to blame for this? Of course, the designers.

Design competition prizes range from a measly $10 to a whooping $500, so it’s really big money, and no one can really blame anyone who would want to get a piece of that.

But as artists strive to perfect their art, to express their artistic side, they find out that artistic doesn’t always win competitions.

So they look for “inspiration” from other designs.

Although some of these “inspirations” are somewhat real, others just merely copy the logo that was being used by a different company.

Just copy, or trace, put in a different color, and viola! a different logo.

Easy money.

Now, multiply that by a hundred of times, add in the connectivity of the internet and you’ve got:
20 companies with “swirly men raising their arms in triumph”,
15 companies with “hands holding the wrist forming a square”,
13 with a “bulls eye”,
50 with shiny orbs with their own company letter,
and the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

Sometimes, someone will come up with a totally unique design, and sure enough, you’ll see that particular design come up on design sites, with a different gradient, and also a different designer.

You can’t actually blame them, it’s a quick buck, it’s easy, and it works.

And real designers with original concepts are rare, I mean, almost any artist can rip off an original design by using their own graphics software.

Some don’t even try to prove it’s theirs, and you can clearly see the watermarks the original designer had left. Some just copy and paste an image, not minding the intellectual proper rights of others, or royalty fees and just incorporate it in their design.

Truth is, this craziness doesn’t just happen in the logo business; it happens all over the internet, whenever designing calls for something original, expect a design or two that is used by a different company, a different website. I know it’s unfair and unjust, but if the design really works, it’s going to be ripped off because that’s what most companies are looking for.

So if you ever design something that is totally original, and really sells, expect it to be copied or used by a different designer.

Just be happy that imitation is the sincerest kind of flattery.

Author: Jan-Francis Gesmundo

Share This Post On

1 Comment

  1. Finally! Someone who put it out there! This article needed to be said, and it needs to get out there more. Amateur “designers” and businesses alike need to see this. Especially the businesses looking for branding.

    I’ve been a designer for over 20 years. And yes I did go to school for it. I pride myself in creating original designs.

    But yes, I often hear from the companies that they want something like so-and-so has. Or they want me to incorporate an image that’s someone else. Time and time again I have to state that a logo has to be unique. I get passed up because i am not using the “in” images.

    One of the main things they teach in design school is – When creating logos or branding a company, the design must be original. When companies go to copyright their logos, it can’t be from clip-art or from another company’s design.

    I, too, am seeing more and more “stolen” images used in logos. And I am seeing more and more “designers” not understanding why you can’t use “stolen” art.
    On one site a “designer” posted that they thought clip-art was free to use in logos.
    Well clip art is free to use, but not for logos. It’s more for desktop publishing – newspapers, flyers, ads, and so on. It can be used, but it can’t be copyrighted.
    It can’t be used for a logo!

    I don’t know if I am alone in my thinking, but I feel bad for companies who choose a design, not knowing it’s stolen. And when they go to copyright their image, they can’t. Or later on lawsuits arise because their logo is a rip-off of another logo.

    Some sites allow you to state an image is stolen. Some sites do not. Some sites state you can’t say anything about a stolen design.

    And what’s up with the logo design software??? There’s repeated use of the same images over and over in logos. I didn’t even know these programs existed until very recently.


    It is getting harder and harder to compete in the design world when “non-designers with a logo program” are putting out cloned logos, for a much cheaper price.

    The businesses don’t seem to know this is going on, and they don;t find out until it’s too late.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *