Original blog published on April 16, 2018 | Blog updated on October 19, 2021
Beware! Don’t Let Your New Brand Masquerade as Someone Else’s Brand
Happy Halloween! This is the season when it’s absolutely fun and acceptable to dress up in costume and pretend to be someone or something else. But do you know what is never fun, acceptable or in season? Dressing up your business in another company’s branding and trying to pass it off as your own.
While some business owners who do this are fully aware they’ve crossed the line and are stealing someone else’s work product and brand identity, others may be in the dark about it—which doesn’t make it any less egregious.
So, how does this happen? One reason is crowdsourcing, the process of soliciting contributions from a large group of people in an online community.
While there are many benefits to crowdsourcing, using it for your logo design and vehicle advertising are examples of how things can go terribly wrong. Crowdsourcing websites and freelancer networks can contain stolen artwork, misrepresentations and trademark infringement challenges. These are all problems that can be extremely costly to correct.
For the team at KickCharge Creative, there is rarely a week that passes when we don’t see contractors across the country dressing up their vehicles or websites in new brands that are actually rip offs of original designs that we’ve created. Imagine how it would feel if you used your time, talents and energy to create something fresh, fun and fantastic and someone else stole it. Well, that’s how we feel every time this happens—and it happens often with our logos, vehicle wraps and websites. It’s not fair to us or to our clients who paid good money for their unique brands.
When this happens, the business that ripped off the design might have created a logo contest on the web or hired an online freelancer to design the brand—unaware the deliverable is clipart, a copy of another designer’s work or protected by trademark.
One of the brands we designed years ago, Timos’ Air Conditioning & Heating, is a popular choice of design thieves who try to pass off the logo as “original artwork.” Whenever KickCharge and our clients learn that our logos have been pilfered, we take steps to right this wrong, which often includes getting lawyers involved.
Before you trust your brand development to one of these entities, please consider that the designers churning out this work are not necessarily held to the same standard of accountability as a trusted professional agency. Even if they accept responsibility when design theft is brought to their attention, the burden of removing a stolen logo from vehicles, websites, uniforms and other collateral and starting the rebranding effort once again falls to the small business owner. You can learn more about the pitfalls of trademark infringement in this ACHR News article.
Don’t Get Tricked—Trust Proven Professionals to Build Your Brand
“You get what you pay for.” Although this is a cliché, that doesn’t make it any less true. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. When you choose the inexpensive route, it can result in very costly mistakes related to your time and your money. When it comes to your precious brand, seek out a trusted agency from the start—and make sure to trademark your original brand.