I like to share with clients that designers are very accustomed to rejection. If we present five logos to a client, and they select one, 80 percent of our work is rejected. I never focus on that since there is a certain elation that a solution was chosen. In my office there is a stack of presentation cards two feet high that only contains the marks that were not selected.
On a weekly basis I am asked by a LogoLounge member if it is okay to post unselected logos to the site. If a design is credible and well crafted, why not? If clients only selected the best solutions, I'd only show them one and not present options. Every designer hates to see their unloved work buried in a file and forgotten.
Gardner Design determined early on that it would upload the best of our unchosen work to the site and indicate that it was unselected. We all have a bit of voyeur in us that wants to see what the client didn't select and if we agree with their decision. I noted Felix Sockwell started uploading his but he labeled them "For Sale." Michael Vanderbyl suggested to me in the earliest days, that posting the discards gave the logos a "date of creation" stamp so at least a designer could claim first authorship. Regardless of your reason, it has turned into a tradition for many designers to showcase their best-of these forlorn castoffs.
Brian Miller, our vice president and senior art director was helping his son with a Spanish lesson one evening a few years ago. As he pounded the internet looking for a translation service he came across a really credible and robust site with a fetching logo. So fetching, in fact, it stopped Brian cold when he realized it was a mark we had designed but not for this organization. It was an unused logo he had created for an architecture firm that had subsequently been uploaded to LogoLounge with the rest of the rejects.
Now there are knock-offs and then there are serious knock-offs. When you can take the offending art and scale it to overlay your original and the two works have an identical silhouette, this is when our Intellectual properties attorney gets excited. And he did. And we had a date stamped record of our creation on LogoLounge that preceded even the inception of the translation service.
Let me start by saying the owners of the service using the logo had no idea they had been sold stolen property. The unscrupulous designer that foisted the mark on these folks may have thought by changing a color or adding a shadow they were safe. They were not. They were lazy, they were swindlers, and they were caught.
This is the result when hiring a designer that doesn't understand the diligence that really goes into creating an identity. This can happen when a client uses a service that offers a crowd sourced solution or bottom dollar answers. I cannot tell you how the client dealt with the shyster. That was between them. I can report that our counsel was paid in full and a handsome fee was paid to Gardner Design. In return, a full transfer of the copyright was issued on the mark rejected by the architect it had originally been designed for.
This is anything but a one time incident. At this writing, our counsel is speaking with one of the most lavish shopping malls in India that was discovered to be using another of our unassigned logos. Again, I can only imagine the center owners had no idea they have based their entire branding around stolen property. Photos showing the logos application reveal several hundred thousands of dollars in signage and a beautifully crafted fifty foot version of the mark in the center court yard, inlaid in the floor in five types of imported marble. Ouch.
Don't be a Bridget
You must know this. The world of logo design is a pretty tight network and good logo designers don't forget a mark. We may forget the name sometimes, but we never forget the face. When the code is broken and a work is lifted, someone will drop a dime. Case in point.
In 2002, our office was hired to develop solutions for the US Ag Bank and again Brian Miller created one of the most enduring logos that was not selected. The mark, a combination of an eagle in flight and a leaf, was uploaded to LogoLounge.com as an unused solution. Statistically this mark holds the record as the most referenced logo on the site. We still love the design and in 2010 the Southern States Energy Board contacted us to let us know they loved it too. It was a perfect fit for their organization and after developing a type treatment they were glad to purchase the identity and assume ownership.
Imagine my surprise last Summer when Bridget Skelly uploaded the same design to LogoLounge. I contacted her by email to point out the infringement and have left multiple unreturned phone messages. I see that she has reworked the color breaks so obviously she has taken steps to modify and improve on our original. I am only left to wonder what kind of a world she lives in where she not only steals, but then went on to post and brag about it. Her new company Bridged Design in Herndon, Virginia dedicates a page to the design, though I don't reach her client when I call the number on the business card.
As I was trying to find good contact information for Bridget, I found her comments on the Creative Bits blog. Here she commented on the blatant rip-off of the City of Melbourne logo using a Picasso quote to justify theft. Her grasp of the issue is fully evident however in her leaping to "why re-invent the wheel?"
Don't steal other folks design. They toiled and worked hard, you didn't. Their clients paid them to own the design, you didn't. Your client paid you to create something they could own, you didn't. I privately asked you to return my call, you didn't.
I now copy this post to the Southern States Energy Board to let their counsel address the infringement.