Is your logo legal?

Your logo is the first marketing expense you are likely to shell out for. I am a big believer that even the smallest start of business should focus on its branding from day one and invest in a well-designed logo … but unfortunately often this gets overlooked with everything else involved in setting up a business.

But what if you have invested in getting a logo designed by a professional company or graphic designer? Could there still be problems that will trip you up down the line? Unfortunately we have come across one issue that can have massive problems for a business and most people (including many designers, evidently) are not aware of it.

Do you know if your logo includes stock imagery?

Many designers and businesses rely on image libraries which have hundreds of thousands of images available to download for a modest license fee to use on marketing materials.

There is no problem with this (as long as you are not using the images to put onto products to sell i.e. clothing). The problem comes because not only do these sites provide photographs, they also supply illustrations, graphics and backgrounds which can save the designer time and money.

Many people assume that also includes logos but the license agreement does not allow for this, so any logo using these is not legal.

We have had a number of instances where we have had clients come to us with logos that contain ‘bought in’ elements. In one case the client was approached by the image library company and informed that they cannot continue to use their logo. Image libraries such as Getty are very large, multinational businesses who will pursue people they find are breaking their licensing agreements. Imagine if that happened to your business. What would be the cost of changing everything where you logo appears?

Why is there this restriction?

The area of image rights and licences is complex. When artists or photographers put their images on stock image websites they get a cut of the price. They are happy for their image to be used by lots of different organisations in their marketing; in support of advertising, as part of print pieces such as brochures or on websites. But a logo is something which is very identifiable (and possible to be copyrighted itself) and so limiting the life and earning potential of that image or graphic is a no-no.

And why would you?

Even if it was legal to use a stock image as part of your logo the other question is why would you? By its very nature a stock image can be purchased and used by anyone so would you want to have an images associated with your logo used by others on goodness knows what?

What can you do?

Have the conversation with your graphic designer and make sure they haven’t used any stock graphics for part of the logo. Don’t forget this is relevant to your logo and not other parts of your branding or marketing.

PS. Whatever you do, do not use images you have grabbed off Google images (or any other search engine) in any part of your marketing as you do not have the rights to use these images even if you are able to download them.

If you would like to discuss with us your logo and branding, call on 01472 269 016