Monday, March 14, 2011

The real cost of cheap design work...

Last week received an email from a business owner in response to a logo development quote I submitted. He wanted to let me know that he thought my rates are "way out there". Along with his thoughts on my rates, he provided a link to a website that provides custom logo design for only $150, and added that "there's no arguing how good their work is…"

So, I clicked on the link, navigated to the portfolio section, and immediately saw exactly what I expect from a site that offers logo development for only $150. The work was riddled with poor use of typography, cheap clipart looking images, swooshes, drop shadows... Certainly nothing to be impressed by. Things only got worse as I looked a bit more closely and saw designs that were derivative of existing logos, others that were flat out copied and there were even more that I know I've seen before but couldn't quite place where.

Below are a few examples of what I found.

The Long Island Nationals logo on the left, taken from the website in question, is an obvious knock off of the old Washington Nationals logo. It is only slightly changed so it is not an exact copy, which is still considered trademark infringement.

On the left is another plagiarized image. I recognized this right away because I know who did the original tiger illustration from an online forum we both belong to. The copied design was just a poorly redrawn version of the original, slightly modified and slapped on a new body. Again, that is still plagiarism.

Finally, the third example of a poorly recreated and then edited logo. Again I recognized this as soon as I saw it. That's because I had stickers and posters of that illustration all over my room when I was a young lad. The original illustration it was taken from, called "The Screaming Hand", is one of the most iconic images to come out of the 1980's skateboard scene. It was created by illustrator Jim Phillips for Santa Cruz Skateboard company in 1985.

There is no shortage of this kind of thing going on and business owners get lured in with the promise of top quality work for only a few bucks. The fact is that the work is cheap for a good reason. It's low quality and they're cutting corners even to the point of plagiarizing work in order to pump out as many logos as they can as fast as possible. They try to make money on quantity because there's no way they can do it on quality. Logo development and generally any graphic design work is not prepackaged, assembly line, paint by numbers type of work. Good graphic design is custom work, that takes time and should be tailored for your specific company.

There was a similar instance with another popular, cheap, online logo design site a several years ago. One designer, (coincidentally, the same one that did the original tiger illustration above) found some plagiarized work on the site and soon other designers started finding even more. That website used crowdsourcing for their work, so their "excuse" was basically that it was no fault of theirs because designers from their crowdsourcing pool submitted the infringing designs. How's that for top quality work and service?

The lesson in all of this is basically that you get what you pay for. In the best case scenario, if you're lucky, you only get a poorly designed logo that serves no real good purpose for your business. The worst case scenario is that you purchase a plagiarized logo, get slapped with a trademark infringement suit and have to deal with the expense of lawyers to represent you, up to $30,000 in statutory damages and on top of that you'll have to pay the legal fees for the company that took you to court. Then, there are the additional costs of getting a new logo designed and reprinting all of your marketing materials, business cards, signage and anything else that is branded with the infringing logo. Oh, and lets not forget the bad press your business will receive.

Unfortunately, ignorance is no defense in trademark infringement cases. Even if the company you purchased the logo from plagiarized the design without your knowledge you would still be held liable for using the plagiarized work.

So there you have it. For the low, low price of $150 you can purchase low quality work that can potentially land you in court and end up costing you thousands of dollars.


Chris E said...

Amen brother!

waqas waqar said...

sch a helpful article for me thanks for sharing to us and thanks for information i love your stuff ! cheap logo design