Just how original is your logo?

Every client wants an original logo. But as a designer, how original can you be? With the most honest intent, we’re all subjected to a huge amount of marketing, and subliminal advertising can count for a lot.

In order to be as unique as the next designer, many projects result in over-complicated designs, adding a new piece here, a different element there. But for a logo to be effective it needs to be simple in appearance.

Take a look at Peter’s logo on the PGI Design site (broken link removed, 2014), then compare it to Tara’s at Graphic Design Blog. They have their differences, but with a 90 degree rotation they look similar.

PGI Design Graphic Design Blog logos

I’m not saying they’re copies. Far from it. But ask yourself, if you look hard enough, will you find an almost exact match to any mark?

My old logo is very similar to the old Dosh Dosh logo (no longer online).

Dosh Dosh David Airey logos

I used to receive emails pointing me in the direction of Dosh Dosh due to the similarity. Maki, the Dosh Dosh author, assured me his designer created an original logo. I believe him. The blog world is fairly small, and it’d be foolish to think that two blogs with a few thousand readers between them could stay out of each others way. Maki is smarter than that.

I caught the below examples over on SonSpring, showing dubious LogoMaid designs.

Stolen logos

How original is your logo? Have you seen any similar ones?

Relevant reads:

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39 comments

  1. I find designing a logo that makes sense to be the hardest part. Thats why my logo makes no sense ;)

  2. The logo for my blog is completely original in that I designed it and all aspects of it came straight from my creative mind, but the fact that it uses to talk balloon makes it similar to thousands of other sites’ logo. I played around with about 5 different designs and I just couldn’t decide on one as they were all terrible in my eyes. I was really trying to do to much with them and over complicated the design. So, I went back to the drawing board and came up with the talk bubbles in resembling “jabber” between two people and I think it works with my current design and I’m happy with it. It could be better, but it could be worse. lol

  3. I totally agree that the media that surrounds us can subliminally play an unfortunate toll on our creativity sometimes. I’ve experienced it myself in all shapes of design (web, logo, print, etc), and I’ve heard testimonies from writers, musicians, and other designers alike. Clearly it happens beyond the realm of logo design, too.

    I’m not sure there’s exactly some defined protocol to follow in order to avoid it. You just have to design whole-heartedly, refuse to compromise your creative juices by reviewing other work while you’re midway through the design process, and hope that what you end up with is spawned solely from your passion, and not from a distant memory of something you liked.

    If anybody has tips on how to avoid it, I’m all ears!

  4. At any given time an original design spurs a trend. This trend is then propagated by other designers until it ends up in the bargain bin. Graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, architecture, all these disciplines work like this. The imitation is mostly harmless and in the case of logomaid quite blatant and stupid. Another famous case a few years ago was the new Quark logo.

    I remember reading an excerpt from a famous logo designer and he said that a true test of a logo’s originality is whether or not you could slap someone else name on it, and it still makes as much sense as it did before. I think that is a great litmus test.

    Originality is a word that gets thrown around in design as much as creativity, both of these are of course very vague and subjective terms. I think that at the gut level people can tell if something is inspired by something or if it is a rip-off.

    Cheers,

    Igor

  5. Hi David,

    Well like you I can honestly say my logo wasn’t a rip off. I haven’t seen Peter’s logo before. However since designing my logo I have seen a few designs (no graphic design related) that have similarities which again is quite worrying. If you are using letters for your logo I guess there will always be ways the letters fit together better, and so these avenues will be explored most by designers.

  6. I’d come across Dosh Dosh before and nearly email you about it. Dosh Dosh logo doesn’t match the fonts, where as yours does.

    Our logo is meant to emulate touch screen buttons from cash registers we design and code. I thought about changing it but I think its fairly original.

    Jamie

  7. Of course we all get influenced sublinimally through our day to day experiences… but also aren’t we all guilty of a bit more than that?

    I’m sure we all look at Logo Pond from time to time, so why do we do that if not to intentionally influence ourselves: take ideas and inspiration from others’ work? I’m sure we all have more dignity that to copy a design line for line, shade for shade, but I’m equally sure we’ve all seen an idea or a concept that we like and recreated that in our own work. That’s not original.

    And to be honest with you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As long as the designer is happy with their methods and the client is happy with their logo, surely that’s all that matters?

  8. Arpit, I like your site’s originality, but your logo reads ‘LAZH’ and not ‘CLAZH’ as you want it to.

    Deron, as you say, the speech bubble is quite ubiquitous. I wonder how your blog title suits. It could be translated to mean anything, really. If you don’t focus, that’s fine, but if you end-up choosing to, might be a hindrance.

    Verne, I read a blog post not too long ago (I think it was from The Paper Bull) about influence in the music industry. Every part of our lives is influenced in some way by external forces.

    Tara, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. The amount of variations on my ‘D’ and ‘A’ that were experimented with are sure to have been tried and tested many times.

    Jamie, I’d wondered what yours represents. It’s unique among the avatars I’ve seen.

    Aaron, thanks again for the help with my categories section. I think they’re much more user-friendly now.

  9. I think logo is represent of people vision… and their vision can be influence by other people, but the original of the vision still can make a different.

    your logo design and dosh dosh have the same vision Aim for DD, but both of you (david and maki) have different approach doing it, just like sitemeter and cisco, where sitemeter vision is about web traffic and cisco vision aim for network traffic.

  10. Interesting discussion David. I don’t know how original my logo is. I haven’t seen anything really similar yet, but I’m sure it’s out there. Those LogoMaid designs are totally lame ripoffs. I can’t believe they get away with it.

  11. Do any of us really “create” anything? We all recycle, re-purpose, re-compose that which already exists.

    I’m looking at an oriental painting on the wall across from me and one of the feathers on a bird’s wing looks identical to the Nike swoosh.

    We only have so many colors, shapes and letters to work with. Things are bound to repeat.

    That being the case, we have to carefully tread the line between “inspiration” and “copying”. A good way to do that is to seek your inspiration from a different field than the project you are working on. For example, don’t seek your inspiration for your logo project from another logo. It becomes too easy to cross the line.

  12. David:

    Well, originally I was just going to use the domain deronsizemore.com for my blog but I didn’t want to feel tied down in that I had to talk about personal things. I wanted to be able to talk about anything that popped into my head although have a somewhat specific niche in mind. With “Random Jabber” it could in fact mean any topic but I hope that in my title and “about the author” section and “about” page, I’ve got the message across to readers on what my blog is about, that being “web design, publishing, blogging, entrepreneurship, technology and anything else that comes to mind.” So, although I think the title allows me to kind of reserve the right to write about anything randomly, the site will mostly be “Random Jabber” about publishing, design, blogging, entrepreneurship, and technology.

    What do you think? Good idea, or not so much?

  13. I guess for those of us with little talent and no experience paying someone is probably the best way to go? Or should I just give it time, and keep working ideas until I come up with something?

  14. Deron, I’d register your personal domain name, maybe put some temporary content on there just so the spiders pick it up. That way, if you ever choose to write your memoirs online or something, you have a little head start (and no-one will have already taken your name). Alternatively, I’ll register it now and sell it to you when you’re famous.

    Justin, great addition. There’s so much out there to get those thoughts going, it’s a shame to limit yourself to other design (although you could say that it’s all design in the first place).

    Happy Rock, if you’re not going to study design, hire a professional. You can keep working ideas for as long as you like, but it’s important to know the rules, even if you intend to break them.

  15. David: lol, I actually do own the domain already, just haven’t used it for anything. :)

  16. Ah, I pasted your address in my browser and it said “not found.” I was half expecting a holding page or “registered to…” etc. Good work.

  17. Well, you’re right, I should have something there. I think tonight I’ll at least work on some sort of a place holder for the time being. :-)

  18. Interesting post, David. I thought my logo was pretty original until I read this post :( Thanks! Hahaha :P Naw but like Tara, I can attest that my logo was not a rip off of any sorts as well. But this and some of the other examples that have been mentioned just shows that no design is truly original. Everything has been done before one time or another. It’s how much our idea/concept is actually our own vs. how much is inspiration from another source… that’s really the true testament to how “original” something is. Unless you’re blatant rip offs like LogoCrap… err I mean Maid… then there shouldn’t be much to worry about.

  19. your blog is great in terms of originality and personality. we could all learn a lot from you.

    originality is hard to come by for me spending only an hour or two a day on this blog.

  20. While i agree that it sometimes can be hard to produce something that is 100% original it’s not like it can’t be done.The problem is, the less time, research, money and creativity you’re investing in your logo and the more you go the easy/lazy route the bigger chances are that you come up with a “concept” that has been done before.

    Let’s take a look at the logo of this very site, the David Airey logo.While it looks nice and all, the problem is that it is solely based on the Danube font which is available for free everywhere on the font sites.Now, nothing wrong with starting out with a freeware font, just that if all you do is combine the 2 initials of your name in not even a very creative or clever way, chances are your logo might be similar to someone elses who’s concept also relies on just the same font.Would be a totally different story if you would have tried to combine the 2 initials from the same font in a *creative” way.

    Let me show you a concept from my portfolio where i used the same Danube font as a basis for the concept:

    http://img105.imageshack.us/img105/1082/cmmlq6.gif

    Now, not that this is the most clever design the world of logo design has ever seen nor can i be a 100% sure it hasn’t been done by anyone before me but my point is i took the same font you used, had the same basic idea (use initials) but still tried to come up with something that is kinda unique – in this case, making an eagle out of the initials.

    So while using the same font the chances of my design being to similar with yours are diminished because i really tried to be creative and invested quite some time to come up with the concept.

    Don’t get me wrong, i’m saying this with all due respect, just wanted to bring across my bottom line which is – sometimes the question of originality is in straight relation to the effort you put in your concept.

  21. Frank, thanks for your take. I agree that the more effort you put in, the more stand-alone your idea is likely to be. It’d be great to get your thoughts on a few of my initial logo sketches.

  22. I posted a comment here this afternoon, but it didn’t show up. Is there a timing thing with posting comments?

  23. To me, a logo is a visual short-cut to the corporate personality and character. I had prospective clients asking us to “model” after and “adapt” from another logo. It’s our professional integrity to spend some time to point out the cons. It was interesting to see the “me too” samples you put up. Sometimes, I wonder how they got away with such blatant “modelling”. Some folks aren’t so lucky.

    At my blog, I have a similar post that shows the almost identical logo of NBC and Nebraska Educational Television Network. This famous 1976 logo incident ended up in law suits. One should not dismiss lightly that it’s no big deal if your logo is similar to another . I also features how others “emulated” Quark.

    While I agreed with Justin that original design can be tough, Frank is right to say it’s not impossible. When we were doing Versa’s logo, our design director asked if I dare adopt something that’s definitely, absolutely original and stylish but might not be easy to read. I asked him to proceed as long as he can make it timeless. I don’t want to deal with trends and fads. 3 years on, I’m still pretty happy with the mirror image logo. It is a talking point ever since. And we maximize the opportunity to explain to potential clients that creative and production must tango in sync to make the final result ticks.

    The card is Iridescent Gold Dust, with Pantone Metallic Silver 8423 and Metallic Bronze 8561. The card is then matt vanish after it is printed.

  24. David I took the cue from your post how to insert an image into blog comment to post an image together with my earlier comment. However, it did not appear. Hmmm…

  25. Ed, I know you posted a great response on my what’s your logo worth? article, but I haven’t received any comment here.

    Vivienne, that’s an interesting read. The time and expense for a change is a big factor, and for now it’s suiting my needs. Perhaps I’m doing myself a disservice by questionning it, or perhaps I’m thinking along the right lines. I’ll have to update my “image in blog comments” post as there are still a few bugs. Thanks for letting me know.

  26. Hey David,

    This sort of logo ‘stealing?’ ‘modifying?’ ‘trend?’ goes on all the time. In some cases it’s often hard to try and think up an original design for a company name/motto/value who already has an existing competitor. Especially a well know competitor, as people will then often say how ‘X’ closely resembles ‘Y’.

    With regards to my logo, I’ve been using it in one form or another for coming up on 4 years now. I call it ‘the d’, but I thought when I first visited your site I thought how the shape was an almost perfect match for yours.

    Both having ‘D’ in our names, and using that as a basis for a logo shows our line of thinking is similar, and people can compare and contrast until the end of time.

    I remember a few years ago when QUARK changed their logo, and I was surprised that it ended up being like my logo, just rotated 90degrees. I know they didn’t steal it as back then it was just something I was using to brand my personal work.

    Anyhow, I guess I should end my ramble. My point really was that with 6.7 billion people on the planet, odds are there are trains of thought that may be shared by multiple people, and unless it is a blatent rip off of an existing product, then any other similarities really have to be given the benefit of the doubt.

  27. Hi Dave, we both share quite a common looking shape, so you’re right about needing the benefit of the doubt.

    Good friend, Ed (who commented briefly above), puts it down to ethics. If you’re sure that you haven’t knowingly copied anyone, that’s the key.

  28. Actually came to the site to post this and then found this topic! This one has the D as well as the curved terminals on the “n” and “h” similar to your “u” and “y”

    logolounge.com/wd/uploads/5183_Danoosha

  29. Hi Greg, yep, that’s definitely an issue when using a cheap/free typeface.

  30. You can tell it’s a ‘v’, but now that he mentions it I can see what he means.

    Coincidence..? http://www.clazh.com/read-this/

    That’s been around the web enough, I just thought it was apparent. As I know your name is David, I’m reading ‘David’, and not ‘Dauid’, so I don’t think it matters too much.

  31. Hmm. Funny, I knew that was a v in the context of your name but when I looked at just the letterform, i saw the u. probably my backwards brain! Yup, that link is exactly what happens. Looking at the whole name it reads correctly, but the individual letters are a bit looser.

  32. Is your contact at d.airey at davidairey.com valid? Have not received a reply since using it to send a work-related query.

  33. Hi Vivienne, I replied to your emails, but will resend now.

  34. Wow, this is an amazing article!

    I can see simelaraties in all sorts of logos accross the internet.

  35. Ashley - logo designer

    It’s definitely a very interesting post. However, I was wondering, how do the designer’s visualize their unique creations? Maybe they come across some nice visuals and then forget them, though it’s impression remains deep down their sub-conscious mind. And at a later stage when they do start off with their creation, unknowingly, it is influenced by the previous visuals. However, the example I saw in the post i.e. the logomaid one, didn’t make me feel it was a sub-conscious inspiration…

  36. great post topic… i try to tell people who start a blog or are thinking of starting a website / blog to be original.. granted there are creative sites / logos out there but would you really want to be confused with someone else…?

  37. Hi Androo, regrettably, my own logo gets confused with another blogger, who is very popular, but I’ve been using it for some time now, and people know me by it.

  38. Just found this one:
    http://www.logomaid.com/detail.php?uid=6244&maincat=3

    which looks somewhat like the Ubiquity logo:
    http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/

    Might be a stretch, but the Logomaid one definitely reminded me of Ubiquity.

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