Setting the scene: Late spring/early summer 2012. We here at the TimeForCake Web strategy team are cranking through an early stage of planning, designing and building a new, fully custom website for a national scholarly organization. One of the responsibilities the client was given for this particular stage is to provide us with the organization's logo. Now rewind five months.Back when the client was still just a prospect and I was exploring exactly what type of help the organization would benefit from, we'd had a discussion regarding the possibility of developing a new logo and brand identity for them. The discussion was rather short, however, as the organization didn't wish to invest what we'd charge to do an outstanding job. They mentioned they'd prefer to source the work internally and save some money. That was that.Fast forward back to late spring/early summer 2012. My contact at the organization sends me an email gleefully sharing that the new logo is just about ready! I remember looking forward to checking my email later in the week to see what the new symbol representing this national organization would look like.And I oh-so-clearly remember the morning the new logo showed up in my inbox.Ohhhhh dear. We had a problem.The logo was an impossibly shiny (think Apple-glossy) globe covered with glowing details and components that were meant to represent global interconnectivity. Though clich, the concept itself wasn't the issue. The issue was that the graphic was so overprocessed, overdone and generic that my brain's built-in stock image radar started to simultaneously explode and implode. (Yes, I know that imploding and exploding at the same time defines the laws of physics, but I'm pretty certain it happened in my brain that morning.)How could I tell the logo wasn't custom? The same way the experienced chef can tell the unwrapped Snickers bar placed in front of him was most likely mass-created at a commercial factory and not handcrafted in a small home kitchen.This was no custom logo. This was a stock image pulled from a stock image website that had been minimally tweaked (think color change). And a stock image that has been tweaked or updated is not a custom logo, folks. It's illegal.So here we have a national organization saying they were going to use this shiny, generic globe as its logo. Ethically I knew I couldn't move forward without having a serious call with my connection at the organization.Tune in next week to find out what happened next and how you can prevent unnecessary legal issues with your logo and graphics...Erin Pheil is the owner of timeforcake creative media - the Web Design & Strategy company voted #1 in Best of Summit. Visit the timeforcake website at www.timeforcake.com or email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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