Scandal! This is not a typical word that comes to mind when speaking of the world of logo design and branding. But as many of us have learned by now, where there are people there is scandal. Logothief.com is a website dedicated to exposing the “designers” who show and even sell other peoples’ work as their own.
Case in point: The famed “Coffee Cup” logo originally created by a graphic designer in 2007. You have surely seen this logo. It is probably the most popular coffee mark in the world and is the first image that comes up on Google’s “coffee logo” image search. It is also likely the versions you have seen were ripped off. This theft has gone viral. I thought figuring out who the original artist was would be about as easy as finding the original “Harlem Shake” video. But the original artist is known. Jan Zabranski is his name and he is a Czech based designer. His logo is used basically as clip art today. The problem is this is not clip art (although from time to time clip art sites themselves occasionally accept work not knowing the submission is a swiped design).
This example should give designers and clients pause to make sure they are not taking advantage of someone else’s work. We all want to be compensated for our time and effort. We know there is a difference between being inspired and stealing. Although there are many cases of logo bandits trying to take the easy way to make a dollar, I think a lot of thievery can be reduced with education and accountability. A site like logothief.com will help on both these ends.