We need: A Logo Checker!

Posted Monday, 12 February 2007 by Gudmund in Design, Trends
It happens all the time: big, or not so big, companies go through a full re-branding exercise and proudly present their new logo, only to find out that their new pride and joy is rather similar to one or more existing trademarks. So, what is to be done about it?
Occasionally there are, of course, instances of blatant plagiarism behind this; it is only too easy for someone unscrupulous to 'borrow' an existing design from somewhere and hope that nobody will ever find out. Not surprisingly however, designers and big-brand companies alike rarely take the view that imitation is the purest form of flattery. One chinese car manufacturer found themselves in court after their logo was deemed to be just a little too similar to the well-known elipses of the Toyota brand:

Merry and Toyota car decals
Image: chinadaily.com

And in a novel turn of events, the selfsame Toyota recently found itself at the receiving end of plagierism allegations after 9rules suggested they had 'borrowed' the well-known 9rules leaf logo, with rather rudementary tweaks, for a company conference website:
» Toyota Loves 9rules So Much, They Used Our Leaf

More often than not however, such apparently consciously calculated similarities are simply the result of genuine coincidences. After all a good logo should be a simple, easily recognisable symbol; there are only so many simple geometric shapes to choose from in the first place, and only so many ways to abstract a letter or an acronym. Throw the influence of design trends into the mixture, combined with the number of new logos appearing all the time, and it becomes evident that there are going to be plenty of examples of individually conceived logos appearing uncannily similar.

This doesn't always necessarily make the situation much better if you happen to be at the receiving end of suspicions of plagiarism though. One of the most talked about and embarrassing (for the company in question) examples of this recently, was the recent Quark Inc. re-branding.
The new identity was barely revealed before, people started commenting on how the new logo was virtually identical to that of the Scottish Arts Council:

Old Quark and Scottish Arts Council logos

This wasn't such great publicity for a company that produces software specifically aimed at designers, so shortly after, the new logo dissappeared without a trace, to be replaced by a new new logo, put together in a hurry (one might imagine) by the in-house design team.
Current Quark logo
Monster logoNow, I can't get the idea out of my head that this is simply a new, upright version of theMonster eye logo, but that's probably just me.


This kind of palaver gave me one of those "wouldn't it be nice…" brainwaves; how about a handy tool to check if the logo you're working on is just a bit too similar to something else before the grand international launch? Now that would be useful indeed. I mean, there are plenty of handy database-driven helpers out there that do things like checking if your HTML or CSS is up to scratch, so why not? For fonts there's even the rather excellent (and aptly named) WhatTheFont?! that can team up letters from a scan, screenshot or photo with like-minded typefaces.

Ok, maybe a Logo Checker just isn't realistic – whoever wants to pick up the idea would certainly have one hell of an archiving job in front of them. And even so, it would do nothing to prevent the un-fit for purpose, the similar-but-not-too-similar or simply bland logos from seing the light of day. Nor such disasters as the logo chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European union at the end of last year:
EU 50th anniversary logo
– What better way to symbolise the unified Europe than a combination of different letterforms that are perfectly useable on their own, but gain nothing from being combined, apart from having their differences and incompatibilities emphasised? Quite symbolic, some might say.

Hmmm, better head over to » logopond.com for some fresh air.

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Comments:

Research, and do it well.
By define2iota on Monday, 12 February 2007 7:40 PM
There is something called parallel thinking, so before discrediting somebody’s hard work as plagiarism, it is better to dig into the matter and find the truth behind the uncanny similarities. If more than two people can physically look alike, so why not our way of thinking as well. I am not advocating plagiarism, but am merely suggesting a little bit of homework - research, research, and research before giving in the final logo design or any other creative work, but eventually it is the client’s decision that matters. Thank you.
future
By poojitha on Thursday, 15 February 2007 4:52 AM
If some one develops the finger print recognition technology and facial recognition technology,it could be used to search for similar types of logos in a huge database,in fact i think its easier than facial recognition
I go for this
By Walkiria on Sunday, 4 March 2007 6:04 PM
A little of eveything. There is such thing as parallel thinking. Many inventions have ocurred within hours or days of each other in opposite sides of the globe and there is plagiarism and there is just emulation without intention. The issue become sone of how do you decide which is which.

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