One thing designers really really dread is the logo mill. Companies will churn out low-cost solutions for small businesses who desparately want identity materials but don't feel they can lay down the few thousand it can potentially cost to have a qualified designer do it the way it ought to be done.
For a price of just a few hundred dollars, Logoworks promises that your enterprise can get first concepts back in a few days and a complete logo design within about a week. Thier most inexpensive package, at $299, provides 2 designers working on your brief, 4-6 concepts as results, and tw0 rounds of revisions. There are two other levels of logo design, that provide more designers turned to the task and more concepts to select from.
One would compare the traditionally comparatively high-priced route with the Logoworks route and wonder where the discount comes from. The corporation itself is (currently, at least) making money hand over fist according to reports, so corporate isn't missing any meals (or mortgage payments).
The way you get such deep discounts is off the backs of the people working for you, of course. Graphic Design is a highly skilled profession, and design professionals who hit it can be expected to be paid rather well for thier work. The Wall Street Journal (via the desgin 'blog ThePreparedMind.com) lays out for us how Logoworks gets its designs:
The pay scale fluctuates. Designers are designated at expert, midlevel, or entry-level rank based on a point scale of 0 to 100. They all start at entry level, and their points and pay go up and down based on how their designs fare both with clients and with their peers. For instance, entry-level designers get paid $25 per project; midlevel, $30; and experts, $40.
“Expert” designers get paid only $40 for developing a logo??? reacts Chris Gee, the 'blog's author.
Indeed. Therein lays the one of the weaknesses of the Logoworks business model. Most budding designers have debts-school loans, the cost of living, and that-and even the most beginner economist should get some idea of just how much work one has to do to "keep the wolf away from the door", as Chris Gee aptly points out. Also there is the point of asking desperate designers to do professional work for next to nothing, which is just offensive to me (and should be to anyone who believes that professional work deserves professional recompense)
Designers sign up with the site and go to a private area where they obtain creative briefs and upload the results of thier work. Logoworks apparently does very little checking for copyright infringement, operating primarily as a broker connecting designers wishing to sell something to customers wishing to buy (but who don't have much money to spend). This laissez-faire approach results in two things: an abundance of banal design (admittedly this is a subjective reaction, but, though there was some very professional looking content there very little of it moved me) and copyright infringement.
There is evidence available suggesting that Logoworks designers, in thier drive to complete designs, make slight changes to existing logos and upload them as thier own work, or else coming up with designs that could be, at the most generous, be seen as merely deriviative (based on others' work) and still litigation-licious.
The highly excellent 'blog, BAD DESIGN KILLS!!!, has a gallery of apparent Logoworks ripoffs here. Some, like the one for the Dutton Auto Body Shop firm, were clearly taken from extant work (an edgy logo by Mark Fox) with little alteration and no credit at all. Some of the logos challenge the eye to figure out where they were changed, if at all.
This is not to say that, certainly, design is somewhat incestuous; designers are influenced by other designers and also by other design. We are immersed in design 24/7/365. But, if the line between influence and plagiarism is hard to define, it's easy to see when it's been crossed.
Designers design. They aggregate influences, input, and what the client wants and create something that is per se original. This original work can pay homage, honor its roots. But between the inspiration and the result, a designer should be doing something creative, taking the influences and melding them into something that is, at least, a little unexpected. Since, in a way, everything being done now has been done before, you wouldn't think that it were possible, but somehow it happens.
Paul Rand took a circle, lines, and dots, used printed circuits for inspiration, and came up with the Westinghouse logo-a classic of design that is still being used today.
At the very least, wholesale borrowing of someone else's design is no better than simple theft. And designers, no matter how desparate for work or a paycheck, should be above that.
Sure, Logoworks is storming the castle now, but they are burning the candle at both ends and the middle, and the result will be a lot of bitter designers and unimpressive though professional logo art which will just degrade the visual landscape. We all lose. And, as soon as the profits begin to decrease, count on Logoworks to leave the scene.
- The Origin of Brands Blog, an entry which responds to the heat generated by the Logoworks design infringement imbroglio, including the original post (No More Ugly Logos), and which notably has comments turned off now;
- "LogoWorks or LogoJERKS", ThePreparedMind.com's critical posting about Logoworks;
- "LogoWorks-really a bargain?", by Morea Lyera at the 'blog Morea's Photos;
- Plaudits from The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine.