Well it looks like Jeff Kearl, LogoWorks/Arteis Chief Marketing Officer, has had his hands full. He has issued several official responses to the raging controversy over LogoWorks and the stolen/copied logos. Here is the response he left as a comment to one of the posts on this very blog. We’ll be speaking with Jeff via podcast interview this Friday. I’ll try and get the podcast up as quickly on Friday as possible. Stay tuned!
Actually we have been talking to both Chris and Von Glitschka who both contacted me regarding these posts. I’ve agreed to be interviewed by telephone or to fly Chris and Von out to our office on my dime so that they can get better acquainted with our operation in person. I’m waiting to hear back from them.For the record, we have hundreds of designers that use our system to pick up design projects either for full-time work or as additional work to backfill their other projects. These designers are not college students being ‘exploited’. While there are a few young designers that we have admitted to the system most of our designers have 7-10 years experience. In addition, every designer must be recommended from someone in our system, must fill out an application and must submit their portfolio. We generally interview the designer by phone and accept less than 10% of the designers that apply to work in our system. We have designers that work at many of the top agencies in the world and have designed Fortune 500 logos. And while the designer compensation system cited in the WSJ might strike many designers as low or unfair, we have many contract designers making $40-65K per year. Just check your AIGA/Aquent salary survey guide for 2005 and you’ll see that on balance our wages are quite competitive with general industry pay rates.In terms of copied logos, as was already mentioned we have a strict policy against it. Every designer must certify every time they upload something to our system that it is their original work. We have about 30 designers in our office that spend time reviewing each and every image to help prevent logo theft and trademark issues. Whenever we have discovered theft, we have terminated our relationship with the offending designer immediately. We also carry a large media insurance policy in case a stolen logo ever gets past our QA process and is sold to a customer (so you can all stop worrying about how we’re going to get sued into oblivion).In this case, none of the logos cited as copied in this post were ever sold to a customer. They were only concepts shown to customers to help identity what style of design the company was looking for. Someone in our marketing department found those designs in our database and used them in a marketing brochure for our portfolio. Obviously, we’ll remove them from future versions.Lastly, our company has served over 30,000 customers. Our design community has created over 250,000 unique, custom logos. Is it possible that a handful of the logos that were created were ripped? Yes, it is possible. The sheer volume of design work we do makes quality assurance challenging. That said, LogoWorks is by no means the only design company with this problem. Many design agencies (including some of the best) have had to terminate designers for ripping other peoples work. The problem has nothing to do with the company. It has to do with dishonest designers. When you employ as many designers as we do there is a greater probability that we might get an occasional bad apple.In my marketing career I have worked with many agencies local and national and I have never met an agency that has as rigorous a process as LogoWorks for policing theft and mark infringement. In fact, I know many agencies have no process at all. Asserting that using someone local solves this problem is rediculous. The median graphic design agency in the US has 4 employees. While I know that some small shops do their proper trademark work, many are streched for resources and just don’t.Lastly, I can understand how some designers are offended by the prices we charge because they have worked so hard to create value in design work and they argue that we are undermining those efforts. Let me assure you that if you deliver value there will always being a long line of customers willing to pay for it. Our prototypical customer would never even go to an agency. They are choosing between bad clip art templates or something they designed themselves. We bridge the gap between free and agency prices. We don’t claim to offer “brand strategy” or other consultative services. We don’t do in-person meetings. We don’t spend hours in a conference room brainstorming about brand positioning. Designers that do offer all of these services will always have a place in the market. You just have to realize that while they are important, some customers will simply never have the money or desire to pay for them. They just want fast, low-cost design that reflects their personality as a small business owner. To them that is quality. The fact that over 98% of our 30,000+ customers tell us they would recommend our service to another small business owner tells me that we understand what our customers want.Jeff KearlChief Marketing OfficerArteis, inc.