Recently I had an email conversation with a client. It's a conversation I've had many times. I'll let the emails do the explaining.

Recently I had an email conversation with a client. It's a conversation I've had many times with a variety of people and clients. I'll let the emails do the explaining. (The names/identities, except for mine, have been changed to protect the client!)

Jane Doe  wrote:

Hi, Evan!

Last week, my daughter saw a logo that was very similar to our new logo Fishhook created. She can't remember the name of the place, but it was on a billboard around town. I have searched online trying to see if I could find it but I can't. It makes me ask though, how do we protect ourselves from someone saying that we copied them? I really feel like this is the logo that is supposed to go with us. What is your advice?

Jane Doe

Evan McBroom wrote:


First, you should feel at peace about your new logo. It's beautiful, fresh and captures your brand promise very well. That said, this will not be the last occasion when you or your daughter will happen upon something that looks similar. The fact is, we are surrounded by a nearly endless ocean of logo images - accessible across geography, industries, products and services. This has made the challenge of finding unique brand identities all the more difficult.

The reality is that every company or organization will have a logo that looks, in some ways, similar to other logos being used by other organizations. 

Case in point, a few years ago a client of ours launched a logo that was designed by Fishhook. It speaks of connectedness, action, motion, energy, relationships, the regional nature of that church and more. It captures very accurately the brand of the church.  

Within about two weeks of launching that church logo, materials/advertising started appearing around town for a city-wide transportation initiative. This initiative's logo also speaks to connectedness, motion, energy, and the regional nature of that initiative.  

Both were designed by two different artists at two different agencies. Both agencies working independently. This happens. 

Neither organization should be worried. The key is - even though we are in the same geography - we are in different mental space in the mind of the public, and the marks are, in fact, different from one another.

Now, I don't want to overwhelm you, but I do want you to get inside our heads a bit more on this.  So, if I were to give your logo a name (meaning identifiable words to describe it), I would say it is a "cloud" and it is "orange."  

If we search "cloud logo," we get lots of blue clouds - mostly computing companies.

If we search "orange logo," we get this - lots of orange.

If we search "orange cloud logo," we get some things that look a little bit like your logo, but nothing really that close. 

Nothing looks exactly like your logo.  

Here is a great blogpost to help you understand this much larger question/situation.

To answer your bigger question, "How do we protect ourselves from someone saying that we copied them?" - my understanding is as follows. You were protected by U.S. copyright law the moment we created it and then firmly once you paid for it. None of our clients go to the effort of registering their logo marks with a TM or (R) - as it's costly, and actually forces you into action in the event you find another mark similar to yours. I'm not an attorney, and have garnered most of this in conversations with an intellectual property attorney friend of mine, over the years. 

So, rest easy. You have a beautiful, fresh and hope-filled brand. But it will have to live in a sea of other brands - each hoping to remain distinct for as long as possible.  

Let me know if you have any other questions.