Ethics is important everywhere, including logo designing and design in general. Logos are your unique corporate identity, by which you will be recognized all over the world. So you need to take utmost care to ensure that your logo or trademark design does not give out wrong signals, even unintentionally.
1. Take care of copyright and all other legal issues
Create original, unique designs for your logo or brand materials. If you really have to use someone else’s idea or part of someone’s design, please seek legal permission to do so or acknowledge the creator of the original design.
Copyright infringement, plagiarism, piracy, and, so on, are serious issues. In this connected world, lifting ideas from designers in other countries is easily detectable.
Designer Kenjiro Sano’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo is a case in point. “Belgian designer Olivier Debie claimed that the design was similar to his 2013 logo for the Theatre de Liege. He and the theatre had filed a lawsuit to prevent it being used.” And ultimately, the newly unveiled logo was scrapped by the Games organizing committee.
The brand’s image is badly tarnished if it is found to be involved in such shady dealings.
2. Your brand should not be offensive to anyone
Take care that your logo or brand material is not offensive to anyone. As said earlier, this is a connected world and we should be sensitive to cultural, environmental or gender issues.
A restaurant called Banh Shop opened in Dallas offering Vietnamese cuisine. It had a five pointed red star as its logo. The logo was found to be very insensitive by the Vietnamese community living in Dallas, “most of which are refugees or their descendants”. The logo used without any intention to offend really hurt the members of the community reminding them of the oppressive Communist concentration camps which they could luckily escape but which killed many of their friends and family members.
In our world of social media little protests here and there against a brand can snowball into a full-fledged uproar across the globe in no time.
Coming across as an insensitive brand is unwise financially too.
3. Your brand should avoid reinforcing stereotypes
Steer clear of reinforcing stereotypes in your designs and brand materials. It is ethically wrong to do so. Be a modern brand that stands for equal rights for all genders and races and does not have a skewed view of the world. Read how an ethically and morally biased view can backfire.
A TV ad for a cleaning product in Spain showed 32 women (and not a single man) cleaning their bathrooms and kitchens with the product with huge smiles on their faces, indicating their satisfaction at the efficacy of the product.
The advert drew the ire of women all over Spain who started protesting against this ad that reinforced the stereotypes of gender roles.
It reached such a state that not only was the ad banned but Spain’s Consumers’ Association issued a statement saying “We appeal to producers, advertisers and the media to once and for all put a stop to sexist stereotypes that belong to the past and should have no place in modern society.
“Advertising that presents women according to stereotypical roles, violates the foundation of our legal system and helps perpetuate gender violence.”
4. You design should not look like something else due to bad designing
This can be a nightmare for brands. So please take care. A badly designed logo or brand material that looks like an innuendo can become a nasty butt of a joke. Brand image can go south uncontrollably. So please show your logo to many people before finalizing your logo to avoid such unintended signals.
I am sure the above discussion and examples have shown how being unethical or insensitive towards others in designing your logo or branding material can harm your brand irreparably. So take care. Be a positive brand. Be associated with ideas that bring about equality, wellness, freedom, peace and happiness in the world.