Your business’s brand is, in essence, its reputation. Having absolute control of all your assets is imminent. Many small businesses often solicit help from an agency that offers a turnkey solution, constructed to be sold to any buyer as a completed product. Some companies will advertise this as a strength making it easy to set up your brand all the way from logo design to domain registrations. They will configure email, social media, and business listings accounts. They will even take care of search engine optimization, website upkeep, and social media advertising for a monthly fee. Such an offer seems tantalizing. Setting all this up not only takes time but, more importantly, specific level expertise and technological know-how. Who has time for this alongside running their business. The problems arise when you attempt to close the account for whatever reason. Or if you decide to hire an alternative agency to help your company achieve its goals.
Just because you paid for it does not mean you own it
Very few people realize that when a design firm creates an asset for your company, be it a logo or a website design, they retain the ownership as the creators. If you work hard to grow your business and with it your brand, you can be setting yourself for trouble if the ownership is not transferred to you when the work is completed.
The importance of your brand’s assets ownership
A while back, we were contacted by a local business that needed help with SEO and website maintenance. They already had a website, logo, and social and advertising accounts in place. After a couple of months, the SEO was going well, but the client wanted to update some functionality on the site alongside other content changes. We immediately stumbled into the shortcomings of the poor initial website development. The existing implementation of the website did not conveniently accommodate our clients’ requirements. At this point, we communicated to the client that we would be better off recreating her original design in a more scalable website design template. One that would better scale to there needs. She was adamant about us attempting to preserve as much of the original design as possible. The work got completed and approved. When it came time to launch the new site live, the client was immediately contacted by the original developer with claims of copyright infringement. Claiming also the use of unlicensed stock photography — this last claim holding much less veracity than the first.
When a designer licenses images to be used on a client’s behalf, the client retains as much the right to use the licensed images as the firm that purchased the licensing agreement. As a matter of fact, the original licensing agent can only use said assets on behalf of that client.
Unfortunately, the issue with the ownership of the design is a different matter. The property of the design should be explicitly transferred, so the original creator could not claim ownership. The same can be applied to logo design and other assets.
Your brand identity is your not owers!
At Grapho Studio, we maintain that any work we perform for our clients is theirs to own. Any assets that we are commissioned to develop are fundamentally owned by the party that hired us to do the work. We only reserve the right to feature said work on our portfolio, but we would never approach a client with a copyright infringement claim unless we have not received the agreed compensation for our work.
At the end of the day, the business owner was left in a terrible position. They were stuck with their old website that could not be easily updated; they had also had to pay for the work performed even though we provided them with a discount.