I work for a large organization as the in-house designer. We are required to follow guidelines for our identity put forth by an external design agency that they made for us 4 years ago. However now we have certain needs that weren't considered in the guidelines. Specifically, we now have a large department that requires an identity that's more kid and family friendly rather than the very sleek and professional identity that has been put forth. My question is, is it alright for me as the in-house designer to play off the larger identity's elements and create a kid-friendly identity including a new logo? We can't hire the design agency again (they initially helped us pro-bono and we have no budget) and the original agreement doesn't say anything that covers any of this including copyright.

I saw this post but I'm not sure it really answers my question.

Any help is appreciated, thank you!

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    I am amazed and more than a little sad to read 'large organisation' and 'no budget' in the same question. – Vincent May 15 '18 at 9:42
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    Nonprofit life! – joesmith May 15 '18 at 9:43
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    And: Hi Joe, welcome to GD.SE and thanks for your question. If you have any questions about the Stack Exchange model or about this site in particular, have a look at the tour and the help center. You can also join us in Graphic Design Chat once your reputation reaches 20. Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent May 15 '18 at 9:52
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    Non-profit does not equal no money. Although they really want you to think that. Just look up salaries for non-profit CEOs. – Scott May 15 '18 at 14:26

You should contact the original agency and talk about this with them. Just ask whether the original contract allows for this situation. Emphasise subtly that as you read it, you interpret things as if it does, and they might easily go along.

You might even luck out and have them do the work pro bono again. Don't count on it, but you never know.

Even if you end up deciding to play off of their existing work (provided that your contract with them allows you to), then at least you did so with their knowledge. Should you leave them in the dark, and later they end up seeing your work play off of theirs, they might get upset and refuse to work with you altogether. Even if you happen to find some budget later on.

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    I deleted my answer because yours has better advice in the long run. I'd like to add that aside from the budget issues I think it would be the best option, design wise, to play off the larger brand's identity. Your users know this and trust this. If you're legally allowed to use this depends fully on the agreement made with the company. – Summer May 15 '18 at 9:49


No - by that I mean not by yourself. Write a letter explaining to your superior or coordinator of the project the need for new identity. Leave to their decision on what to do with this. They make came up with solution differ from yours.

Yes - by that you may outline responses to those extra needs. Create few sketches. Take the role of coordinator for the new project. Or and most important if you get the job GET PAID.

You are in-house designer. Show initiative but don't put yourself on the first lane of taking the blame. You are already at the bottom of the chain.

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