I worked with a client who asked for a logo design, color palette creation and style guide in exchange for very, very little money. I presented four concepts, each with several iterations. The client chose, the project was completed and files handed off. Does the client have the right to keep the unused logos?? The ones they didn't select turned out to be the best, in my opinion...and given that they low-balled me on project fee, I don't feel that they should get all unused. What if they decide to use them in the future??

  • 4
    Possible duplicate of Client buys logo but wants to buy other concepts too
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 20:12
  • Hi R.L., Welcome to GraphicDesign.StackExchange. We hope you enjoy sharing knowledge and experience here. From your question and your comments, your client is making progressively greater demands for little or no compensation—which leads to a parting of the ways unless an understanding is soon reached. You say you want to keep this client. At what cost to you and your continued peace of mind and sense of professional accomplishment?
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 2:22

3 Answers 3


Unless they mentioned that in the original briefing or in a contract, presumably they will only pay for the one they selected and that's the only thing they should be getting.

  • Lucian, thanks for your feedback. In this case, there wasn't a contract because I've worked with this client for so long. I know it's a bad idea not to start a project with a contract, but we've developed a decent working relationship for a few years now...so I guess since there wasn't a contract, they can't request/demand to keep additional, unused logos. I feel better about keeping them!
    – R.L.
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 12:18
  • Every long-term working relationship will eventually get to a point when verbal agreements will not cover some particular situation. Then its a test for both sides on how this is resolved and if the relationship can move forward or not.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 13:34

I personally keep all the unused versions, and don't feel the client has any right to anything except the one they paid for. Unused versions, especially if they are entirely different takes, could apply to a different (future) client and be used later.

  • Franko, I completely agree with you. Just needed other's feedback to validate my thinking on this matter. Thanks!
    – R.L.
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 12:20

Ask yourself a simple question:

What explicit rights are granted (whether by contract or verbal agreement) when you and a client agree to you working on a logo for them?

They expect to pay for thinking / process / production design work, and they expect to pay for a logo or logo family, complete with alternate colour treatments (4-colour, duo tone, b&w, greyscale) all fonts (bespoke or bought w/ all rights) and a range of final output files (raster & vector), and for those final products they expect to have typical use rights for a logoset - any medium, any number of impressions / click throughs / views. They PAY for those use rights.

If they choose also to pay for similar rights to all presented alternative designs... sure, let ‘em have ‘em.

Absent payment explicitly FOR those non-selected designs? Yours as creator, free and clear.

Hope that helps clarify.

  • 1
    We are completely aligned, @GerardFalla! The client received the logo suite as mentioned in your post -- several color treatments, various file formats, stacked, horizontal orientation, etc. I will keep the rest of the unused logos to repurpose those concepts at a later time, or at the very least showcase in my portfolio. Thank you!!
    – R.L.
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:49

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