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I am fairly new at graphic design and I have just finished creating a logo and marketing materials for a client. I only intended for the images to be used for marketing and advertising of their business, but I'm wondering what kind of rights I have if they randomly decide to try and sell products with the logo.

Is there any way to give my client the rights to use the images for anything they want unless it involves selling items with my designs? If they started selling t-shirts or something, would it be inappropriate to ask for royalties? I keep reading that it is appropriate in this situation to sign over all of the rights to my client since it is their branding materials, but I just don't understand. Has anyone ever had experience with this?

We don't have any sort of contract at the moment (which I now know was a mistake), and I can't seem to find the answer to this question anywhere.

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  • Look up Rights management contracts - you will find lots of information pertaining to Stock Photography sites, but I suppose if you got the client to sign a contract with a clause, 'logo only to be used for the purpose of branding corporate print material including.....() and then added a clause to say that any use of the logo outside of these terms would be a violation of terms, or you sell them the logo file separately including the working files for an additional fee, or work out a fee as part of retainer, so you get to do the work on the merchandise.
    – Mark Read
    Nov 20 '14 at 2:57
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    There are a few ways to work it in to a contract - but not really after the fact. There are lots of resources with contract templates with copy paste sections to include as you wish
    – Mark Read
    Nov 20 '14 at 3:00
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It is customarily not appropriate to ask for royalties on logo usage.

Traditionally all rights are transferred to the client in logotype projects and the designer retains nothing. I've never, ever, ever heard of any designer trying to limit the usage of a logo designed for a client. That's simply not done in my experience.

It's their logo and they need to be free to use it in any and all manners they see fit. Design pricing should have considered unlimited rights transfer.

Logos are not the same as other artwork. While negotiating royalties for print-on-demand items (mugs, t-shirts, etc) is absolutely appropriate for most artwork, a logotype is a company identifier and the company must be allowed to market and advertise in any manner free from usage restrictions. Are you expecting a royalty for company uniforms? name badges? hats? cups? Pens? notepads? Signs? business cards? Really?????

If a client of mine were to approach me asking the reverse of your question -- "Our designer wants to negotiate royalties for t-shirts with the logo on it." -- I'd tell that client to run as fast as they can away from that designer.

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    That said, pricing for identity work should always be negotiated (or set) based on the fact that all rights are transferred (though the designer may have limited portfolio/promotion license to use the work). That's not a license to kill, but you would normally charge more than for single-usage rights that can be relicensed later. Nov 20 '14 at 9:02
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    Yup :) I did mention that :)
    – Scott
    Nov 20 '14 at 17:58
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    Addendum: transfer of ownership shouldn’t occur until payment IN FULL is received. And this should be specified in the contract. See also the talk “F*** you, pay me” linked from my profile page.
    – Wildcard
    Apr 20 '19 at 18:43
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I've worked as an executive creative director, art director and creative busines realtionship developer since 1997. Including just over a year long stint at Stack Exchange (when stack overflow got too big for its britches) as it's first actual art director... so the citations will be how my businesses or the expectations of the businesses I worked at handled the development of identity based work, like "logos" commonly known as wordmarks or logomarks.

In short, all small studios ranging from 1-5 employees to larger agencies and even as an independent contractor: equity based value was calculated on a projected lifespan of the marks usage, the brands income, its value per impression based in ad buys and media usage, and then very lastly - hours billed for the specific project.

These values help gather a sense of not just your works value, but also how to service and steer your clients use of their new marks so that it is most effective for their own ROI AND ROAS.

Any creative work, is considered "intellectual property" from a legal perspective.

Once you grasp these areas, how much you charge, and the limitations on use you negotiate,and the corresponding fees are appropriate as the agreement indicates.

To forgo any libel, one footwear brand we worked for lacked a strong social media practice, content strategy, staff or service method. We created a brand, a method and a practice: in exchange for a large fee AND equity.

This is applicable to any size project for any size business.

If the business or brand you work with can't respect or value it's own use of its own marks, dont work with them. You'll meet many better and more valuable clients that will become partners with the practice you build.

Anyone reading this old thread should strongly consider cautionary tales of previous false sense's of trust with businesses like Nike, and creatives like Carol Davidson. It took decades before she was rightfully awarded equity in that business, for her extremely valuable "swoosh" design.

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  • I don't disagree, but I would stress that royalties are quite different than an equity stake. The latter is, by all means, appropriate at times. The former is rarely appropriate for logo design.
    – Scott
    Oct 21 at 22:07
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In my experience, when designing a logo it's assumed it will be used in countless ways. The idea of trying to keep tabs on logo use and charge royalties per usage just isn't practical, and your client may end up despising you for even suggesting it. Convincing clients to pay a substantial amount for a logo, especially for a new small business, is all part of selling it. Convincing someone who's new at launching a business that their logo design would cost $2,500 instead of $250 is part of educating them to the logo's value and unlimited usage. It's a challenge indeed and you may risk losing their business (you can always negotiate to common ground), but you keep your belief in yourself. There's always a designer that will be happy to undercut you and design that logo for $250. If that happens, you can only hope that the business owner gets what they pay for. It's a sensitive situation especially when it comes time to pay your rent. Mega corporations already know the value of a logo which is why they'll pay the big bucks. Keeping your client, the size and scope of their business at the time, and the hope of their future business are all considerations. Good luck and believe in yourself and your talent!

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I’m a graphic designer, some school and self taught and I think that if you are designing for trillion dollar companies like symamtec and the antivirus scan summary analogy; that makes sense with licensing and things to receive royalties as a designer; however, the backend of product base design royalties also leaves the gateway to understand and register bottom line of that specific designer’s flat rate.

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It is very appropriate depending on the company you're designing for and what products they will be using the logo on. For example... Jim Phillips designed the first Santa Cruz logo back in 1978 and still receives royalties to this very day, in a lot of cases though a flat rate is more fitting for the situation. As a designer it's your right to discuss this with your client so aim for what you think will be the most beneficial in the long run. There are a lot of designers out there with major regrets over this same issue of not not being payed royalties for their renowned designs.

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All logos created by major ad agencies are based on intended usage and companies have to sign a license agreement, to pay royalties. This is standard business protocol since the 60's. Why do you think a company like Symantec would pay 1.2Billion for a logo ? It's because many sites use their anti-virus software, and after every scan they show the logo, and the agency get's royalties from that. 250Millions scans per day sum up to this 1.2 Billion and every day more...

People selling their logos for flat rate became usual as many designers just don't know, and/or want to sell anything at any cost. Also selling the source file separate is standard too. You don't give your original work file unless you get paid. Usually 3x the flat rate. If you get royalties, you should give them for free.

Any designer who doesn't sell his design on royalties base, looses a very big part of income !

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    Do you have a source on that $1.2B for Symantec's logo? I thought that the custom for logos is that the company pays for a "buyout" of the rights.
    – Voxwoman
    May 28 '15 at 23:27
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    Yea, we need citations here. This is not usually true at all...paying royalties on a logo would be a bad business decision in most situations. Also, ad agency fees often 'eat' the creative as a loss leader. They make their money in ad buys--not logo design.
    – DA01
    May 29 '15 at 2:03
  • I think much of this is confusing logo design with other work. Logo design isn't like other projects.
    – Scott
    May 29 '15 at 3:03
  • I am not quite following: Symantec payed 1.2 billion for a logo and then still has to pay royalties? Also, the effort of keeping track of the logo usages and thus the royalties that you need to pay would make this horribly ineconomical.
    – Wrzlprmft
    May 29 '15 at 11:16
  • Please do not create multiple accounts to post to the same question. If you feel you want to add another answer go for it. Aug 8 '15 at 19:26

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