There has been recent talk in the media regarding the new brand for the integrated Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) as it merges with Aoraki Polytechnic taking on the new name "Ara Institute of Canterbury".
The talk has been regarding the similarity between an existing brand, ARANZ Geo. While ARANZ Geo has not laid a complaint, and nor is it reported that they intend to, the discussion brings to light the necessity of researching a logo design thoroughly, and outside of your intended industry.
At the same time, a new report has come to light that one company has taken a brand to task. Red Bull has taken a Christchurch drink manufacturer to court over a breach of copyright regarding the Red pre-mixed vodka, in which Red Bull has lost based on the ruling that Red has not intended to pass its drink off as Red Bull.
There are several points that these discussions raise. They're not ones of right and wrong, but more about, regardless of whether you're legally breaking copyright conditions, what are the consequences to your brand that could come about from not doing due diligence, no matter how within your rights you are to create a similar brand, or product, in a different market.
What is the onus on the design agency that is working on their behalf to identify any potential commonalities with similarly named businesses, regardless of intellectual property classifications, to ensure there is no risk of duplicating another brand? Though the legal ramifications are outside of my expertise to comment on, in Ara's case, a simple Google Images search would have brought the similar logo to the attention of the agency and client before the client fell in love with their design.
Our job is about managing our clients expectations, and this extra step, taken throughout the process, needs to ensure the client feels secure in their decision for their new brand identity, regardless of the size, or resources of that agency. Any change is a huge undertaking, and an unsettling time, which is why clients feel more secure spending a larger amount with a bigger agency, than trusting a smaller company with perceived lesser resources.
The article published in The Press (Christchurch) does a great job to address the emotive fall out of the perceived brand infringement, and how this oversight has put a stain on the exciting launch of rebranding a new entity. The article reports that both parties are not looking to take legal action, but it would have been preferable if both brands did not get dragged into the spotlight for a negative reason for the lack of a simple process of discovery.
"Canterbury polytechnic's new Ara logo has a software firm lookalike", Martin van Beynen, The Press, April 5 2016
"City drinks company beats global giant Red Bull", The Star, April 7 2016