Did you know that you can get sued or have your site shut down for not following a company’s branding guidelines? I don’t want to scare you but this is something that needs to be talked about. A lot of us use the Internet to supplement our income or make our entire living from it. It’s time to finally talk about what you should avoid doing when running an online business.
Do you remember a few years ago when Twitter started to crack down on third party apps using the likeness of the word Twitter (in whole or in part) in the name of their apps. A lot of them had to change their names in order to continue to get access to Twitter’s API (that a developer’s thing). In the end most of the apps that stuck around compiled & kept proving their services.
Respect Brand Assets
Here’s a personal example. I used to run a resource website all about WordPress. I could have purchased the domain name “wordpresstechgal.com”, but it’s against WordPress rules in regards to domain names. They suggest that you use “WP” instead and if you already have a domain using the word, to purchase a new one and have the first domain redirected to the new compliant one.
What got me on the right path was a blog post that I read a couple of years ago (I wish I could find it again) about the way we use social media icons. I use to offer website design and one of the most popular requests was a “Follow Me” section in their sidebar. Basically it was cute and creative icons that linked to their social media profiles.
I use to search for the right icons that my clients would love. What I was doing was wrong. I never thought about what would happen if my clients got in trouble. If they have a lawyer, that lawyer would point the finger at me, their web designer. Since then I have decided that I will try my best to comply with every company’s branding rules because I would want the same done for my business.
So in the spirit of awareness, here’s links to the major social media sites and their branding guidelines.
What you should do when you want to use a brand’s logo or images
Before you do anything, always check the guidelines so you know what you can and cannot do. A lot of these companies don’t mind you using their logos because it keeps their brands out there but they don’t want it used incorrectly. Plus they provide you with files that you can download for web and print usage. Having access to those files will make your web/print designer very happy.
This is not limited to Social Media and Apps.
Here are three more real life examples of what to avoid when running an online business.
Shut down of an Etsy Shop:
A young lady’s Etsy shop was shut down for Trademark Infringement surrounding the misuse of the word “Facebook” and the trademarked letter “F”. Apparently Etsy sent out a warning email, she reached out to customer service but got no answer before her shop was closed. She wrote a detailed post about it but has since taken it down. In this case, Etsy was protecting themselves from any possible lawsuits from Facebook.
Trademark Infringement Lawsuit:
Chanel sued Shop Jeen over their perfume bottle iPhone covers (shown on the right) that resemble the actual Chanel perfume bottles. They are also suing a t-shirt company who used their famous double C logo in one of their shirts designs. Both cases are examples of trademark infringement. Although they may not go after everyone, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notice and make the necessary adjustments.
Beyonce vs. Feyonce
Everyone is making shirts with clever saying these days but you better be careful of what you put on it. Several people started selling coffee mugs and shirts with the phrase “Feyoncé” it them. It was brought to Beyonce’s attention somehow and she filed a trademark infringement suit against them. You have to be careful when it comes to trademarks………….Everyone is making shirts with clever saying these days but you better careful on what you put on it. Several people started selling coffee mugs and shirts with the phrase “Feyoncé” it them. It was brought to Beyonce’s attention some how and she filed a trademark infringement suit against them. You have to be careful when it comes to trademarks.