If you have a brand that you’re proud of, you want to show it off to your clients and competitors alike, whether it is through literature or advertising. But the easiest and most convenient way to display your company or business image is through the design of your website, application and icons.
1. Owning copyright means owning your identity
One way of stamping your identity through your website, is by having it specially designed to meet your particular needs and with your ideas and input. Most importantly, however, you should have copyright ownership of your icons and font.
Commissioning the new design of features such as icons and fonts is not a decision to be taken lightly. Properly thought out, these features can make a really big difference to your brand. After all your hard work and input into making your design features unique to your company, you don’t want to stumble upon your icons on a competitor’s site or application. Owning copyright means that the designers can’t simply ‘sell’ your icons to other people.
2. You can’t be sure who owns ‘free’ icons on the web
One of the main problems currently arising in graphic design is the mass availability of fonts and standard icon sets on the web. Why is this a problem? Because while they are very convenient to get hold of, they are stripping many websites of their unique identity, making each one look standard and generic.
Something else that might give you pause about using such icons found on the web is that you can’t really be sure whether they are free to use, as you never know who might own them. Working with designers to develop your own brand image and icon sets avoids this problem.
3. You don’t get into confusion further down the line
It is important to establish with your designers which of you is going to own the copyright of the finished product. This may seem like a trivial issue, and one you think you will never need to address, but there are reasons for it. One is that you cannot always guarantee that the design company you are working with will still be around a few months down the line. They may go into partnership with another company, or expand and be bought out by another firm. Or maybe you decide to use the services of another designer. Either way, you don’t want to get into a confusing situation where it turns out that the design of your website and all the fonts and icons that go with it don’t actually belong to you.
It has always been the case in English case law (also referred to as ‘common law’) that copyright remains in the hands of the author of the work, namely the designer or developer, unless there have been prior arrangements agreed between the parties. So basically, the creators own the work unless you get something in writing beforehand.
4. You are free to reproduce as you wish
When you own the copyright of design features like your icon sets, it allows you to take them apart and tweak them as you see fit, and suit them to different versions of your site – for example, for an international counterpart of your business. And you can comfortably reproduce them as you wish, whether you want to scale them down to a smaller size, or scale them up for use on your associated products. After all, shouldn’t you be able to do what you like with your icons!
Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…