Teasing news of an upcoming logo is a great way to create buzz. But as the Western Bulldogs brand flap illustrates, it’s probably best to keep your new brand identity under wraps until you’re ready for full bore implementation.

Otherwise, you may have your lovely new mark sniped from under you. A couple of days ago in our random design goodness feature, I told you that we were reluctant to post, tease or leak client material in our logo design gallery (or otherwise) until it had been locked down, or at least released into the wild by the client themselves. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that when logos are tossed willy-nilly onto the internet, they’re vulnerable to getting knocked off PDQ. Sure, showing off our upcoming new logos is fun and all, but if they’re not at least moderately protected, we run the risk of them getting snapped up by folks who are, to be charitable, ethically challenged. Then we get to play a game of “who’s the chicken, who’s the egg?” in order to wrestle rightful ownership back and to stop the usurper from using our stuff to promote their stuff. This is a real and ongoing issue for designers and design buyers alike, has been for a while now and yep, it’s even happened to us when we were a little hasty in teasing some internal logos and WIP logo projects. Which brings us to today, on Twitter, when a story broke out that illustrated this position quite succinctly.

Out with the old. In with the new

Our tale features two players – The Mornington Cricket Club a Melbourne-based organization that’s been around for over a hundred years, and the Western Bulldogs, an Australian football team, also known as the Footscray Football Club and also from Melbourne. They’re no youngsters themselves, having been around in one form or another since 1877. For several years, the Bulldogs’ logo (referred both affectionately and disparagingly as RoboDog) looked like this:

robodog logo western bulldogs
Rumors about an upcoming Bulldogs’ brand change had been swirling for a while, and a newish design had even been spotted in the wild:

Today it was made official and our story begins with this Tweet – a football organization genuinely proud of their new logo.

That tweet was followed up by an explanation of the rationale behind the new design:

Good stuff I suppose. Trouble was, some people noticed startling similarities with another logo, namely the Mornington Cricket Club, also from Melbourne. First up, Melbourne news radio guy Tom Elliot who questioned which logo was the chicken, which one was the egg.

Then by 3AW, the radio station Elliot works at, itself. They asserted that the similarities between the two logos (they’re carbon copies actually) couldn’t be some random coincidence:

The radio station Twitter account has over 50,000 followers. All of whom were told that there was some weirdness about the new logo. That led to questions about logo theft:

What’s the skinny? A quick look around found that the Mornington Cricket Club had used the logo at least as early as last year, as evidenced by this 2013 invite for their gala 150th anniversary event in November. Their logo even features a cricket ball:
mornington cricket club invitation

Pretty damning stuff. Twitter folks let the Bulldogs know they were on to them:

More confusion followed:

And so on:

Here’s what we’ve got so far: The Western Bulldogs announced their new logo today. That announcement was marred by, at the very least confusion, at the very worst, accusations of plagiarism and what should have been a groovy PR exercise, was quickly turning sour. The evidence appeared to be damning. The Mornington Cricket Club – an organization that’s been around since 1863 – had used the exact same logo last year, long before the Bulldogs’ announcement. It appeared to be a case of fait accompli, everything pointing to the Western Bulldogs having knocked off Mornington, right? Nope. It’s actually the other way around. See, the new Western Bulldog’s logo was registered for Trademark status back in June of 2012.

By the Western Bulldogs themselves.

western bulldogs trademark
So what happened? Looks like the Western Bulldogs sat on their new logo for two years, during which it was found and knocked off by at least one party. Where did they get the image to copy? The logo was leaked onto a football forum back in June of 2012:

And there you have it. A shining example of why you should never tease your logo until you’re completely ready to use it. And use it hard (guess I should have thought twice before hitting the publish button on Monday’s Logopalooza 3 redesign post.) I get that you want to reveal your new brand to the world as soon as it’s completed, but in reality it may be days, weeks or even months before you launch proper, or completely make the switchover if it’s a rebrand.
mornington cricket club website with Robodog logo
What about the Mornington Cricket club you may ask? At some point during the Twitter hubbub, they quietly removed their version of the Western Bulldogs’ new logo. And replaced it with RoboDog – the old one.

Guess you can’t teach an old dog, bulldog or not, new tricks.