When it comes to marketing design on the internet, many online logo design companies have developed split personalities, pretending they’re someone else, located somewhere they’re not, and offering the exact same services for different pricing on different websites.
When it comes to designing your logo, you’re probably going to do what we all do when looking for anything these days. Search for a vendor online. Very cool. A link from somewhere else is probably how you found our site, and probably this very article. That’s how all this is supposed to work. The trouble is, selling online logo design services a very competitive business. It’s also a fairly lucrative one, if, that is, you can get enough eyes on your website. Or in the case of logo design sock puppetry, enough eyes on all of their websites. Having several different websites promoting one company ain’t a big deal in the online world. Everybody does it. It’s when a multitude of websites pretend to be promoting several different companies, that are really all the same company that things can get a little odd. When you factor in the lengths that these companies go to hide those connections, you’ve gotta be just a little concerned. Here’s why you should be concerned about hiring a sock puppet design firm to create your new company logo.
For some odd reason, a lot of folks from South East Asia who are selling online logo design services, are also heavily connected to questionable online college diplomas. Prefabricated college term papers. Student loans even. College affiliate revenues. Not sure what the connection is, save things that can be sold completely online, via the internet, without much in the way of oversight, or overhead. Such connections often have some comical results, especially when they use fake physical addresses to bolster their USA location bona fides. There’s a couple of sites, run by a huge IT company in Pakistan, that featured one such US address on their website. Trouble is, that address just happened to be an abandoned warehouse in Delaware (due to Delaware’s lax foreign corporation laws), and just happened to get shown on a CNN report about a fake diploma and University degree scandal that had blown up at the United Nations that resulted in some high-profile firings. The logo design sites changed the town listed on their website pretty damn fast, but the street address remains the same, rendering it moot.
How can you tell a sock puppet website? One such way is their phone number (if their site even bothers to list one in the first place). Websites are cheap. Toll free numbers, through US based VOIP modem phones aren’t, so a search of phone numbers will generally reveal connections with other sites. Often to phone numbers that are connected to spammers, as these VOIP numbers are recycled between customers. Trouble is, sock puppet sites are getting wise to this one, and are now featuring .gif phone number images to which search engine spiders are blind. But that’s okay. Most companies want their phone numbers to be picked up by search engines, so if the website you’re perusing has turned their phone number into an image, ask yourself ‘why did they turn their phone number into an image?’ Because they don’t want you to connect their various sock puppet sites is why.
Google Earth and its companion Street View are pretty cool too, and there’s quite a few logo design websites whose addresses are either empty fields or free-standing buildings that have nothing to do with logo design. I asked one site via chat window about their address being that of a stand-alone jewelry store, and they told me “we’re in the back”. Trouble is, there is no back, and the people in the jewelry store had never heard of the company. Funny enough, the jeweler told me, I wasn’t the first to ask. There’s another outfit who claims they’re a US based company with a Karachi office. As their Pennsylvania office consists of a couple of desks, while all their production is done in their Karachi facility, I’d argue they’re a Pakistan based company with a US office (their recent foray into the logo design contest & ‘crowdsourcing arena is being heavily promoted by a network of graphic design blogs, aimed at designers, that all deny connections to each other. The amount of logo raiding that forms most of the content for these blogs is astonishing). But it isn’t where these companies are located is the issue. It’s where they tell you they’re located, and the extreme lengths they’ll go to lie about it. Right to your face. Just business you say? Not where I’m from. I thought transparency was the key. We’d get more business if we pretended we were based in the US. It’s up to us to convince clients that a Canadian-based design shop can create decent logos.
Why is all this important? Here’s why. If the people behind a sock puppet logo website have no issue with lying to you about who they are and where they are, and what they’ve done, how does that square with their other website claims? When they say they’ll put five designers on your project will they really? Or will it be some poor solo Mac jockey, harried, overworked and underpaid, trying to keep up with a flood of website orders tossed on his workstation? When they say that all work is 100% custom, is it, or are you paying to look at designs that have been rejected from previous projects and assembled for your consideration because they sorta look like the stuff you asked for in your web brief? A frankensteined tinker-toy logo with your company name slapped across the bottom after thirty seconds of Adobe editing. And when they tell you about their unlimited revisions, are they really ‘unlimited’ (usually not) or do they pull the plug once your revision requests have taken your project into the non-profit area? See, buying stuff on on the internet is, to a great degree, based on trust. And if a company is willing to lie to you about such fundamentals as their own identity, the credibility of their entire pitch becomes suspect. It’s not often that folks who are lying to your face to get your money, will have an honesty epiphany when they get it. Cute little button eyes though.