Are independent and unbiased logo review sites as independent and unbiased as they claim? Or simply websites owned by logo design companies in a cynical attempt to boost their own profile? Sadly, it would appear that it’s the latter. A look at logo review sites and their often startling connections to Logo Design Guru and their Karachi based ‘back office’ Right Solution.
Almost ten years ago, at the beginning of the last recession and when activity at the shop had slowed down, we were having one of our regularly scheduled brain trusts, trying to figure out ways to gin up business. One of the ideas bandied about was starting up a logo design review site. Ruthlessly nasty idea that. Here was the pitch – we’d set us a site where we’d take a look at other logo companies, point out their weaknesses, (translation – trash talk ‘em) while extolling the virtues of our own. Even registered a cool domain – e-brandreview.com and worked up some nifty graphics, though the designer behind them had a twisted sense of humor and added ‘Your Company Sucks, Ours Rocks!‘ type to all the banner graphics.
We wouldn’t want to be connected to the site, as these things are supposed to be ‘unbiased’ if they’re to have any merit at all, so we’d have to keep ownership on the DL. Plastering The Logo Factory all over a review site – especially when the reviews of our company were going to be stellar – wouldn’t be too cool. Alas, our ethics and conscience got in the way and the idea was scrapped (though we still have the domain) as the whole idea was shady, a tad underhanded and well, just not nice. It certainly wasn’t something I would have been proud of, and while it certainly would have given us a little business ‘juice’, at the end of the day, selling out to such elcheapo tactics wasn’t what my little design company was supposed to be about. We had pushed professional design over gimmicky online logo design tactics since our inception, and that’s the way we’d have to forge ahead. For better, or as is often the case when taking principled stands, for worse. Which brings us to today’s story – the rise of so-called logo design review sites which claim to offer ‘unbiased’ reviews of logo design companies and their services. Are they unbiased? Good question. Better still – are they even legit?
The review site that’s currently parked in the #8 spot for a Google ‘logo design’ search is some outfit called Logoblog.org. No real information about the site, or who’s behind it, despite being self-appointed logo experts, a position that usually involves the presentation of credentials and qualifications. According to a Whois search, the site is registered to someone called Hala Ali, hailing from Karachi, Pakistan. Why Mr. Ali has such an interest in logo design is anyone’s guess, as is why someone would spend so much time (and money) reviewing logo design websites without, as the site claims, an axe to grind. Or any apparent way of making revenue from their efforts.
Logoblog.org offers a rating system for logo companies (we currently sit at number 6, with 3 stars out of 5, though I suspect that’ll go down once this hits the wires). The top ranked site – Logo Design Guru – is the grand-daddy of ‘em all, ranking a whopping, and almost perfect, 4.93 stars out of five, while some outfit called Logo Design Team is a distant second place with 3.93 stars out of five. Montreal’s Logo Bee rounds out the top three with 3.89 stars.
According to their About Us page, logoblog.org offers ‘ubiased, reliable and independent user based reviews and advice about Logos, and Logo Design Companies.’ Gonna ask you to remember all of this while we take a look at another logo review site – this time some outfit with a website at companylogos.ws who also claim, among other things, to offer unbiased reviews of logo design companies (and a mess of artwork pinched from our site, but we’ll save that for another time).
No idea what ‘logo design experts’ are doing the reviewing but once again, Logo Design Guru scores high – this time five out of five stars – while our humble shop (still named one of the top five logo companies on the interwebs) scores a lowly two out of five (what does a cat have to do to get a break?). I’d find the companylogos.ws five star rating for Logo Design Guru a lot more credible if there wasn’t a ‘Order Your Logo Now With Logo Design Guru‘ affiliate link on the bottom of every page (to be fair, the site also has Commission Junction affiliate links and coupon codes to the all of the other ‘reviewed’ sites, except for The Logo Factory – we don’t use affiliates – which might go a long way to explain our dismal ‘review’).
I used to think that making money off a company that you’re also reviewing negates the idea of unbiased reviews, but I guess that’s a personal quirk that I’ll have to get over. Amazingly, companylogos.ws also reviews logo directory sites (huh?), only managed to find three (there are thousands) and gives top rankings to – quell surprise – logoblog.org and features two other sites, one of which is nothing more than a rough mock-up holding page. So much for accuracy I guess (though it looks like yet another ‘logo design review’ site is coming down the pike).
None of this is a big deal until we realize that logoblog.org and companylogos.ws are hosted by the same outfit in Texas. Other than a major-league coinky-dink, that still might not raise eyebrows until we take a look at another logo design company website – some outfit called corporatelogos.ws – who just happen to be hosted by the same company as both the ‘unbiased’ logoblog.org and companylogos.ws. Odder still, corporatelogos.ws is even located in the same IP range as logoblog.org. Other than lottery-level coincidence (and an apparent world-wide shortage of web hosts for logo design sites), why is that of any interest? Well, if you take a look at corporateLogos.ws contact page, you’ll realize that this site is Logo Design Guru with a the website version of a vehicle wrap. Same number. Same address. Same pricing structure. Terms and conditions refer to LDG. The site even links to LDG‘s main site when you request a lost password. A quick look at their blog removes any doubt.
Nothing wrong with that per se (other than an apparent aversion to branding and name recognition, odd for a logo design company), but here we have two ‘unbiased’ logo review websites, both giving Logo Design Guru better part of five out of five stars (while trash talking the competition) and an LDG ‘love child’ website. All three are hosted by the same company, while one of the ‘review’ sites is practically sitting on the same server as a Logo Design Guru vehicle-wrapped site. And that LDG ‘love child’ just happens to rate a remarkable 4 out of five stars on that review site – the fourth highest rating in the supposedly ‘unbiased’ reviews and higher than nine of the ‘top ten logo design companies’. We’re now wandering into epic coincidence territory and I gotta admit, starting to look a little sketchy in the unbiased department, but maybe – just maybe – it’s still chance and happenstance. So I figured I’d reach out and touch.
Logoblog.org has a handy web form through which one can ‘submit your information to be contacted by a reputable firm’. After doing my little Whois IP# detective work, and even though I’m usually not a betting man, I would have bet a hefty sum that I’d be contacted by Logo Design Guru when I sent in the request (under an assumed name). And I was when I did. Some lovely lady called Lauren, a sales rep from LDG, sent me a Logo Design Guru price list, and all sorts of helpful information that extolled the virtues of ponying up with LDG when I was ready to hire a designer.
I wanted to know more about how this logoblog.org thing worked, so I suggested to Lauren that I was kind of waiting for other quotes, from other ‘reputable firms’ and wondered if any would be forthcoming. She replied back, telling me that she wasn’t “sure how www.logoblog.org operates” and that she was “under the impression that LogoBlog is a public forum for people to discuss their experiences with logo design companies“.
Fair enough I suppose, but I’m left wondering how Logo Design Guru got my request submitted through logoblog.org and why the people who do know have left poor Lauren out of the loop. The luck of the draw? Perhaps. So I asked someone (the missus) to submit another form. Using her name. From another e-mail address and IP#. Well, I’ll be. Lauren from LDG again, sending straight from the Logo Design Guru mailserver. This time she seems to know a little more about logoblog.org, beginning her lengthy e-mail pitch thusly – “One of our affiliates, Logo Blog, mentioned you were inquiring about logo design services.” Roh-oh. Apparently, and at the very least, logoblog.org is an ‘affiliate’ of Logo Design Guru. Guess that dispenses with the ‘ubiased, reliable and independent’ reviews bit. Goes a long way to explaining why Logo Design Guru‘s small business blog links to the logoblog.org site. On every single page.
As weird as it looks, I’m sure there’s some perfectly rational explanation so in the interest of fairness, I decided to ask. Using Lauren’s description, and their website contact form, I sent the nice people at logoblog.org this message -
Sorry to bother you, but I was just wondering this – if you’re an ‘affiliate’ of Logo Design Guru and (one supposes) their various websites, don’t you think that this should be announced to the buying-public up front? Neglecting to reveal that information might be viewed by some consumers as unethical, especially since ALL the Logo Design Guru owned sites get exceptionally high rankings (from what I can see, Logo Design Guru websites are number 1, 3 and 4 respectively) on a site that claims ‘unbiased and independent’ reviews? I notice that LDG’s closest competitor Logoworks only receives 2.38 stars out of five, a pretty crappy rating (second lowest) that seems inconsistent with what I know about the company. According to your site, Logoworks can do no right, while Logo Design Guru can do no wrong. That might be seen as ‘odd’ and a little shady when one considers there are numerous connections between Logoblog.org and Logo Design Guru. As you claim (on your about us page) to be “concerned with the excellence of the logo design services provided by the logo design companies to their customers”, might it not be valuable to know if you have some very real (and financially beneficial) connections to one of those companies? I realize you’re not obliged to do so, but I’d really appreciate a response.
Surprisingly, I never got an answer. Accordingly, we’re left with the notion that either LDG, and anything they touch is golden, or there’s some weirdness emanating from a server block in Texas. Now I’m not saying that Logo Design Guru is shilling as logoblog.org to hype their company and it’s various ‘love child’ websites. Or that they’re taking the opportunity to trash-talk companies they see as competition (taking a look – 3 out of 5 stars and holding).
Nor am I saying Logo Design Guru‘s self-described ‘back office‘, Pakistan-based Right Solution, is shilling as some ‘independent’ logo review site in order to push their design ventures, which, according to their website, includes Logo Design Guru. Though some might find it odd that Hala Ali (you may remember him – he’s listed as the Karachi-based registrant of logoblog.org) just happens to be Karachi-based Right Solution‘s Customer Relationship Manager. And I guess if a neighbor of Mr. Ali, some Karachi-based web developer, features both the Logo Design Guru and logoblog.org websites on his resume, it shouldn’t be taken to mean anything at all. Nor should the resume of this nice man, who lists designing logoblog.org for Right Solution as one of his more notable achievements.
Nosiree, I’m sure the Logo Design Guru blokes are wonderful and above such antics. Cause as we figured out almost ten years ago, trying to foist ‘unbiased’ reviews that are decidedly, well, biased, would be off-the-charts unethical, downright sneaky and one would think, below such a reputable company.
Apparently we got something wrong when we first published this article and should probably do a little house cleaning. Seems Hala Ali isn’t a he, but a she. Married to Zaheer Dodhia, one of the blokes (along with a Joe Witte) behind Logo Design Guru. Oh, let’s not be coy. He’s the CEO of Guru Corporation, the outfit who owns Logo Design Guru. He also started Right Solution, the company behind most of the sites mentioned above. That should clear any loose ends up. As of yet, and despite being asked several times to take it off since this was published, our work is still on the companylogos.ws website. For some reason, they’ve also started to refer to us as ‘partners’ which is sorta odd. Because we’re not. Also ended up having a nasty little skirmish with these cats, a year-and-a-half after this was published. You can read about that in our Dear Nora Reed open letter.
- Logo review sites. Part deux
- Yet another logo design review site
- Snippets: Crowdsourcing advice for designers, IE6 must die & more unbiased logo reviews
- Children designers on design contest & crowdsourcing sites?
- Are logo design contest sites even legal?