Media, merch & downloads

Morgue files FAQ

Frequently asked questions about our free logo downloads


With the update of our web site to V 5.0, The Logo Factory┬« opened up our Morgue Files for download via our web site. Available in both PDF and .EPS formats, these designs are perfect for trying your hand at do it yourself logo design or using our design ‘off casts’ as a starting point to a more custom logo design solution. While we’d be glad to help you with a ‘from scratch’ brand development as a client of our studio, if you’re short on budget and okay with using pre-designed material, why should you pay for clip art? So what’s the catch? There isn’t one. Here’s some questions that we regularly get asked about our Morgue Files, their application and why our shop is releasing some of our best work into the wild.

Q: Why call this collection ‘The Morgue Files’?
And the ‘toe tag’ photo – isn’t that a bit macabre?

A: Probably is. Though we certainly didn’t come up with the concept. Morgue Files is actually a newspaper term that refers to ‘dead material’ – stories, interviews and photographs – that are perfectly serviceable but not usable for one reason or another. Newspaper staffers use their Morgue Files as a source of research and to find photography that may fit a story that is unrelated to the story that the material was originally created for. In the old days, Morgue Files could be found in dusty file cabinets in the basement, but in this digital age they’re just as likely to be found on computer hard drives. This seemed a perfectly logical extension for The Logo Factory (we’ve referred to old hard drives as ‘The Morgue’ for years ) and when we decided to release free vector logos into the wild, the name stuck. As with everything at the studio, we needed a Morgue File ‘brand’ so we used a fantastic stock photo from istock as the lead image. Pretty graphic but we think it gets the idea across.

Q: Are the logos featured really free?

Q: Yep. Free. Nada. Zilch. Download and use our free design offerings without forking over a penny. Of course, if you’re looking for a more custom solution, we hope you’d considering hiring The Logo Factory, but our Morgue Files are available without charge.

Q: Can I use any of the material as my own logo?

A: Yes. While it’s not something we recommend – always better to go with a ‘from scratch’ solution – our Morgue Files are set up so that you can use the artwork as your logo, or as a starting point for your new logo. There are some usage caveats that you should be aware of (see here for the terms of use) but in actual terms, any of our Morgue Files can be used for your new logo. Keep in mind that others will be using the same logo so it’s probably advisable that you perform some form of customization in order to be as unique as possible.

Q: Are these logos close, or similar, to the final logos from the same project?

A: No. None of the logos featured are similar to finalized client projects. The logos featured in our Morgue Files are a mixed bag and not all are even from client projects. While some are discarded material from real jobs, many of the designs featured are from internal work, or long-passed self-promotion pieces. Others are random doodling’s and material created by our designers to keep their skills sharp (as outlined in our designing consistently great logos blog post). There are no instances when you will find material that’s even close to the logos that our clients have finalized. Clients generally don’t mind us giving this material away as they rejected it in the first place, and they’re more than happy with the logo they finalized with. If it wasn’t for our Morgue Files feature, this great artwork (and some not so great) would sit around the studio collecting dust (as per our terms and conditions, The Logo Factory retains ownership of artwork that is not selected by the client at the end of a project). In most cases, we’ve removed the name of the client so they can’t be identified, and in cases where the logo does feature an actual client name, we’ve asked their permission. It’s all on the up-and-up.

Q: Can I trademark any of the logos I download?

A: No. In order to release these files, we’ll grant you a limited license to use the material forever, but you cannot establish ownership rights above that which The Logo Factory retains. You can use the material as your logo (not that we recommend it) but you cannot establish trademark rights as we still retain some ownership on the material. Also, as our Morgue Files section is quite popular, the material you download may also be in use by others so it’s fairer that nobody can establish trademark rights.

Q: Can I purchase exclusive rights to one of the Morgue File logos?

A: No. As the logos in our Morgue Files are free, they tend to get downloaded a lot. So, it’s highly likely that even if you wanted to purchase the exclusive rights to one of the designs, someone else would be using it already, having downloaded it earlier. It wouldn’t be fair to you to sell you something that isn’t we can’t guarantee. If you’re really interested, we can design a logo that’s similar (as part of a logo design package through our studio) or you can check out our Logos in a Box stock logos inventory for logos that are only available as one-time outright purchases with full customization.

Q: I’m a designer, Can I sell any of these logos to my clients?

A: No. You can certainly use the material as part of a design project and then sell that work, but you’re not permitted to sell Morgue File logos direct to your client or other third party. As part of the conditions under which we’ve been able to make these files available, you can’t develop ownership rights to the work (other than the limited license we grant you), so you can’t really sell what you don’t have. It also wouldn’t be fair, especially if you’re supposed to be delivering original logos as part of your agreements.

Q: Can I offer this material for download off my site?

A: No. As part of the terms of use for Morgue FIles you’re not permitted to add this work to stock or template collections and that would include web site archives where people can access the material on your site. You are, however, welcome to link to this section of our site should you feel that this resource might be valuable to your visitors.

Q: Why are you releasing this material?

A: Over the course of our studio’s history, we’ve developed thousands of logos, icons and illustrations that were never selected by our clients. We also worked up concepts and ideas just for the fun of it and it always seemed a shame that no-one was using this material. What to do? Other design companies will sometimes sell you their design off casts – either passing them off as new custom work (at the studio, we refer to that as ‘recycling) or selling you their own version of Morgue Files (they’ll refer to it as logo templates). At the studio we always felt that both these practices were, to be charitable, a little shady. Stock logos are one thing (where you buy the rights to a logo outright or they’re managed to a limited number of users) but so-called ‘logo templates’ (where you’ll pay to use a image as your logo but others are also using it) always seemed a little troubling to the gang at the shop. And let’s be honest, not all our Morgue Files are ‘perfect’ works of art (unlike logo templates, we’re up front about it). No real surprise – some have been rejected at one point or another (sometimes with good reason) and rather than try to convince you that these rejected logos are ‘all that’ we’d rather give them away for free. That way, you can make as much, or as little, about the designs as you want. And we can show off our rejected designs to the world.

Q: Do you offer technical support for Morgue File artwork?

A: No. Unfortunately, as The Logo Factory is a very busy studio, we cannot offer any technical support for this free material and have to reserve our finite support hours for paying clients. You can, however, explore our design help center and technical sections where you’ll probably find the answer. If you’re really stuck (and it’s extremely critical), you can always hire a local designer to help you out. Conversely, we can help you with any of your design needs, but we’d have to bill you as a client. Our Morgue Files are mostly for do-it-yourself designers and students.

Q: What format is this artwork available in?

A: All our Morgue File designs can be downloaded in either editable .PDF or Adobe Illustrator .EPS formats. (larger files may be compressed into ZIP files). If you want to edit the material, you’ll need professional design software to do so. See our library for more on logo file formats and how you can edit and convert material once you’ve downloaded it. Please note – NONE of the files available are in bitmap formats.

Q: How often do you upload new free logos?

A: We try to update our Morgue Files once every few weeks (though, with our busy schedule that’s not always possible). Logos also ‘scroll off’ – that is, after about a few months or so, the downloads for any particular Morgue File is no longer available. This helps keep our material relatively fresh, as unique as possible for people that do download the logos and helps keep the strain on our servers – already maxed out due to heavy graphics – to a minimum.