8 famous logos that look ridiculously similar
In design, originality is a hot topic. Obviously, obvious and intentional scams are widely condemned by the international creative community (in addition to being against trademark law, of course), but it’s not always so clear cut.
As Oscar Wilde once said, tongue in cheek: “Talent borrows, genius steals.” However, whether or not you intend to steal or copy, unless your logo design is extremely unusual or wacky, there will be someone somewhere who has had a similar idea, especially when it it’s about simple shapes, monograms and visual metaphors.
The skill of creating an original logo design is all about finding that differentiator – from a simple yet clever flourish to building a rich brand world in which the logo is just a small part. The other key consideration is whether similar logos occupy the same industry – W+K’s Formula 1 logo fell foul of compression tights maker 3M in 2018 because F1 also produces apparel, and the logos (above) were too similar to ignore.
Read on to find eight more logo pairs that bear striking similarities to each other…so much so that in some cases lawyers have stepped in. To create your own (unique) logo, check out our guide to designing a logo, and we also have some tips on how designers should deal with plagiarism here.
01. Airbnb vs. Azuma Drive-In
When DesignStudio announced its new Belo symbol for Airbnb in 2014, a symbol of “gathering together” and “belonging anywhere”, the internet went wild – comparing it to everything from Peter’s genitals to his chin. Griffin.
But it’s also drawn comparisons to other logos, from Habitat to Monocle magazine and, as Erik Spiekermann pointed out on Twitter at the time, lesser-known brands Automation Anywhere (which has since rebranded) and Network.
There might be something in the water: @Airbnb @n3tworkco pic.twitter.com/0ql3gWmyLnJuly 17, 2014
But look even deeper, and you’ll find an even more remarkably similar symbol used by a Japanese drive-in called Azuma, designed in 1975. Did DesignStudio rip off Azuma? We seriously doubt it – the symbol, drawn with a single flowing line, is simply too simple not to have been independently created before.
02. National Film Board vs. Virtual Global Taskforce
When it comes to visual metaphors, no matter how clever, there’s always a chance someone else has thought of them, but with a different meaning in mind.
In 1969, a giant eye, combined with a stick figure for the pupil to act as a head, formed the distinctive logo of the National Film Board of Canada. Known as ‘Man Seeing’, it was intended to symbolize a vision of humanity – and has since been reworked to more closely fit its modern logo.
Meanwhile, Virtual Global Taskforce – an organization that fights online child sexual abuse – has come up with a remarkably similar visual representation for its rather different line of business, depicting an all-seeing eye wandering the internet and watching on children. Coincidence? Well yes. Presumably.
03. Starbucks vs. Starpreya
Then we come to a David vs. Goliath-style clash of similar logos in the same industry: global coffee giant Starbucks, born in Seattle, and Elpreya, a relatively small South Korean company that sells coffee under the Starpreya brand – a name derived from the Norse Goddess Freja.
Elpreya began marketing in 1999, the same year Starbucks opened its first South Korean store. Both brands featured the brand name wrapped around a green circle and a female figure in the center, white on a black background. And more importantly, they both sold coffee.
Starbucks alleged copyright infringement, but the Korean Intellectual Property Court disagreed, arguing that the marks were too dissimilar to be confused. How impartial the Tribunal is is another matter – but the outsider won this time. In 2011, with Lippincott’s help, Starbucks then ditched its green circle and made the mermaid an even more distinctive and owned brand asset.
04. Ubuntu Against Human Rights First
Much like the eye with legs in our second example, the remarkable similarity between these logos for radically different companies can certainly be attributed to the universal nature of certain visual metaphors.
Ubuntu is an open source software operating system, while Human Rights Foundation (hrf) does as the name suggests. What they have in common is that communities work together towards a common goal, and the simple graphic representation of a circle of people joining hands expresses this equally well in both sectors.
05. Gucci versus Chanel
Monograms are common in the world of fashion logos, so it’s no surprise that two major high fashion brands have found common ground when it comes to interlocking similarly shaped typefaces.
It doesn’t help that the two “G”s for Gucci and the two “Cs” for Chanel are both based on a geometric typeface, because you essentially end up with overlapping circles at the heart of the logo. But there are notable differences: the G’s face inward, while the C’s face back to back. Gucci uses a thinner line thickness and the logo is also used smaller compared to the wordmark than Chanel.
Gucci has had bigger concerns than Chanel in recent years, though: its nine-year legal battle with Guess over its own interpretation of the interlocking Gs (in this case, four rather than two), as well as other alleged design knockoffs. , has finally come to an end. an end in 2018 with an undisclosed deal.
06. Beats by Dre versus Stadt Brühl
We’ll be brief with this one. While common ground is likely to be found with monogram logos, when a business uses a single letter to represent itself, it is inevitable that there will be a coincidentally similar logo in another industry.
Such is the case with the Beats by Dre logo, which is a lowercase “b” in Bauhaus typeface inside a circle, to resemble headphones. Is it surprisingly similar to Anton Stankowski’s 1971 identity for the city of Stadt Brühl? Well, yes, but that seems like an unlikely source of inspiration.
07. Sun Microsystems vs. Columbia Sportswear
Designed by computer science professor Vaughan Pratt in the 1980s, Sun Microsystems’ logo is a “rotationally symmetric chain ambigram” – which, in layman’s terms, means it reads “sun” regardless of the way you rotate it.
On a brutally simple level, if you squint and ignore this all-important graphic flourish, the Columbia Sportswear logo is certainly similar. It is formed of interlocking shapes with rounded ends, turned at the same angle, and is usually interlocked with the wordmark on the left side, at the same scale.
Columbia’s stylized interlocking shapes symbolize a textile weave pattern, but the logo lacks the smart touch that takes Sun’s logo to the next level. This twist also allowed the Sun logo to stand the test of time until the company was acquired by Oracle in 2010.
08. PayPal vs. Pandora
We end with another battle between similar logos that ended up involving lawyers – and proves that the one-size-fits-all approach of using a single letter to represent your brand isn’t necessarily safe territory after all, especially if it’s there is more than one similarity with your logo and that of another brand.
When music streaming service Pandora unveiled its logo in 2016, with a filled-in meter in its cyan-colored “P” letter, PayPal wasn’t happy. Its two overlapping blue Ps, both sporting filled-in counters, certainly had some striking similarities – especially when viewed small as an app icon.
Indeed, as part of its lawsuit in 2017, PayPal submitted more than 100 pages of social media posts from confused users between the two apps. A settlement was agreed and three months later a new, jazzy, multicolored Pandora logo was rolled out – the same outline shape with a filled counter, but decorated with wavy lines that added purple, red and orange to the original blue. .