So, you've started a business and you're thinking that you need some business cards so you can hand these out. You have a look around online and you find a cheap provider of business cards and you upload your logo, business card design with details and several days later they arrive. You hand out your business cards and decide that they aren't really working so you think, maybe I'll have a look at other designs offered by my provider to get some inspiration. As you are scrolling through the designs suddenly you see the exact design you uploaded...hang on...you created that design and now it is free for everyone to use? Sound familiar or did you just get a scare?
This is a technique that some web designers, printers and other creative platforms that use web based have been employing. It is a technique that allows these businesses to amass huge template / design libraries for very low effort and they do this by offering very cheap and / or free type terms to lure as many people into this unknowingly as they can. Ask yourself, if it seems too good to be true then is it likely that this is the case? Often the answer you will arrive at is yes because it is a tried and true statement. You are more likely to be protected by from this technique if you have a trademark which alot of businesses don't, they rely on copyright. However, under the terms and conditions of many of these services these companies build in clauses whereby you transfer rights / ownership to them, you forfeit your rights or they use an inherent loophole of passing the liability on to its clients who use the design. This seems unreasonable, unfair, unethical but in the end if you agree then you sign your rights away to get something for cheap or free then it can be argued by companies that use this technique that this is a fair trade and they are often offshore making legal avenues difficult.
So, what should you do if you need something free or cheap as you don't have much cash to spare? Well how about using their provided templates rather than changing them which is step one (1), as anything you do that is original is giving away work and material for free. Step two (2), seek consultation from a third party about what you could be signing away to marketing / printers / website providers that are very inexpensive. This consultation should also help to make sure you don't lock yourself into an arrangement that doesn't allow you to transition away from them later without incurring more cost than you need to. Step three (3), treat free or cheap providers as temporary, as staying with these providers long term causing you to forever be avoiding loss of design rights which could actually prevent your business from building a successful identity and stifle growth. Do yourself a favour at this point and make enquiries with local alternatives, ask how they operate, ask about lead times and rough costs using your cheap or free options as your basis to determine what you would be up for.
Ultimately ask yourself this, if it is cheap or free then how is this achieved and what am I giving up to get this. Everyone in business is doing the same thing, trying to make money and the people who charge for their services are more invested in doing a better job to keep you as a client through quality service and goods. It is also true that there are businesses out there that charge but don't deliver as promised but in the end, that is an issue with that business and how they operate. When you work with local businesses this gives the added advantage of allowing you to approach the business face to face if that is required. Online businesses very much like to operate with minimal customer contact allowing them have a sales base in your company but operate in another so resolving issues becomes a much greater challenge. Hopefully you feel more enlightened on this subject and less surprised if you see a design you uploaded free and available for anyone to use if you used one of these businesses.
If you would like to discuss your IT and marketing options relating to this subject then we are always happy to help. If you are interested in finding out more about what we can do for you then please feel free to visit our main website or contact us. Thank you for your time, for reading our blog post and it would be great if you feel the need to share or like our articles via one of our social media platforms with the @ActsIntuitively tag as applies.
Technical Services Manager
Bunbury, Western Australia
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