12 Copycat Logos: Coincidence or Strategy?

Have you ever noticed that some logos are just way too similar to each other? You may think the design team got a bit lazy and just stole each other’s ideas, but, the truth is, more nuanced. While sometimes these similar logos happen on purpose to evoke emotional responses associated with the more well-known brand, sometimes it’s just a coincidence. 

But, whether intentional or not,  it’s important to make sure your logo is original and doesn’t infringe on others’ intellectual property rights.  Plus, similarity across logos can lead to confusion. To avoid these issues, it’s important for brands to prioritize originality and creativity in their logo design.

To shed light on this topic, we’ve rounded up six pairs of famous companies with very similar logos. By examining the origin of each design, we will delve into the reasons behind the similarity and determine whether it was intentional or accidental. 

Kia vs Nine Inch Nails

The Nine Inch Nails logo and the Kia logo both feature a stylized, futuristic letter “N” in black and white typography as the main visual element. The Nine Inch Nails logo is iconic, viewed fondly and represents the industrial and alternative rock genre. The Kia logo, redone in 2021, has the “N” following a similarly styled “K” in a bid to modernize the brand. The redesign, however, has received negative feedback for causing confusion, leading to 30,000 monthly searches for “what is the KN car company.”  While the Kia logo seems to have missed the mark compared to the well-received Nine Inch Nails logo, it doesn’t seem like the similarity was intentional.  

Walgreens  vs Washington Nationals 

One of the most well-documented instances of logo mimicry is between the M.L.B.’s Washington Nationals and the drugstore chain Walgreens.  Both feature swooping red “W’s” on white backgrounds. The Walgreens logo was introduced in the 1950s while the stylized W used by the Washington Senators, which was later adopted by the Nationals  after its move to DC in 2005, was originally designed in 1963. Despite the similarities, no legal action has been taken by Walgreens against the baseball team, likely due to the different industries in which they operate. And, when people tattoo that curly “W” on their arm, they’re probably not professing their love for Walgreens.  

Genesis vs Bentley 

If you’ve ever done a double take wondering why the logo on your $55,000 Hyundai Genesis looks the same as the one on the $180,000 Bentley driving in the next lane, you could easily be forgiven.  The Bentley logo is a well-known and iconic symbol in the luxury automobile industry. The logo features two overlapping wings in a stylized “B” shape, symbolizing the brand’s speed and power. The Bentley logo is widely recognized and associated with high-end luxury cars, and it continues to be a highly valued symbol of the brand’s heritage and excellence.  Perhaps this is why Hyundai chose to mimic it when it launched its new high-end Genesis car line in 2015.  LIke the Bently logo, it features a stylized letter – in this case a “G” –  in a sleek, wing-like shape. The logo is presented in a hexagonal frame and is meant to represent the brand’s focus on luxury and innovation. 

Atlanta Braves vs Alabama Crimson Tide

Continuing the trend of type based look-alike logos, the Atlanta Braves MLB baseball team and the Alabama college football team are nearly identical.   Both have red cursive “A”s but the Atlanta Braves’ logo was created first.  It was first introduced in 1965, when the team moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. The Alabama football team’s logo was created in 1976 and adjusted in 2002, supposedly at the request of Atlanta to differentiate the two logos. Despite their similarities, confusion between the two is rare as the Braves are a nationally recognized baseball team and Alabama is a college football team.  

Beverly Hills Polo Club vs Ralph Lauren 

Next up we have The Beverly Hills Polo Club and Ralph Lauren logos. Both feature a polo player in action, embodying the luxury and elegance of the sport of polo. The Beverly Hills Polo Club logo features a stylized player in mid-swing, while the Ralph Lauren logo features a more realistic player, with a more defined horse and rider. Despite the similarities, the Ralph Lauren logo has a much longer history, having been established in the 1970s. It is also more recognizable globally.  But, we can’t help but think that the Beverly HIlls Polo Club welcomed the brand association with Ralph Lauren when they developed their logo.  

Reebok vs Spacex

And finally we have Reebok, the classic athletic shoe company from Britain and Spacex, Elon Musk’s rocket company whose mission is to colonize Mars.  While at face value very different companies, the themes both are trying to convey are surprisingly similar.  With its bold font followed by three arcing trapezoids, Reebok’s logo is intended to symbolize its focus on how technology and exercise enable social, mental, and physical transformation.  Similarly, the Spacex logo features the company’s name with a stylized X, which resembles Reebok’s design mark, but is intended to mimic the trajectory of a rocket blasting off into deep space.  So while the companies are operating in very different industries, they both are shooting to convey pretty audacious brand identities with their logo designs.   

Originality in Logo Design

So, as you can see, logo design is a crucial aspect of a company’s branding strategy and it is not uncommon for multiple brands to have similar logos. This can happen due to a shared cultural context, the prevalence of certain design elements, or the influence of popular brands. However, the use of similar logos can also lead to legal disputes or consumer confusion. On a lighter note, when logos can be mistaken for each other, it can also lead to fun social memes. In spite of this, it is important for companies to consider the impact their logo design will have on their brand image and ensure that their design is unique and distinguishes them from their competitors.

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