Brand Theft: One of these is a lot like the other.

Is Facebook’s Calibra logo a result of brand theft, or coincidence?

One of the first rules we learn in school is to never copy from someone else’s work, and in advertising, that includes avoiding brand theft. In a world though, that seems to be getting smaller every day, it’s hard not to notice when a global brands new logo fails to be original. The company in question is Facebook and its financial services subsidiary called Calibra.

According to Facebook, Calibra was formed to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network – a network based on the use of their new digital currency.

While still in the developmental stage, Calibra is sure to have its proponents and detractors, but we are not here to discuss Facebook’s attempt to reinvent the world’s financial system. Instead, we are here to discuss their logo, and the striking similarities it has to an online bank called Current.

Brand Theft
Screenshot from Currents Twitter page

Current began as a debit card and app for teens that gave parents a way to administer and track funds based on the completion of tasks. Over time, Current added to its financial services and began to resemble a more traditional online bank. 

According to Stuart Sopp in an interview with Hugh Son of CNBC, “This is a funny way to try and create trust in a new global financial system – by ripping off another fintech firm. Facebook has all the money and resources in the world. If they truly wanted to make banking more inclusive and fair, they should’ve come up with their own ideas and branding, like we have.”

Sopp isn’t wrong.

Whether it’s through arrogance, ignorance, or laziness, Facebook and its design team should know better than to copy from someone else’s work, particularly at this level.

But here is the interesting part of this whole mess: Facebook used the same San Francisco-based design firm as Current to develop its Calibra Identity. Yes, you heard that right; the exact same design firm designed both logos in question.

Conspiracies and issues of brand theft aside, I am sure there is some logical explanation for how this potential brand theft could have happened, but for now, your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps it was just a lack of due diligence, but again, at this level that is hard to fathom.

The truth is that a simple search on the Internet will show a multitude of similar marks. It happens, whether it’s the result of a stolen identity or just coincidence. But when similar designs are found to represent the same categories of business? Well, like the great Connor MacLeod said, “There can be only one”.

Sopp ended his interview with CNBC by saying that he sent a direct message to Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss via twitter stating, “Now I know how you guys felt”

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RUSSO is a strategic branding agency that uses consumer insight to change the conversation; forming emotional connections with the target audience. To learn more, click HERE to learn more about our process, RAZOR BRANDING.

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