Monday, 02 September 2019 11:15

Examining The Rich Energy Controversy As A Logo Design Company in Denver

If you’re a Formula One fan, then you’ve probably heard about the U.K. energy drink company, Rich Energy. More specifically, you’ve probably heard about their controversial logo. Rich Energy has gained notoriety this summer due to a copyright infringement claim against them. This controversy is one heck of a rabbit hole. The more you learn about it, the more mysterious and strange it becomes. As a leading logo design company in Denver, we wanted to examine the controversy and discuss how it could’ve been avoided.

First, The Context

Founded in 2015, Rich Energy has struggled to gain market share in the energy drink industry. The space is dominated by big name competitors, like Red Bull and Monster, making it hard for other energy drinks to succeed. To expand their market share and brand awareness, Rich Energy acquired a title sponsorship in the 2019 F1 season. They partnered with Haas, the only American team in Formula One racing. It was a promising partnership for Rich Energy, but trouble arrived quickly.

Whyte Bikes, a British bicycle company founded in 1994, took Rich Energy to court over their logo design. The bike company claimed that the Rich Energy logo was a copy of its own, and that it was being used without authorization. It’s an easy thing to overlook as a consumer, except when they’re side-by-side.

The F1 racing team, Haas, sporting the Rich Energy logo, prior to the controversy.
The F1 Haas car with Rich Energy branding, prior to the controversy. Photo courtesy of

It should come as no surprise that Whyte Bikes won their copyright infringement claim. Rich Energy was ordered to completely stop all usage of the stag logo by July 18. In addition, the company has been ordered to cover the legal costs of Whyte Bikes by July 11, totaling £35,416 (nearly $44,000). The fees have reportedly not been paid yet, which has forced Whyte Bikes to take further legal action.

You’d expect the tumultuous story of Rich Energy to end there, but it hasn’t. They’ve experienced some personal changes with the departure of their CEO. In an attempt to overcome this controversy, Rich Energy rebranded with a new name: “Lightning Volt Limited.” Real catchy, right?

It’s worth noting that (as of writing this article) their new name has yet to appear on their social media or website. As a logo design company in Denver that specializes in branding and rebranding, we wanted to learn everything about this case. There’s almost too much to unpack, though.

Thoughts From A Logo Design Company In Denver

Your business is only as legitimate as your brand. You need that legitimacy to build a trusting relationship with your consumers. Transparency and ethical standards are the keys to building that trust. Those things haven’t always come easily to Rich Energy.

They have not always been transparent about their business practices, available inventory, or funding. Despite consumer perception of the business at large, our logo design company in Denver was still curious as to how they created this replica logo. More specifically:

What exactly was their process?

The court documents give us a brief insight into their creative process. Rich Energy’s CEO William Storey outsourced the design to Sean Kelly’s small digital agency: Staxoweb. The documents state that Storey gathered “hundreds” of logos from internet searches and shared them with Kelly. This was supposed to be a “starting point.” However, this search for inspiration seemed to have gotten in the way of a wholly original logo. To make it worse, the defendants gave conflicting accounts of the creative process. It’s unclear if this logo design was a subconscious honest mistake or intentional plagiarism.

Regardless, this type of process opens a design firm up to some potential risks. Our logo design company in Denver has developed some terrific award-winning logos over the years. When we’re working with a client to develop an original logo and brand, we like to determine a conceptual direction first and let the meaning behind the logo act as inspiration.

As a leading logo design company in Denver, we take a thoughtful approach to logo design. When working on a logo, we employ a four-step process to arrive at the perfect design:

  • Brand Exploration

  • Logo Conceptualization

  • Design Mock-Ups

  • Final Touches and Decision

We first thoroughly analyze the business to understand their value proposition. This helps us develop a handful of logo concepts that align with the business and match their unique space in the market. From there, our graphic designer develops mockups for each concept and we arrive at a final logo. This process ensures the logo is authentic, creative, and wholly original.

Damaged Brands

In this story, the only winner is Whyte Bikes. Despite a potential future pay day, the brand has still been irreparably harmed by the controversy. The other brands (Rich Energy, Haas, and even Staxoweb) have undoubtedly damaged their reputations, as well. Negative publicity like this can undo years and years of hard work.

Even though the sponsorship deal has ended, Haas may struggle to regain popularity. Staxoweb may need to reevaluate how they design logos. Rich Energy, now Lightning Volt Limited, has a big hole to dig themselves out of.

On a positive note, they’ve already changed the logo!

The redesigned logo for Rich Energy/Lightning Volt Limited.
The rebranded logo for Rich Energy.

Branding Isn’t Just A Logo

It’s important to remember that branding is much more than your logo. It’s your name, your font, your colors, and your slogan. It’s comprehensive and it’s all connected. You can’t just slap a logo on a brand and hope it all works out. There has to be a visible connection between the logo and the rest of the branding.

We mention this because this controversy may get even more controversial soon. It’s been reported that Rich Energy (or Lightning Volt Limited) may have more legal issues due to their slogan. The slogan, which is still displayed on their website today, reads:

“Forget the wings, Rich Energy gives you horns.”

It’s a not-so-subtle jab at Red Bull. It may be too on-the-nose for Red Bull’s liking. It will certainly be interesting to see how this next case unfolds.

A screenshot of the Rich Energy website.
A screenshot of the Rich Energy website. The branding has been updated, but the slogan could be another potential copyright issue.

Avoid Copyright Infringement With A Professional Logo Design Company in Denver

Your business needs to stand out from the competition. A copyright claim is not the way you want to achieve that. Your logo is the perfect starting point to differentiate your business. Make sure you avoid legal problems with a professional brand, right from the get-go!

Ready to create your new logo? Contact FiG Advertising + Marketing today and start working with a top logo design company in Denver.