Can I use an existing font in a wordmark logo?

Designers may use a third party typeface as the basis of a wordmark logo design if the font license allows it, but the letters must be adequately customized. Even if the font license does not require purchase or appears to permit its unmodified use in wordmark logos, 99designs requires wordmark logos to be original.

What is a wordmark logo?

A wordmark logo is a text-only design that features the brand name with customized typography. While these logos do not have a main pictorial mark, they may contain ornamental lines, a frame or smaller illustrative elements.

Generally, if the brand name makes up the majority of a logo design, it is considered a wordmark on 99designs and will be required to have original lettering or custom changes made to the lettering of an existing typeface.

Why do I need to modify the typeface in a wordmark logo?

Fonts are third party design elements whose licenses typically do not permit designers to use them as logos by themselves (although they may be incorporated into other types of logos besides wordmarks—check the license to be sure). If you create a wordmark without customizing the typeface, it will be considered copyright infringement and could subject the client and designer to legal ramifications.

99designs requires all logo designs to be original. This means that even if the font license allows unmodified use for logos, designers are expected to provide a customized wordmark while participating on 99designs.

How much customization does a typeface need?


Ultimately, this can be subjective, and 99designs staff will make the final ruling in dispute cases. To prevent any copyright confusion, we advise designers to avoid creating wordmarks that are so close to the original font that they require a review by our staff.

In addition to avoiding copyright disputes, designers should be making substantial and thoughtful changes to typefaces so that the wordmark logo uniquely represents the client’s brand.

What does an unmodified wordmark logo look like?

In general, if a reported design is too close to an existing font to definitively tell whether it has been modified, it will be removed.

Designs are regularly reported when a designer:  

  • submits an unmodified font
  • adds frames, lines or other small decorative elements around an unmodified font

Here are a few examples of logos that have not been customized enough:


What should I do if I see an unmodified typeface submitted as a logo?

First, make sure that the logo is not original. You must be able to verify the name of the font so that our staff will have enough information to review the report.

Once you have evidence of an infringement, please follow these instructions to report the entry to our designer support team.


To learn more about typefaces, check out this article on our 99designs blog!

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