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Need Permission To List Customers, Use Logo?

How do you handle listing customers and perhaps their logos on a customers page? And maybe featuring some on the home page? Do you ask permission or not?



The customers I want to show off are top tier universities: Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc. The users are mostly admin staff in various academic departments. A few are paying, but most use my site for free. It seems like it might be a hard road to get permission. Should I go ahead and list them, or always get permission. What about logos?

(By the way, I very well might reach out to some for testimonials, which would be much more powerful, but I'm not asking about that.)

18 Replies

Lawrence I Lerner
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Lawrence I Lerner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Digitalization and Transformation Coach
Are you a B2B or B2C product/service? Most B2B contracts call out the use of logos and names. It all depends on the company. Some have strong policies against using their name logo. It's something we try to work out in advance.

If you can point to something in the public (you're both named in an approved press release) that is usually fair game.
Tim Scott
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Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software
We're more like B2C. Or maybe B2E. That is, employees of companies use our site as a productivity tool to do their job. A few of them get thier boss's permission to charge $60 on a company credit card for an annual subscription.
Lawrence I Lerner
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Lawrence I Lerner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Digitalization and Transformation Coach
Tricky. In this case I would err on the side of caution and not use the logos.

Howard Postley
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Howard Postley Advisor
Advisor / Investor / Designer / Entrepreneur
You might consider changing your TOS to have an opt-out for that and then reset everyone's acceptance so they see it again the next time they log in.
Tami Belt
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Tami Belt Advisor
Owner, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions
I categorically list current and former clients on the 'About Us' page with a link to their web site. I do not to list logos as I wanted this page to look professional, not like an ad. Whenever possible, I secured permission for each listing. Testimonials are included on another page. Tami Belt Blue Cube Marketing Solutions [removed to protect privacy] www.1bluecube.com "The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." - William James
Stuart Frederich-Smith
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Director of Product at PlanGrid
I've found reaction to this kind of request to be highly variable. One company I worked with was absolute in refusing to allow their logo to be used in association with our product because they felt that it was a marketing value to our (much smaller) company and was only permissible in exchange for a discount in fees. Other companies of similar size were far more permissive. I know a lot of people take the 'beg forgiveness' approach to things like this, but your reputation with your customers is on the line here and it will suffer if they feel there has been a transgression. I would suggest reaching out to the closest person you know at the companies using the product and ask their advise about how to proceed. It will be easier for them to say no than yes, but you'll sleep better.
Erik Molander
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Erik Molander Advisor
Executive in Residence at ITEC at Boston University
Hi Tim, Always ask your customer / client. Always. A firm we were hosting in our accelerator did not ask their client. A prospective customer called the client's office and instead of getting the VP, they were transferred to a disgruntled IT employee that panned the software. The team lost the sale. Always ask the client and ask it it is appropriate if prospective customers could call her directly. Cheers, Erik Molander Erik Molander Executive-In-Residence Strategy and Innovation Department School of Management 143 Bay State Road Room 502 Boston, MA 02215 [removed to protect privacy] _molander@bu.edu_ Logo*/entrepreneurship@BU/*
Ron Boyd
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Ron Boyd Entrepreneur
Website Consultant / Business Owner / Speaker & Trainer
Large companies usually have posted limitations, requirements etc. For using their brands and logos. I have it in my contact, that we have their permission to list them as a client and/or use their logo, linked with our privacy policy that we cannot make false classics etc. Only had one client had their legal dept. remove it. -- Ron Twitter: @boydrw --- Save a tree - Think before you print ------- This message & attachments may be private & confidential, and is intended for the above-named recipient(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient of this message please delete this message. Thank you! -------
Charles Kraus
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Charles Kraus Advisor
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Limelight Networks
Tim - This is a tricky area. Here are the guidelines I go by: - The best case - you ask permission, and it is granted. It could be for
Alan Peters
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Alan Peters Entrepreneur
VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks
I've run into this a lot in the past. While I could never officially advise this: there's a lot to be said for begging for forgiveness. The problem is that marquis customers are big and therefore have onerous legal requirements and therefore are never invented to approve it. So if you ask - your stakeholder would like to say yes, but is not in a position to do so. The likely downside is not so much lawsuit but potentially a cease and desist, or a hurt customer relationship. That said: I suggest going-forward putting in a short and reasonable publicity cause into your terms of service or contracts that reserves your right to display logo in marketing materials. Finally, if you do go the better-to-ask-forgiveness route, be sure not to overreach. For example, if your real direct customer is somebody who in turn sells your product to Harvard, don't put Harvard on your nascar strip of logos. Ps I am not a lawyer.
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