Is it okay to display large chain logos in your portfolio?

Hi guys,

I had a client who had rented a unit in a large chain supermarket. I produced an advert for them which featured a bag of shopping from said supermarket (I honestly don’t know if my client actually had the artwork printed or actually used it, last I heard they were seeking authorization to use the logo).

The bag of shopping was featured only to illustrate that my client’s company would ‘buy your shopping’ if you found their deal cheaper else where.

Now, I want to display this ad in my portfolio of work (but of course the supermarket logo is on the plastic bags).

Is this okay to use?

I’m not claiming to have worked, or been endorsed by the super market at all. Only stating that the client had a unit inside the supermarket premises and that this was a promo flyer design we produced for the client.

On a side-note: I remember seeing other designer portfolios where they will do mock-adverts for the latest mobile & smartphone handsets, or new TV sets etc and include logos like Nokia and Sony in their artwork and the ads are just for fun to showcase their skills (i assume with a credible name or in a setting that loans a real-life scenario to their work) so that’s kinda of similar I guess.

I wouldn’t go by what “I’ve seen others do”.

I think the easiest thing would be to edit the image to either remove the logo or replace it with something generic like “store logo”.

Else I would contact whoever has rights to the logo and get written permission to use it in your image.

just to add to this…

The logo has not been ‘placed’ into the image. And I am not intentionally “using” the logo.

The image in question is of flyer/leaflet artwork I designed, and within the artwork is a photograph of a plastic bag bearing the logo.

I would imagine it could be argued that the logo in question is in the image inadvertently. I have obscured the logo (via a radial blur) for time being but would really like some other opinions on this.

I would usually play it safe and suggest you seek permission from the owner of the logo (that is, the supermarket). But in this case, I don’t think that would be necessary. If I’ve understood you right, this is an ad you created yourself, and you now want to include that ad in your portfolio.

If you had permission to use the logo in the original ad, then that would clearly cover your use of the ad in your portfolio. After all, the whole point of a portfolio is to show the work that you have already done.

If you didn’t have permission to use the logo in the original ad, then that in itself is possibly a much bigger problem. Whether or not you use the ad in your portfolio isn’t really going to make any difference to that.

If you’re still unsure, one option would be to display a small caption under the ad that says something like the XYZ logo is a trademark of the XYZ Company. Personally, I would prefer to do that, rather than blurring out the image, which would detract from the overall appearance of the ad.


There’s also a case for fair use. If you take a photo, or draw a picture, and it features corporate branding within it, as part of the scene, that’s absolutely fine. On the other hand, if the branding is front and centre, and is an essential rather than incidental part of it, that’s when you might need to be more careful.