Trademarks and logos in portfolios and samples?

A question has been on my mind for a while. I see many people posting work with prominent logos and model references in their design, who may or may not be officially associated with said companies…

If you are creating examples to vie for a specific job, do you incorporate their logos/trademarks, or do you leave them naked?
I can imagine some companies might see that as unapproved use, but others might like to see how you treat their product.

Beyond the submission, if you want to incorporate said images into your portfolio, is there an accepted method of labeling so you are not misleading people into thinking it was work from a professional relationship?

Thanks in advance,


This is a great question!

I see branding all over Coroflot portfolios, mostly on a vast majority of student work.

I’m now curious too. Does anyone have any insight into this?

I guess it depends on the company’s attitude. Maybe big companies like Nike support budding designers?

When I was in school, we were told to just ask the company if you want to use their logo for work you completed for them. We had one coop that pretty much didn’t want us to show the work, or really even tell anyone we had worked with them for one year, and then after it go for it. That was part of the NDA.

We had another one that furnished tif files of official logos for us to incorporate into the products. Their NDA was much less restrictive.

I had an internship that told me that half the work I did for them was not available to me, while the other was at my discretion as far as showing logos, sketches, renderings, production drawings etc. They had me sign the NDA on the last day, so I probably could have told them where to file it, but I didn’t want to be that kind of person, and I didn’t see a problem with anything they wanted.

One cool thing I saw lately was something I worked on during an internship just went on the market, so that was really neat.

Another reason kids would put logos on stuff would be branding exercises right? I really don’t know how that works, and really we always did it early in school, so I doubt it would be at the top of the pile of things I could show people, not that it was bad, but sophomore level Apple coffee pots and Braun toasters tend to all sort of look the same. I doubt any of these companies would really care all that much, as most schools seem like they have you do something that the company wouldn’t actually do, so its pretty obvious.

I guess your covered with a company that you’ve actually designed for and what can and can’t be used is between you and the HR department. The situation I’m most concerned about is this:

When I submit a response for a job, I like to make a few images specifically for that job.
1: do the companies like to see what you do with their branding?
2: These images will make their way into my general portfolio. Is there a standard disclaimer that these were sample images not affiliated with the actual trademark holders?