Dear Moleskinerie

On behalf of our team at Moleskine, I would like to explain how we have been reacting to questions surrounding our contest to design a new logo for this blog.

Earlier this month, when we launched the contest – the first of this type of online competition for us – our intent was to celebrate the creativity of designers and support the community that has formed around this blog. We should have foreseen that the structure of the contest would raise questions about crowdsourced design. We didn’t, and we’re sorry. For a brand that regularly celebrates, collaborates and works with designers, this was quite unintentional.

To make matters worse, our first responses to your comments didn’t communicate how we really felt – tremendous support and respect for all of our users.

Based on the feedback, we feel it is only right and fair that we continue the contest while pledging not to use any of the entered work as the logo identity of this blog or for any other commercial purpose. We never intended to condone or support unpaid spec work in any way. We only want to continue to celebrate the hundreds of talented designers who have submitted entries and are exploring ways to showcase their work in a special way.

As part of our brand values, we have always embraced creativity and endeavored to involve artists, writers and designers in interactive exhibitions, events and our activities. We are continuously in conversation with our users and strive to find new ways to connect. However, in our intent to experiment, we sometimes find ourselves in the line of facing criticism.

We comprise a company devoted to designing blank pages and tools for creative professionals. We celebrate the value of design and apologize that we did not clearly appreciate the perspectives around crowdsourced design.

More than anything else, I want to emphasize that we stand for creativity. We care about our customers and want to do better. I hope that you will see our brand’s history of attention to quality, consumer relations, and authenticity and work with us to find better ways to involve our users in celebrating creativity.


Maria Sebregondi
Executive Director, Brand Equity

34 thoughts on “Dear Moleskinerie

  1. I think where the dichotomy comes for most of us is that while yes, in the past you have stood for quality, consumer relationships and authenticity – creating a contest in which we (your consumers) spend hours of our time creating a logo for which we may or may not be paid that may or may not be used, all the while having the handicap of being unable to communicate with you directly about your specific needs…that’s neither quality nor good for your consumer relationships, and it feels pretty inauthentic. It feels cheap, and makes us feel disrespected by a brand that most of us have backed for years.

    While I appreciate you taking the time to directly address the issue, I’m still unsure of whether or not I’ll continue to use Moleskine products. I’m learning towards no.

  2. This is i think the best response that you could offer this far into the contest, thank you for making the effort to understand the viewpoint of your valued customers.

  3. One the one hand, I’m glad you’ve gone back on yourselves and changed your minds about this ‘competition’. One the other you should really be questioning why, as a design conscious company, how this could have got this far. Designers attitudes to design competitions, crowd sourcing and spec work have been widely popularised. When you researched how and and when to launch this competition there would have undoubtedly been some articles regarding the potential backlash to spec work in the search results. You really missed the boat.

    Try consulting your design professionals next time.

  4. Addressing the disappointment expressed by your customers and recognizing the error in judgement is commendable. What is still of concern to me is how can you pledge; “not to use any of the entered work as the logo identity of this blog or for any other commercial purpose” and then say you are “exploring ways to showcase their work in a special way.”

    How can showcasing the work – especially work that presumably (if executed well) includes your company name, or at least some form of its essence – not be seen as commercial use? Are you saying advertising isn’t commercial use?

  5. @Dani Kelley
    Dani, you are absolutely right and this is why we are not using any of the submitted work as the logo for our blog or for any other commercial purpose. By doing this, we aim to uphold AIGA’s values and guidelines around unpaid spec work ( and crowdsourced design (

    As AIGA outlines, professional design and the process that accompanies it require a commitment from both the brand and the designer and it is the brand’s responsibility to fully brief the designer and outline clear business objectives. These are important issues to discuss and while we regret the circumstances under which we are having these conversations, we are gratified to have this dialogue with our customers and learn from them. We hope we will be judged for our honesty and desire to honor the value of design. We are sorry and we want to do better.

  6. Thanks for owning up to the mess this contest created, and thank you for specifically addressing the sloppy and unmindful response from your staff member. His offensive reply directly fueled the controversy and disappointment toward your brand. Although it is awkward you’re following through with the contest and submissions (minus the use of the winning logo), I understand its your attempt dig your way out of the hole your in. Either way I appreciate you taking action and acknowledging your mistake. You’ve done the right thing.

  7. A very bold step in the right direction. I commend Moleskine on listening to customers and owning up to your marketing error.

    Thank you for your ears to hear us and change your plans. Thank you for the courage to apologize to the design community and admit a mistake.

    The thing to consider and weigh right now is, how did you get so out of touch with your market and not see this as a possible negative? Get back in touch and build the relationship with your customers by not only supplying products, but by championing their collective concerns and causes.

  8. Could you please fix my typo on Moleskine. It looks like I can’t edit comments.

    I’m sorry for the typo. It was not intentional.

  9. Maria, finding ‘better ways’ … you already did by making me take a new look at your competitor products. They ALL won. Moleskine lost me … forever!
    Hope your lessons have been well learned and wish you good luck in your new company.

  10. I support the actions your company has taken to rectify a mistake. It’s far more than many individuals themselves could have done.

  11. Hi Moleskinerie

    I have been using your product since my grand father did, in time of times, do you know what does it means ?
    Means that: in my family small library, are more moleskine than books.
    Means that: in 3 generations i have partially helped you and your employee in getting in better living.

    Now, i have been working on this logo many years before your competition was announced, i have something personal, worked in years to submit.

    Would you please explain me what does “we will not be using the winning logo as the logo identity of the MOLESKINERIE blog or
    for any other commercial purpose” means ?
    Well since everything will be public or published in any way it is a commercial propose, doesn’t it ?

    And what it means “we are exploring ways to showcase their work in a special way ” ? Sorry, it sounds too “italian” to me, without offense, which is this special way ?

    Why don’t you make the rules more clear since there are millions of clients worldwide that use your products ?

    I am without speachless ?!
    I don’t know what to do ?!

    It remains 10 days more till deadline, i hope you will answer to me, to my father, and to my grandpa spirit anyhow, or there will be no more moleskiners in my familly.

    My english may be worse than my italian by i hope my comment is clear to you.

    Thanking you for the attention to your consumer i am wating for a response in order to clear my doubts …


  12. @AAA Thanks for sharing your family’s history with Moleskine with us, and we’re sorry to cause you frustration by changing the contest rules. Our only intent was to celebrate the creativity of our design customers like you. We thought to ask that community to help create a logo for the blog. We created a contest and it raised questions about design crowdsourcing. We should have foreseen this issue but didn’t and we apologize.

    As we continue to listen to the debate, we feel it is only right and fair that we continue the contest while not using any of the entered work as the logo identity of Moleskinerie blog or for any other comercial purpose. We never intended to condone or support unpaid spec work in any way.

    We want to continue to celebrate the hundreds of talented designers who have submitted entries by showcasing their work in other meaningful ways. Stay tuned for more details.

  13. @Andee “Showcasing the work” clearly refers to a gallery of entries (or similar) which would be great free exposure, particlularly for freelancers and can hardly be called “using in advertising”. People should really lighten up on this – nobody is forced to take part and it’s up to you if you want to enter. Good on Moleskine for giving people the opportunity to engage although I bet they are regretting it now. All they need to do is add in a gallery, links to the individual / company who submit and user voting and the competition would be perfectly viable and everyone who enters could benefit. The view must be great from all your moral high horses!

  14. Dear all, for heaven’s sake, if you’re a designer and have the time, resources, will, inspiration and desire to participate, then have at it. If not, what’s the big deal? Still pages of paper stitched into a nice, durable, low key cover. Right?

  15. Will Moleskin also ensure designers that are entering this retain their copyright on these unused entries. Otherwise this situation really hasn’t improved in anything but empty blog words.

    Suspicions remain.

  16. Well said. Considering how far this has come (Which it REALLY shouldn’t have), you are now doing the only ‘right’ thing you can to honour entries yet not gain from it.

    Hopefully others will learn from your PR nightmare and not repeat this!!

  17. Why was my comment asking questions about copyright concerns created by the continuation of this “competition” and the eventual production of a logo deleted?

  18. Well done, Moleskine. I think this is perhaps the best possible response to the anti-spec furor.

    I don’t understand the “damage has been done, see ya” attitude. There has been no damage done, and now a reputable company clearly understands the problems of spec work. How is this not a huge win for the design industry?

  19. Thanks for the apology. – I know there are many of us who enjoy taking part in competition briefs and think it’s a good opportunity to do some nice design work. It can often give you a little more motivation if it’s a live brief.

    What I do think it brings to light, is how well you’ve reacted to feedback from your customers. Keep up the great products!

  20. Apology accepted.

    You boycotters crack me up. Like your petty abstinence will have any impact at all. Youre just cutting yourself off from good products.

    Im glad though, more for the rest of us 🙂

  21. I think this is a learning moment for everyone. It’s a tough position to have committed to run the contest then renege on the offer.

    The proposed offer—IMHO—is fair. In the name of transparency and commitment to the proposed resolution, perhaps the company might choose to put forward a public RFP with their brief and key decision criteria. The overall proposals (perhaps, with the exception of bid details) could be made public at certain points in the decision process for commentary and critique. Like film credits, there may be a few stars and a tremendous number of contributors that are worthy of credit for the finished product.

    Amazing design need not be a financial burden on a company. In fact, outstanding design becomes an incredibly valuable intangible asset. There should always be a mutual exchange of value. However, it does not require an extraordinary budget to achieve design work of lasting value. The Nike development of the Nike logo is a good case for this point.

  22. From the AIGA’s note on Crowdsourcing (referenced above): “Reacting strongly with righteous indignation only allows the firms or agencies using crowdsourcing to dismiss them as a reactionary force, with little understanding of innovative ways for harnessing creativity.”

    Yet some of the posters so far have in fact reacted strongly with righteous indignation. Interesting.

  23. @S Wood
    S Wood, we understand your concern and yes, every designer who submits an entry into the Moleskinerie blog logo contest will retain all rights to his/her submission and will remain the copyright owner of the logo. We are committed to not leveraging any of the submitted entries for commercial use in any way.

  24. Maria-
    I applaud the effort in trying to right the wrong. What’s overtly evident from the responses to date is the passion we all have for your brand. For us, Moleskine is (was) a friend, confidant, and trusted daily companion. In its pages, we poured our artistic expression… our emotion. So, it’s easy to see how we were violated when we felt you were trying to capitalize on our creativity.

    A suggestion moving forward; please take a look at Sharpie’s blog.

    It too celebrates creativity and collaboration and achieves your goals of “looking at ways to highlight the artists and designers and their talent in a special way.” The end result connects Sharpie users in a compelling and engaging experience.

    Looking at your Flickr photo stream, I know you are doing the same in different venues.

    That is the Moleskine we know.

    That is the Moleskine we want.

    That is the Moleskine we believe.

    Thank you.

  25. I worked, drawing and thinking, the logo, because they have to be problems related to non-creative aspects .. are extremely regretful, angry that you can not shape a contest for a free expression …. we do not want money, but freedom of creativity, and an opinion, g.

  26. you should be happy that the compettition still continious and have chance to be paid for your work, as it is the right of the company to suspend the competition any time they find it necessary for the good of bussines. 5000 euro are not few, moleskinie has its tradition and it’s products tell this.

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