An alternative way of attaining a contemporary logo design is to go through many online contests or crowd sourcing websites that are popping up all over the internet. Are these really a good idea, however? Can companies really get a modern brand logo of equal quality for a far cheaper price? This is the very issue we’re going to discuss in the following article.
Whether it’s problem-solving, innovation, or efficiency, crowdsourcing relates to the practice of engaging a group of people for a common goal. It’s all due to the growing connectivity that it has become easier for individuals to share ideas and expertise collectively for a project or cause. In a nutshell, this collective mobilization is called crowdsourcing.
“Crowds are a hit. Millions of people, connected by the Internet, are contributing ideas and information to projects big and small. Crowdsourcing, as it is called, is helping to solve tricky problems and providing localized information. And with the right knowledge, contributing to the crowd — and using its wisdom — is easier than ever.”
-The New York Times
Although there are few subtle differences between the two, the terms ‘logo design contest’ and ‘crowd sourcing’ are often used interchangeably. While in the world of logo design, the term crowdsourcing refers to logo contests, the term is also used for legitimate business pursuits.
Crowdsourcing can be a viable activity, especially if you’re using it to gain insight or get in touch with your consumer base. In this context, you are asking a group of customers to be creators, with payment agreed on in advance. Instead of being asked to perform highly specialized work, they merely offer a real-world perspective.
The beneficiaries of crowdsourcing
Like any other skilled service, designing a logo can be pricey. Many small to large business owners, weighed down by start-up expenses, look to save pennies at every turn. If you can get an adequate company logo at a cheaper rate, then why not avail that option, right?
Furthermore, crowdsourcing sometimes offers an even better product than traditional design agencies. It’s amazing to see how a huge group of talented people can produce a better pool of ideas than a single designer, no matter how trained or experienced.
For business personnel, upfront work takes less time via crowdsourcing because there are no in-person meetings with designers or offering minute-to-minute feedback on a continuously evolving project until it is executed perfectly.
However, there is one clear winner in logo design and crowd sourcing contests: the companies that run the websites offering these services. The acceptance of crowdsourcing is exactly what the design profession needs to shed the conceited label Forbes has assigned it. So, without further ado, here is a list of reasons why you could possibly consider crowdsourcing for your next logo design project.
- Working with a creative community
- Eliminating overheads
- Creating a buzz
- It’s social
Logo designers and web designers, who don’t understand the importance of originality, usually continue issuing copied work in design contests. There are many design firms that create projects on what they believe is best for their clientele; and while they are at it, the less qualified design agencies bend their preferences to satisfy their customers, and consequently, earn the business. With crowdfunding, on the other hand, the designers have no compulsory duty towards the client and at times have very little information about the company.
As a result, this fosters a creative work environment, with a plethora of different, albeit creative views emerging from multiple designers.
The Lego Company, for example, has a dedicated website built for fans to pitch in their own product ideas. Other users can then vote for their favourite concepts, stating how much they would pay for it and explaining why they like it so much.
If more than 10,000 people support a particular idea, it goes to the official Lego review board, where the team members then decide whether or not to add it to production. The creations that were only recently debated on include the boat and shark from Jaws, a red squirrel and a replica of Batman’s Wayne Manor.
Some brands prefer to have graphic designers on board to closely control and inspect the creative side of the business. However, this can be quite costly with payroll, taxes, employee benefits, salaries, etc. to take care of. Additionally, in-house designers cannot be utilized fully during down times. Crowdsourcing, therefore, provides a wide range of services including banner ads, one-off illustrations, email campaigns, and pay-as-you-go pricing models.
Another great method for leveraging crowdsource is to double down. Since some platforms allow users to run surveys and voting through social media accounts, you can easily reach out to fans and your network to vote on designs. Not only does this successfully provide valuable feedback, it also helps create substantial buzz as work continues to grow.
A few years ago, Wild Creations (WC) experienced a significant change in work dynamics, with the team deciding to take the opportunity to give their six-year-old brand a reboot. They knew perfectly well how they wanted to change the image of their company, and felt they had enough experience and creativity between the managers and partners to build a new identity for the brand.
The only problem was that they became the victim of the IKEA effect, or in other words, the bias created by your own labour of love. The company had developed the logo years earlier, which always included a set of eye balls.
When they set out to rebrand, they wanted to incorporate these eyeballs into the new logo. Their project, submitted on 99designs.com, received over 300 unique submissions, and in the end, WC chose a design that did not follow their suggested guidelines, with the designer’s recommendations really standing out.
Michael Hyatt, in his thirty-plus years of book publishing, was involved in the design of many book covers. ‘I was always surprised at how much we paid for design. It wasn’t unusual to spend $5,000 (or more) on a book jacket,’ he says.
This is in part because it was difficult to find and hire great designers for personal work. According to Hyatt, the experienced ones didn’t have a lot of competition, so they could demand high fees. Crowdsourcing, however, changed all that.
Through the power of social networking, online contests and the free market, costs plummeted really fast. It’s a voluntary system since no one is forced to participate. But at the same time, you can get a decent book cover design for about 400 dollars.
The development team at 99Designs has a built-in polling system. This means you can select numerous designs, eight specifically, and ask your colleagues, friends and family for their input. They can easily rate each design and leave a comment as well.
Hyatt, for example, received 2,876 votes on one of his book cover design projects. The comments, too, were greatly helpful as they made him fine-tune his designs further, including making critical changes to the subtitle. This is probably one of the closest things you can get to focus group testing before you launch.
The crowdsource host: the flipside
Like a coin, crowdsourcing also has two sides: the good and could-be-better. A freelance graphic designer or a logo design contest, for example, might help your team take the top spot, but are the participatory perks enough for designers who cannot pull through the competition? How exactly is it beneficial for the company hosting the task?
Many start-up owners believe logo design contests to be a complete waste of time. In one case, a person held a contest for a logo design, offering a $350 prize for the winner. After almost 54 entries, nothing worked. For this amount of money and time wasted, the customer could have easily worked with an agency, a professional logo creator, and ended up with a design that they really needed.
Why entrust an important process to someone who has no stake in the business; especially if you believe that the right logo can help your brand find recognition and success? Anybody can easily find an image to slap on the letterhead in Microsoft clipart, than a logo contest entrant.
Intellectual theft and copyright issues
The fact that many people have little to no understanding of graphic design only makes it simpler for Photoshop thieves and online contest site accounts to take undue advantage. What many companies don’t realise is that they are getting a substandard product. When the business begins to lag, they will never consider that their brand is to be blamed, a service or product that is mostly represented by their logo. And sometimes, they might also get into copyright infringement issues.
Shown above is a logo contest entry that heavily borrows from other similar logo designs. And this is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of the ‘borrowed logos’ examples. Logo design contests seem to be set up to create these situations, despite the fact that the problem of intellectual theft and plagiarism is often discussed in the graphic design world.
You may or may not get the best work
When it comes to crowdsourcing, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly applies. Upon partnering with experienced logo designers, you can be certain that these trained professionals that will make your design their top priority. However, with crowdsourcing, your design will only be finished if they have time for it.
According to a research, only 15 per cent of crowd workers use this system as their primary source of income, and more than two-thirds say they only do it as an extracurricular activity or to earn ‘extra cash on the side’. Your company logo is surely worth more than that.
Moreover, there is always a chance of you being offered second hand work. Logo designers that lose out on former projects, with time and effort invested into the bid, may become hesitant to let that go. So what do you think they do? Most of them safe-keep their old work and offer it up as ‘fresh’ ideas for the next company’s logo design, which might be your company. Again, all brands need and deserve more than just random cast offs from other design efforts.
For all its worth…
So, are crowdsourcing and design contests effective ways to get logo design work done? Maybe. In terms of the number of concepts you will be pitched, there is no comparison between working with freelancers or a design agency. However, if quality and reliable output is your thing, they simply cannot match it.
Since crowdsourcing websites don’t technically pay their workers, there is no practical limit on the number of revised or original ideas you will receive. Are they all good concepts? Not at all. A majority of ideas you will come across run a higher risk of being work that’s pinched from someplace else. However, realistically speaking, there are always few pearls in the pile of oysters that is crowdsourcing.