Why Crowdsourcing Your Brand’s Logo is a Bad Idea

Crowdsourcing is sometimes seen as a cost-effective way of getting your brand a good logo design, but in reality it’s one of the worst things you can do for your brand.

Crowdsourcing involves inviting multiple designers to send in logos for you to review. You sift through all the choices and then pay for the design closest to what you want. On the surface it sounds deceptively simple and straightforward; in reality, however, it complicates matters far more than if you had just hired a single contractor in the first place.

Poor Quality Designs

Business owners don’t realize that a public call for designs involves sifting through a lot of sub-standard submissions. An open competition means even inexperienced, unskilled designers will be jumping in and muddying up the waters with bland, off-message work. You’ll have to leaf through dozens of entries just to find the one or two gems in all the dross. Your time is too valuable to put up with that sort of thing.

No Designer Relationship

A designer is much like a doctor. Sure, you can drop in and consult on a one-off basis, but for him to be really effective he has to get to know you and become familiar your habits, lifestyle, and goals. That’s how designers are able to come up with great logos that are spot-on with your message and help you develop your brand image over time. They stick around to see if a treatment works, and help you to tweak it if it doesn’t. Crowdsourced designers just slap on a band-aid, give you a couple of aspirin, and ask for your money without seeing if their diagnosis works.

No Collaboration

One of the key advantages of having a single designer creating multiple design studies for you to choose from is that you can mix and match. Like the colour of one design, but the font of another? The designer can mesh the two together and come up with your ideal logo. Crowdsource designers, however, are highly competitive and will not cooperate to produce a better design. Neither are they going to be willing to lift elements from competing designs, because that would be a violation of the other designer’s copyright.

Unethical

Crowdsourced logo design projects have a bad reputation among designers because it involves large amounts of work with no guarantee of compensation (also called “spec work”). This is a bad investment for freelancers, who are paid per hour and will most likely lose money on the deal. Think about it: if you were a chef, would you cook a meal for someone who would only pay you if they decided yours was better than those of fifteen other chefs? Not likely!

It Cheapens Your Brand

A crowdsourced logo competition might be able to help a smaller business with a limited budget, but it will do more harm than good for larger brands. It tells customers that you don’t value your brand enough to properly invest in professional talent. It tells the design community that you don’t value their work enough to adequately compensate professionals for their work.

What’s your stand on crowdsourced design competitions? Do you think they’re good for business, or not?

Mash Bonigala
Mash is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped 100s of companies differentiate themselves from the competition through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity design. Schedule a call with Mash to discuss how to clearly communicate your brand story. (Follow him on Google+ and Twitter)
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