Yet Another Crowd-sourcing Fail

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Crowdsourcing is bad for designers. A large number of talented and trained people may spend hours creating a logo design and visual identity only to get nothing out of it when their design is not chosen. Nevertheless, many businesses simply don’t care about the designers involved. They want the best possible logo at the lowest possible cost, and crowdsourcing seems like a viable way of accomplishing this. However, in this case as in so many others, looks can be deceiving.

The problem is that these talented and trained people want to work for actual income, so logo design contests and crowdsourcing tend to attract the less-talented and less-trained. In addition, with no professional designer to guide the process, some of the worst logos end up chosen. The My Rapid Transit logo design contest that was recently completed is a good example.

The contest was held to select a new logo design for the public transportation of Klang Valley, which is a metropolitan area in Malaysia which is home to almost ten million people. There are numerous examples of bad crowdsourced logos from all over the world; this is merely the most recent. It was a rather mundane contest as far as they go: people from the community submitted logos, and then the community voted for the winner.

If you go to the contest website, the logos are ranked by amount of votes. You have to scroll far down the list before you get to any that are approaching professional quality; in fact, it almost looks like they were ranked from worst to best rather than the other way around. The winner is quite an atrocity, with the letters in a plain, slanted font with the bottom of the R forming the steps down to a subway train.

There is no one element that is inherently bad; the problem is one of execution. The logo design is simply ugly. The fonts are stock, the images awkwardly put together. This is typical of the group of logos as a whole. They were probably fun for the ‘designers’ to create on Microsoft Paint, but very few would be the basis for a professional identity, especially not for a design marketing to a population of this size. The one in sixteenth place even has a misspelling of the word ‘Rapid’. In many of these logos, free clipart is used, which means that the design would not be legally copyrightable.

Unfortunately, this is not a particularly bad example of a crowdsourced logo. The entire category seems to follow this pattern: unprofessional logos made with no design training or branding sense, with misspellings, poor execution and even blatant plagiarism. It is a shame, because many of the people who use crowdsourcing and logo design contests are small business owners who need a professional logo and are misinformed as to how to get one. Professional logo design services are not as expensive as most people assume, and the results are more than worth the cost.

The MRT would never crowdsource the engineering or management because that would lead to an unprofessional system. How is design any different?