The Logo Factor: Why you should crowdsource your logo

If you’ve been keeping up with the comments on David Airey’s post, Forbes calls designers snooty, you couldn’t possibly have missed the excellent points made by Steve Douglas from The Logo Factory.

Steve has long been on top of the spec issue with significant posts such as Logo Design Contest Copycats, Why logo contests don’t work and Logo Design Contests. Fun and all.

During the Forbes conversation, Steve came out with Design is a “snooty” business: Forbes.

And now he’s gone one further with Why you should crowdsource your logo.

First-rate Steve. As usual.

9 responses to “The Logo Factor: Why you should crowdsource your logo”

  1. You do realize your entire site does nothing but reinforce the ‘snooty’ image people have of you people don’t you?

    After going through the motions with designers for years I finally tried crowdsourcing last year. I’m never taking the risk of hiring one designer again.

  2. Carl, how do you hire a dentist? Oncologist? Accountant?

    A question for the would-be contest holder: If you were not allowed to utilize crowdspring unless you agreed to earn a living by the same terms as set forth between you and crowdspring designers, how would that affect your decision to hold a contest (not to mention the effect on your revenue, salary and lifestyle)? Would you be willing to work on spec, and would you — should you be lucky enough to win a contest — accept deflated fees? If not, shame on you.

    “Give me unlimited choices until I find one I like” is not the best process for choosing a logo or anything else. Of course that approach is cost prohibitive in the real world! Customers can ill afford to pay a designer to accommodate their own indecision. How will a customer know when to choose? There may be more than one “right” answer. Is ego the best judge?

    According to graphic design icon Paula Scher, “If the design presented is simple and contains a limited amount of information and imagery there are likely to be far more amendments and revisions. [Customers tend to] amend it until all of the interest and joy are removed or until they run out of time.”

    Scher also tells this story, “When a client once tried to persuade me to cut my fee on a “simple” job, I told him I needed the money to pay for all of the revisions he was going to make. He insisted that there would be few revisions. I offered him a deal: the design would be free, but every revision made – no matter how minor – would cost a thousand dollars. He refused the deal.”

    Good design is not entirely subjective. There are very many objective criteria that determine the success of a company’s identification project. The best approach is a team effort working from an agreed criteria, driven by the client and guided by the designer. The idea that “my opinion is as good as yours” (design is purely subjective) is a pervasive fundamental misconception and puts the designer at odds with the client rather than on the same team.

    Design contests depend upon that misconception. Promoting the idea that “design is only a matter of taste” devalues the profession of design by saying, “Your education, talent, skill, time spent, experience and investment in computer, fonts, design, illustration, and file compression software, books, internet service are worthless to me. So I will request work on my behalf from people I have no intention of paying. I am going to pay one person, who works hard to be the best, a deflated fee. Or, I may just review the work and pay no one.”

    As many “contest holders” think design contests are a great deal for them — a word of caution. Presumably contest holders use this website to save money. If “cheap” is your overriding purpose and primary objective: Do you have any idea how much it will cost to reproduce the designs on letterhead or other applications? If you plan to “save money” and design your own, and print it on your inkjet printer: Do you know how much toner you will eat up doing that? Do you know what you can afford to spend on revising your logo artwork each time you use it for a different purpose? Do you realize your production costs may be large due to lack of foresight in planning? A good professional would sort that out for you on the front end.

  3. A question for those participating in design contests:

    I have yet to see a spec worker justify their position.
    What is the appeal of a design contest to the freelance designer (or any human being with self esteem)? Professional designer or not, this is the message design contests send to the world about your talent:

    “I agree to promote the idea that my time and talent is of little or no value.”

    The design contest is like a lottery, except that the risk/reward factor is reversed. The “cost of the ticket” is much larger and prize is very small and not even guaranteed to be paid out to anyone.

    In the words of Benjamin Franklin:
    “Time is money.”
    “Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”

    How is it that a paltry and arbitrarily set fee — without any regard for the time invested on the project, or the skill and talent of the designer — can be a positive exercise for customers or designers in the long term? The only foreseeable result is deflating income for designers (a profession that is not well-paid to begin with) and, ultimately, promoting hasty hackwork to buyers.

  4. Dear, Dear Ivan,

    I just looked at your link. Thank you for posting that. I have a friend who is using and shared his results with me (even though he knows that I am an out of work professional). Offensive to say the least, right?

    So on Steven Douglas has commented (yea!) and the owner of elogocontest says some crazy stuff in response:

    1. Steven makes the point that a design firm has to pay employees and the design contests do not. George (owner of says: “We don’t have employees, we have USERS.” I would say, indeed you have “USERS,” that is the PERFECT NAME for contest holders. You should correspondingly then call the designers, the “USED.” Because, technically, it is useless for the designer who does not win.

    2. George of elogocontest also said: “Just like any project, the more time time the designer puts into their work the more likely it is they are going to please the client.”

    I am not sure that is factual with an unsophisticated buyer. And Ivan, your site demonstrates the fallacy of this comment. But if it were factual, how is it right that some thoughtful designer will put in many hours and others will hastily cobble something together, yet the fee is the same regardless, and not guaranteed for either?

    I do not see how an arbitrary fee (that is very low) would encourage a designer to put more time into their work.

    It is also unfair that early users’ ideas can be usurped by those posting later and taken to the next level before a contest holder even bothers to comment. So it is possible for someone to steal an idea and win, and an unsophisticated contest holder would not even recognize the plagiarism.

    Lastly, I have to agree with Steve Douglas, regarding the supposed benefits of sheer quantities of ideas. (crowdspring aptly calls it “Ridiculous choice.”) Where is the logic that dictates more is better? What is the point of generating lots of mediocrity? Even if mediocrity is in the eye of the beholder, it amounts to a lot of waste. My friend’s contest has 88+ entires and he posted this comment with 2 days to go:

    “All designers, really, really great efforts. We still don’t have one that we’re ready to stop the contest for so keep wowing us with your skills. And thanks again, we value your work.”

    Did I mention that he is offering a $200 prize? That amounts to a value for him of each idea = $2.27. (until he is further wowed at which time the value will decrease) However, value of your talent = $0 for 87 designers.

    And I feel that someone should point out that “entries” and “ideas” are two different things. There are many entries with the same cliche ideas in these contests. That amounts to far more entries than ideas.

    Ivan – you have great work. I hope you don’t quit design. Just “cast not your pearls before swine.”

  5. It seems in –Brazil, where there´s lot of poverty, every kind of work is being crowd-sourced (engineering, healthcare, services) ; the crisis will accentuate this?

    Something I haven´t seen discussed is that while some designers work for free in this spec market, someone is getting very rich (site owners).

    It´s just a business, and they are using designers despair to earn real money, pretending to help the underachieved, as the holly saviors.

    designers should be aware of it. Their loss is the gain to some.

  6. this shit is depressing.
    ive spent the last year fishing for freelance work on craigslist and i have never been more insulted in my whole life. to top it all off today i met up with a client to deliver my logo work and was given $75 for a job i charge double for but since i NEEDED the cash i simply took the money and walked away with my tail between my legs. i feel like a damn prostitute freelancing my work. why be creative and original and still feel like im worthless? i think its time for me to apply to McDonalds or Starbucks. at least there i dont have to worry about my bills anymore.

  7. let me say after participating in 20 contests and winning none (almost winning some and get bypassed by copies, or worst, when realllly bad designs won)

    I got really depressed, thought of quitting design for good!

    It´s not bad enough to spend hours working for nothing, but to see lousy designs win, people dont understand designers are professionals who study brand identity and social interactions : It´s not just drawing!!

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