Let’s say you’ve been tasked with hiring a design studio. Your company’s visual identity needs revamped, but it’s nearing the end of the financial year so the budget is already stretched.
In the boardroom you pitch the idea of holding a design contest where you receive a ton of variations, and only pay for one. Great idea, yes?
Podcast Guild logo design contest entry
The client-designer relationship
When designers and clients work together they build a relationship. It begins from those first impressions, and often continues for quite a few years.
As the client, rest assured that your designer values your business. He or she isn’t providing you with design based purely on aesthetics, or one that took half an hour to create. The designer looks deep into your business plan, your company mission, your background, your way of dealing with people, and many other aspects about your brand.
This allows your designer to offer a timeless identity that doesn’t need redesigned as soon as the latest trend has passed. Logo trends come and go, and should only be used to stay aware of what’s out there — not as a rule that needs followed.
Logo design contest entries
From a client viewpoint, this is what would concern me about contest submissions:
- How many questions were asked of the me?
- How much research was conducted into my business?
- Was any brainstorming or sketching carried out?
- How much time was spent on the project?
My educated guesses for the average logo entry are as follows:
- Questions? None.
- Research conducted? Little to none.
- Brainstorming or sketching? Little to none.
- Total time spent? 30 minutes.
A couple of contests took place recently, one for Wisdump and one for Smashing Magazine. The standard of entry backs-up my sentiments.
These contests can lead to some very underhanded tactics, too. Mitch at Harpzon (link removed: site no longer exists), for example, paid to have a logo contest listed on Site Point for his Conquer Fear of Flying website (link removed: domain name appears to have changed hands). Before the contest had even started he knew he wouldn’t like any of the entries. He simply used the contest as a way to have a customised link to his new venture from the Site Point website. Terrible.
Back to my original scenario. When planning for that meeting, ask your colleagues just how much value they place on brand identity. If it’s any at all then you’ll steer well clear of contests.
Other blog posts about spec work pitfalls
- An interview with Spec Watch: The Naked Truth About Design Contests, on Web Designer Depot (added 30 July 2009)
- Design contests are dangerous for your business, on NO!SPEC
- The reality of logo design contests, on Logo Design Love
- When a “contest” is not a contest, by Jeff Fisher
- Spec Watch on design contests, on Logo Design Love