What you won’t get when crowdsourcing your logo.

What you won’t get when crowdsourcing your logo.

Hunting far and wide for the right logo designer is not an easy task. With so many crowdsourcing sites offering anything from logo design to websites, the possibilities for cheap and easy labor seem virtually endless. The opportunity to get a logo design for under $350.00 is tempting, but at what cost? What may seem like a great deal, often has another side to it.

With that fantastic price, here’s what you won’t be getting:

Additional insights–looking beyond the brief. You’ve gone through writing your creative brief from the helpful aid of the selected crowdsourcing website, but is that including all the information you have or need to convey? One of the many advantages of working with a professional is that even after a very thorough brief there will almost always be some additional, poignant questions. A great designer will know how to glean the additional information they will need to truly capture what you’re looking for.

By the designer doing additional research, they can find out if your perception of your product or service is truly accurate, or does your target market have another opinion. This can make a big difference in how the logo is structured, in what style and what design elements and/or typefaces would deem appropriate.

Service–after the sale. After you have accepted delivery of your new crowdsourced logo, you may in the future have a change or edit you may need to make. Chances are, logojammer1234 will be long gone after your payment has been cleared. Either that or the contact information is no longer accurate, or even available. So what do you do now? Have your brother-in-law with the outdated or incompatible software take a crack at it?

Using a professional will ensure that if you have any adjustments needed after the sale, you can always come back and have them done right. Do you need additional file formats, or versions? Are the colors not working well in your current applications? Most designers understand that there will be many applications that will require different file formats (EPS, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, etc.) and color schemes and include them in the original quoted price. If not, you can always ask.

Experience. Or should we say, a lack thereof. There are a lot of great logos being designed for websites these days with all kinds of great effects, but will that logo work in a print application or on an embroidered shirt? Not likely.

Somewhat simple things like color harmony, scaling, print application and readability are all issues that seasoned experts know how to address when designing a logo. It’s part of the job. Knowing what software applications work best with the latest production techniques can save you lots of money and hassle in the long run, too.

Communication. Graphic design is a communications business both literally and figuratively. If you can’t communicate what you need and want, the designer may or may not address your specific issues. Much like ordering at a loud and crackly drive-through window, you’re not going to be sure that your information is being heard by your designer. Working through a website facade of countless entries is no way to communicate effectively with anyone.

Guarantee of originality. This has been a very hot issue in the crowdsourcing world these days. Charges of copyright infringement, illegal use of stock artwork and lifting of other designer’s work has been running rampant in the industry as of late. Many fledgling designers trying to cut their teeth in the industry frequent the logo contest sites without a clear understanding of what is considered ‘original’ work and what is considered ‘influenced’ by another. Or they don’t care, and just figure they can cash the check and move on.

Not wanting to delve into the many legal aspects of these allegations, I will only say that when working with a professional, there should be a contractual guarantee included in writing on the estimate they provide. Otherwise, you–the client have very little recourse in the event that happens. With all the potential applications of your logo on everything from your website to the gamut of promotional and printed materials, do you really want to risk the hassle and expense?

The very best work. It goes with the old adage of, ‘you get what you paid for’. Will you get that little gem at the local garage sale? Maybe. But the odds are not in your favor. The most talented and experienced logo designers do not often participate in these contests and probably won’t. You often hear of the little legends of the Nike logo being created for $100.00 by a University of Oregon art student, but those situations are rare and often not repeated. That’s why they’re legends.

An inexpensive lawsuit. For example, in the case of All Citi Pawn vs. Citigroup, All Citi Pawn, in Brooklyn, NY has been sued for trademark infringement by CitiGroup. They claim that the logo design in question has a few too many similar elements with the well-established international trademark. Citigroup has not taken this lightly and in the suit is seeking all of the business’ profits since it adopted the All Citi name. Ouch.

It’s not to say that this will happen to everyone utilizing the crowdsourcing route, but it very well could. And that is not worth the risk.

An ongoing relationship. If things work out well, there could be a great long term business relationship started. However, if all you know about logojammer1234 is that he works out of Ghana, odds are the connection will be brief. The more you know about your business contacts, the more trustworthy the association.

Graphic design is a service business, and nothing gives a designer more pride than to help its customers business grow and thrive. With your success, the designer reaps the benefit of those successes, too. It’s a win-win situation.

Trust. When you read some of the parameters to the creative briefs on some of these sites, you see phrases like, “I know all the templates out there so don’t even TRY to submit anything like that.” No one wants to get burned, but are these the type of people you want to surround yourself and do business with? I know I don’t.

Trust is not something easily earned, and without it there really is no relationship and certainly no thriving business.

A good fit. Unfortunately, logo design is not an off-the-rack kind of situation. Although you may be able to find something that fits you in the store, was it made for you? A truly tailored logo can get you far more compliments, attract more customers and give your business the longevity it needs and deserves.

Fit not only applies to your logo, but also your logo designer. If you’re looking for a logo character in your mark, are you going to hire a designer that does mostly typeface and abstract shapes? Hopefully, not. Not all logos designers are created the same. Like anyone, they have their strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to research that by reviewing their portfolio. If you don’t see the style you’re looking for, ask them if they have any of those examples. They just might.

OK. So where can you find professional,
qualified logo designers to help you in your quest?

Here are a few places to start:

1) Twitter

2) Twibes/Logo Design

3) Logopond.com

4) Behance.net

5) Design:related.com

6) A recommendation from a friend or colleague is always nice, too.

Note: Like I mentioned before, this is a good start but by no means all of the possibilities for finding the right people.

What to look for:

1) A website, profile or online portfolio, preferably with a range of styles.

2) Most professional logo/graphic designers use their real name with an avatar, or they make no secret of it in their profile or blog comments.

3) Any professional design organization affiliations such as the Graphic Artists Guild or AIGA. This is good, but not required.

4) A little background information is always nice, especially for the work.

5) On online presence in more than one place, such as Twitter and Logopond.com, etc. The more the better, so you can easily research their background.