You’re looking for a new logo, and a logo contest seems like a superb idea, right? A bunch of really talented people are going to submit designs to you, and you’ll have your pick of great logos. This is absolutely an awesome idea! Right? Wrong. Logo contests really aren’t the way to go when you’re looking for a logo, and there are several reasons why. Most importantly, logo design contests are bad for your business, and they are bad for designers.
Let’s use the current example of Canada’s 150th Anniversary logo design. The Canadian Heritage ministry thought is would be a fantastic idea to hold a contest for design students to design the logo for its 150th Anniversary celebration which will be held in 2017, awarding $5,000 to the winning designer. This “great” idea has led to an uproar in the design community, with designers and supporters taking to social media using the hashtag #mytimehasvalue. The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) has even initiated a boycott of the Canadian government’s competition. RGD president Stüssy Tschudin states the arguement against speculation work superbly. He emphasizes, “Imagine 500 students enter the contest. Each student spends 10 hours on a design, which totals 5,000 hours of work. At minimum wage in Ontario ($11), this amounts to $55,000 worth of free labor. The fact that one of those students will receive a prize doesn’t negate all of that other free labor.” Furthermore, he questions spending money on the social media promotion of the contest instead of development of a “fair process to identify a select number of deserving candidates to design the logo.” He makes a great point.
Why Are Logo Contests Bad For Designers?
A quality logo design takes time, effort, and talent. Logo contests are essentially asking artists to use their skills, effort, and time to create a piece of art for which they probably will not be paid. In what other industry would this type of crowd-sourcing be an acceptable practice? For a logo contest, a designer is basically doing speculation work, without the option of copyright retention. Does this sound like a fair business practice?
Why Are Logo Contests Bad For Business?
Consider this. When you hire a professional designer, you are working closely with someone whom you have met. You have the opportunity to know the designer’s personality, sense of humor, and sense of style. You have an opportunity to learn about this individual’s background, to see his or her previous work, and to assess his or her skill. When you decide to have a logo design contest, you lose all of this. Your designer becomes anonymous. You have only the “winning” image on which to base your knowledge of your logo designer. You have no means of truly knowing if your designer has the background, knowledge, and skill required to actually follow your design project through to the conclusion. A good professional designer will do his or her very best to work with you to understand you, your business, the ideology that motivates your business, and your business strategy in order to create outstanding designs that are tailored specifically for you and your business. A designer who wins your contest isn’t doing this for you, and may not even be capable of doing this for you. Furthermore, you are far more likely to receive designs that have been copied, as opposed to completely original work. Would you know if your logo contest design winner had copied the design? Probably not. You have worked hard to build your business. You shouldn’t settle for a mediocre logo because you don’t happen to know any better. A good professional graphic designer does know better.
In conclusion, be fair to designers and be fair to your business. The reality is that, while it might seem fun, a logo design contest isn’t a good idea. You and your logo deserve better.