If you’re a small business with a limited marketing budget but are in need of a logo for your company, turning to crowdsourcing could be a viable option rather than going the DIY road.
The average cost of a crowdsourced logo is around 250 to $350, which can be less than half the minimum going rate for a design that is directly contracted. The adage “you get what you pay for” may immediately come to mind, however, “good design” can be a subjective thing, and if you’re happy with the results, that counts for a lot.
Here are six steps to get the most out of crowdsourcing a logo design from a small business point of view.
1. Do Your Homework First
Planning a logo design starts with Branding 101: understanding your brand personality, your business objectives, your target audience, and even how and where your logo will be used. You need to do some top-level thinking before registering on a crowdsourcing platform, but you can use tips found on these sites to guide your internal process.
When I crowdsourced a logo for a new venture, my experience hiring a logo designer was limited. Reviewing numerous intake forms helped me think through how to articulate my needs.
2. Pick Your Platform With Care
There are at least a dozen logo design crowdsourcing sites out there. You can pick one based on several factors including quality of designs and projected number of responses. In terms of quality, most crowdsourcing sites display public design contests where you can review design input and winning designs to see what resonates with you, your personality and your business needs. Keep in mind sites like Crowdspring and 99Designs promise over 100 submissions while a site like Prova promises at least 40. Limit the number of submissions to review by using smaller sites if that’s your preference.
3. Post a Clear Design Brief and a Better-Than-Average Price
Most design contests start with an intake form that aims to generate your creative or design brief. Take care to be as specific as you can and take advantage of any options provided by the site to help you present a clearer request to the design crowd — reference images, for example.
I used Prova for my logo search. I got in touch with David Bratvold, CEO of Prova, to talk about my application. My brief was pretty vague. I said I wanted “a logo that translates well in different sizes that conveys the playful, warm, human and giving spirit we embody” and for it to “Be attractive, professional yet playful, and convey positive emotions so people smile when they see it.”
Bratvold suggested that I could have added more language about the style of logo I wanted, as well as what I didn’t want. For example: “I’m looking for a stylish and professional logo that’s polished and without too much detail. Neither image nor words should overpower the other. Avoid egg clichés.” Just the last statement alone could have saved me from sifting through a number of designs that were not the right fit.
In terms of prize money, most sites provide a minimum or average range for logo design contests. If you can afford it, offer a contest prize amount in the upper range or at least something above the minimum to set your contest apart from the others.
4. Comment on Everything — Yes, Everything
Interaction is the most daunting part of a design contest. In a traditional logo design process, you work with one person who may limit you to three design ideas and help you narrow your options down to one. In crowdsourcing design, your net is cast exponentially wider, and you’ll easily receive dozens of options. You need to dedicate time to respond to each entry.
For submissions that are entirely in the wrong direction, be firm and final with a “Thank you, but this is not what I’m looking for.” If someone is on to something but it isn’t quite right, be very specific with “I like this direction, but could I see it in the color palette I specified?” Don’t lead designers on if their style is definitely off base. While most designers who participate in design contests are willing to get back to you with revisions, be very respectful of their time. Save your bigger requests for the submissions that are your most likely candidates.
I was hesitant to give negative feedback and painstakingly crafted my rejection comments to be kind but firm. I did my best to comment on every submission within 48 hours but found myself lagging behind with designs piling up. For best results, try connecting with your design crowd daily during the iteration process. This lets the designers know you’re serious and responsive. Don’t beat yourself up if your work schedule doesn’t allow daily commenting, but be present as often as you can.
5. Up Your Deadline to Turn Up the Heat
Not getting much response to your design contest posting? Barring any issues with your design brief, the lag could be something else entirely. Often on crowdsourcing design sites, designers wait until the “last minute” to submit their designs. This gives them a chance to see what others submit and what feedback you’ve provided. Consider shortening the contest length to increase the sense of urgency and up your submission rate. Keep in mind that this will also increase the demand on your time to respond to more submissions in a shorter span.
6. Pick a Winner and Close the Deal
When you are confident you have what you need, choose the winning design. Your work doesn’t end there. You need to provide the winner with exactly what file formats you need for your logo if this information was not already requested when you filled out your design brief. Cover all of your bases to make sure you get what you need so you don’t have to mess around with Illustrator or Photoshop files yourself, especially if those programs aren’t your strong suit.
One additional step that I took in my logo design contest was to put a call out to my friends, fans and followers to vote on their favorite design. I also consulted several colleagues including my programmer and one of my clients. The design that rose to the top from their input — based on a voting feature on the crowdsourcing site — was my second choice. The design I finally picked was an unexpected style for me, but it made me smile every time I saw it. I’m slowly integrating it into my work and still find it friendly and whimsical.
Crowdsourcing a logo design can be a more cumbersome process than going directly to a designer or agency. You need to decide if the cash savings is worth it. If you’re still concerned about the spec debate, a no-spec crowdsourcing option for design work is Brandstack which was covered here last year. If you don’t have the time or patience to wade through dozens of design submissions, it may be easier to consult an agency, despite the fees. If you’re willing to put in the time, however, you may just find the right logo for you for a fraction of the cost.
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Image courtesy of Bazstyle | Photography
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