First let’s start with what a logo design contest is. A design contest is where a business host a contest and attracts dozens of designers from all over to create logo designs. Logo design contests seem like a great deal for entrepreneurs and small business owners. You get submissions from dozens of designers looking to make some quick cash, plus you save hundreds, or thousands of dollars and your designer gets to add another piece to his or her portfolio. Awesome, right?
Unfortunately, logo contests fail to produce the quality of work truly needed for a great logo and cohesive brand. It’s important to consider the pitfalls of using a logo design contest when branding your business. There are several reasons to legitimately invest in your branding and avoid the use of contest sites for your logo design.
Factors such as poor communication, tight timelines, and lack of design experience all contribute to the poor results of logo contests. Let’s take a closer look at why these contests don’t work.
When I create a logo for a client it takes countless hours. Not only do I have my clients complete a branding workbook and sketch before going into the Vectoring process, I also meet with them and research their industry and competitors. As an experienced Brand Strategist, I think about the larger picture, use of color, and imagery. I take my client’s beliefs and core values and weave them into the design for their brand identity. Communication and partnering with my client is huge in the logo creation process.
Professional designers will have a similar process. When you hire an experienced designer, you will generally have a meeting, so the designer can familiarize himself or herself with your business and your needs. Your designer will have you fill out a branding worksheet that identifies your business’ target audience, mission statement, competitors, and everything they need to really learn about you and your business.
When a business runs a logo contest on a platform such as 48hourlogo or 99designs, they don’t get the chance to truly communicate with their potential designers. A form is filled out and designs are submitted, meaning direct collaboration can’t happen. You may get to type up a creative brief, but this is no substitute for a collaborative session with an experienced designer.
There is often also a language barrier between the designer and the business owner, increasing communication difficulties. Logo contest sites tend to attract participants from all over the globe, and cultural differences can come into play in designs as well as grammatical issues or misspellings. You may not get submission from designers who understand and connect with western culture, and thusly may not be able to understand what you’re looking for in a design.
On top of the communication issues and cultural differences, you won’t find a professional designer putting together logos on a contest site, and you can bet your logo contest designers aren’t investing 10 or 20 hours into your design. The contestants are generally people with no experience. They won’t take the time to get to know your industry and they won’t be looking at your logo as part of a cohesive brand. You won’t get any sketches to review or color palettes to choose from, you’ll get tons of hastily thrown together submissions.
Contest designers know their odds of winning are slim to none, so they need to enter as many contests as possible to win. Experienced designers won’t waste their time and efforts because they know the true value of their work. The combination of tight timelines and inexperience results in sloppy work and usually a stock image. Sometimes business end up with straight-up stolen content.
Remember that when you’re branding your business you need to invest in your logo. It can be tempting to go with the cheapest option but consider how much you value your business and your own work. Logo contests devalue the work of a great designer or brand strategist and don’t provide the level of quality needed to truly brand your business. Businesses can end up with generic images that don’t make them stand out or communicate their company’s culture and vision. When you invest in your business and develop your brand you will bring in the customers you truly desire and successfully grow your business.