Why Logo Design Contests are Bad for Business

Why Logo Design Contests are Bad for Business

By business, we mean your business – unless you are in the logo design contests organising niche.

In that case, we are sure it is working out really well for you.

However, if you are doing anything else and need a professionally designed logo try to avoid the lure of logo design contests.

On their face, logo contests look pretty solid.

  • Instead of getting one designer to work on your logo you will have 20, maybe even 30 of them competing for your cash prize.
  • It is a pretty much hands-off approach – you give the instructions and pay the winner, and that is it.


logo design competition


In the end, what can go wrong?

Logos are little graphic tidbits that nobody notices, right?

Pick any one and be done with it.

However, is that true?

Regardless of the reasons stated above, do you sincerely think that logo design contests will yield any positives results?

Do you want your business represented by a logo that was dreamed up in 15 minutes or less by a high school student looking to score $100 quickly?

If you run a legitimate business, or if you are planning to, then that is something you do not want to do.

Besides, the concept is demeaning to a whole industry.

Would you stage a copywriting contest?

Or best inbound marketing strategy competition?

Of course not.

However, for some reason, businesses feel it is legitimate to pray on weak and inexperienced designers and cut costs by paying peanuts for someone’s work.

Even businesses without moral reservations about logo design contests should try and steer clear of them.

Just ask yourself one thing: how much value do you place on your brand identity?

Keep Coca-Cola in mind when answering this one.

1 – Whom are you paying?


logo design contests


Do you think that professional graphic designers are sitting around and browsing the internet looking for web design contests?

Real experts know the value of their work and would never stoop to that level – even if they are starving!

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Which they are not – a good logo designer is worth their weight in gold, and they know it.

Even mediocre designers steer clear of online design contests because they are well-aware of the fact that their chances of winning are slim – their chances of getting paid are even slimmer.

So who’s participating if not experts?

Really sorry to break this to you, but logo contests are usually populated with people who have absolutely no experience in doing logos or thinking about brand identity.

They are full of individuals who have been backed into a corner and are looking for a way to make ends meet; or others who think that online design contests are an easy way to make a buck.

These people might have some skills – mostly with free software you can grab off the internet right now – but they are not the ones you want to work on something that will make or break your brand.

Coca-Cola was built on their brand.

It is so recognisable that the logo was not significantly changed in 100 years.

Wouldn’t you like to have a logo design worth $74 billion dollars?

2 – What are you getting for your money?


Professional Logo Design Contest


Have you ever worked with a writer or a designer before?

A professional who takes pride in their work?

If you have, then you are aware that they’ve sent you more emails and Skype messages in a two week period than most of your relatives and friends do in a year.

That is because they need to get to know your business inside and out!

This is also imperative when it comes to logo design.

Drawing a logo is easy: you can do it in under an hour even if you are using crayons.

However, getting to an effective logo solution takes time – time to think about usage, concept, company, target audience, value, and all that.

Professional logo designers take the time to come up with a right solution.

If they are unclear about anything, they’ll contact you and set the record straight.

Contest entrants will not go to all that trouble – and they cannot.

You usually leave a short brief with instructions on logo design contest pages, nothing else.

At best, you will get entries that are dazzling and stunningly beautiful, but have little to no connection to your business – they are unusable.

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In most cases, however, you will get a half-attempt at a logo that looks like it was done by a colourblind preschooler.

What you actually pay a logo designer to do is – The time they take researching your business and getting to know the ins and outs of what you do.

Researching your audience to see what they respond to best and basing their design on that.

Questions they ask you – every question they ask gets them closer to designing a perfect logo.

How many questions do you think clients get from artists working on their logo on a logo contest?

Close to 0, I can guarantee that.

Sketching – a professional designer will submit dozens of sketches with minimal variations to see what appeals to you the most.

They will test them and, in collaboration with you, decide on which ones to work further and which ones to abandon.

These three points differentiate real logo designers from contest entrants and to get things right; it is important to take time.

What’s the amount of time spent on an average logo design in a logo contests? About an hour, give or take a lunch break.

3 – Does usage even come into play?


Cheap Logo Design Services Inkbot Design


When organising a logo design contest, most businesses focus on the creative part – how it should look like, shapes, colours, and the overall feel of a logo.

Very few briefs go into the nitty-gritty technical details that are essential for the success of the projects – frankly, even if you provided your tech specs most contest logo designers would fail to understand them or would dismiss them immediately.

However, this aspect of the project is crucial.

How will you use your logo – on the web, in print, on huge billboards?

Will you be superimposing it over images or will you use a plain white background?

Alternatively, maybe your background will be black?

The devil is in the details and so is the success of your logo design.

If you are using a logo design contest, expect to get a JPEG that you will have to adapt to your needs – a bit more work for you as there is no rest for the weary, right?

4 – Pick a winner – and be ready to revise it


Logo Design Contests are bad


If by any chance, you manage to find an entry that is up to your standards – if you have any, that is – don’t think that your job ends with paying for the design.

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Most of the time you will get something you like but can’t be used in its current form.

This means that you will have touch it up – change colours, play with the font, rearrange bits and pieces; sometimes even re-haul the whole thing, keeping only the concept you paid for.

This can be done internally if you have someone who’s a decent designer.

Most businesses, however, will have to hire out to get this work done.

This begs the question: if you can do it in-house, why even hold a contest?

Moreover, if you’ll end up paying for re-touching the logo, why not hire a professional logo designer right from the start?

JC Penny held a massive logo design contest, but it was mostly for branding and marketing purposes than anything else.

They promoted it heavily and turned it into a campaign.

In the end, they kept the concept, but it was edited so heavily that it was completely unrecognisable when compared to the winning entry.

In a nutshell, if you are doing it for branding or social media recognition, go for it but if you need a quality logo that’s going to differentiate your brand then be prepared to pay for it.

While holding logo design contests can seem like a good idea from the budget perspective, save yourself – and your business – time and money and get a professional to do it.

Sure, you’ll pay a bit more upfront, but you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you are working with a professional who will have your back and will be able to deliver a logo that will become a cornerstone of your brand identity.


Your logo is an investment, not merely an ‘expense.'


Author Bio: Tom Jager is a professional blogger. He works at Royal Essays. He has a degree in Law and English Literature. Tom has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him on G+ or Facebook.


If you wish to discuss how we can develop your brand or provide graphic design for your product or business, email us at: [email protected]

Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.

T: @inkbotdesign F: /inkbotdesign


  • Mizanur Rohman says:

    Actually, I want to create a branding logo design contest
    So can you help me

    I can’t find professional sites. So please suggest the best websites for a logo design contest

  • I’ve found this article and I’m so glad I did. I can understand why people don’t think logo design competitions are a bad thing, but from a professional’s point-of-view they are detrimental to our profession. It’s bad enough there are websites such as Canva, but where I am (Botswana) these competitions risk killing the industry. The two elements that worry me are the fact organisations are not taking the design industry seriously and therefore not investing in the industry. Cash prizes are usually quite small and might send the winner on a holiday or on a shopping spree, but a real payment could help develop an agency. It could give them the finance to create jobs and subsequently help dozens of people rather than one. I’m also concerned that if one prominent company sets a competition for a rebrand, what’s stopping other companies following their example? If clients start setting their own prices and requesting work via competitions and speculative requests, then the industry is dead. If you need a car, you don’t approach car dealers with a competition stating how much you’re willing to pay. You don’t approach hospitals with competitions to operate on you. So why do people disrespect the design industry?

  • Great post! These type of logo design contest are great for when you are starting up, to build a portfolio so you have some semi-real projects to showcase, however I cant see how people can make a living off them! Too speculative in my opinion.

  • Byron says:

    I don’t really agree with this. I can see why some professional designers find it demeaning, but then you also find plenty of professional designers on these sites – myself included. Designers are also known for their fragile egos. I am a well experienced, professional graphic designer (8 yrs) that most would consider to be very good at logo/graphic design. I certainly have standards and I most definitely value my work. Saying we “stoop” to some lower level, by trying to make some extra money at the same time possibly creating the next big brand, is quite insulting.

    I joined 99designs in November 2011, and it’s fair to say that my designs weren’t great when I started, but after lots of practice and learning from other designs on the site, I improved very quickly. Yes, there are a lot of amateurs using the sites, but they have to start somewhere and begin to learn, just as I did. After a couple of years I worked my way up to platinum status on the site, which you only achieve through assessment of your work and you satisfy a certain high standard. So now, I only enter platinum contests that pay in excess of $650 USD – similar to what I would charge anyway. The contest holders know, that when they open a platinum contest, that it will cost more, but they will get a much higher standard of entries. A lot of them are probably like myself, self-employed and work is a little scarce at the time, or they have some spare time. Therefore, if you find logo design comes naturally to you, you don’t have to invest a great deal of time, and there is a possible, decent reward at the end of it. It is certainly not a mass collection of inexperienced amateurs.

    These views are based solely on my experience with 99designs, I cannot comment on other sites that promote contests. The way their brief is built gives you plenty of information to go on. Designers are not researchers, like most, they don’t know the inner workings of a construction company, or a law firm. But an experienced designer that takes note of what’s around them in the world, will know the sort of look a bank logo should have, or what shape and colour a social media logo should be. I think saying you spend weeks or months on a logo is just a way to charge an obscene amount of money for something you’ve basically just blagged.

    What is this research they are doing? Emailing people? Going on to the streets to ask passers by? Of course they’re not. They’re probably just doing what most designers do, ask who their competitors are and use their common sense. Saying you’ve done weeks of research is only to justify the thousands of dollars that are being charged for something that could have done in a day. I understand why. If it’s a big client you’re working with, they want to know what all their money is being spent on, so you need to fluff it up and show them it didn’t just take a few hours. Sometimes, clients even prefer to pay $20,000 over $500, when both could have provided the same result. The 2012 olympics logo was reported to cost $625,000. The Nike logo cost $35, the equivalent of about $200 in 2016. It was created by a graphic design student at Portland University in 1971. Which was more successful? So who’s to say a company can’t avoid being ripped off for thousands of dollars, and still go on to have a successful brand? Nike didn’t have the choice of a logo contest in the 70’s, but I bet they would have use one if they did have.

    You are always going to get people that break the rules, re-hashing a stock image and calling it their own. Or the ones that even copy other original designs in the same contest. These people lack originality and are likely to ever make anything well known.

    What I do find cheeky, is there seem to be a number of agencies using the site as a middle man, and what I can only imagine is pass the designs off as their own creations. If you’re creative agency, do the work yourself. If someone wants to pay a premium price to work exclusively with one agency, that’s what they should get. And these are things lacking with contest sites: personal treatment and no customer service (other than on the part of the website itself).

    At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. A logo for $400 and up, should hopefully be of a high standard. If you go to a designer and pay that amount without looking at any of their previous work, then expect to take a risk. If you’re going to look for a logo on places such as Fiverr, then you’re asking for trouble. Chances are they have either a) used a stock image, or b) it’s an awful design. I’m not trying to compete with people on Fiverr, I’m not even trying to compete with people that charge $50. I charge $450 – $650 for a logo design, I offer a professional design and great customer service. The only time I use 99designs is when I have some spare time, I see a contest that I have a good idea for right away and I take my chances. Yes, if that client had come to me exclusively, I could have charged $500, or even a thousand. But they didn’t. When I started out, I did have some of my designs for sale on pre-made logo sites. But they are a waste of time. No one wants to pay any more than $75, and it’s just not worth your time. If anything is demeaning to designers, it is sites like these. It’s the difference between buying a cheap suit of the rack, or having one tailor-made to fit you perfectly. Some people just choose to be smart about it and get a quality, tailor-made suit in Thailand, instead of paying thousands for the same thing back home.

    As for not uploading the correct file types, on 99designs at least, it states that designs must be in EPS format and files are not accepted otherwise.

    It’s the designers choice how they want to make a living. And I think the only ones that moan about it are the ones that are ridiculously overcharging people for something they know someone else can do, just as well, for a fraction of the price. If you can convince a client to pay $20,000 for a logo, then good on you. There will always be clients that are prepared to pay it, and will most likely even brag about how much it cost them.

    If I was starting a new business, I’d be more inclined to give a good up-and-coming designer a chance to create my brand, and compensate them properly when my brand became a million dollar business. It shouldn’t just be large agencies getting all the glory.

    Some of us don’t want to be part of the machine.

    • Tiago says:

      “The way their brief is built gives you plenty of information to go on. Designers are not researchers, like most, they don’t know the inner workings of a construction company, or a law firm.”

      That’s the problem: designers should indeed do proper research. Product designers have learned this much earlier than graphic designers, but you read any trustworthy book about graphic design methods and you’ll see the difference between what you are calling research and what research actually is.

  • Asim Rai says:

    So true! I really hate logo contests and the sites which sells the ready made logos! This are only diminishing the value of the graphic design. I once had a client who told me to do the logo for him, so I sent him the questions for my research purpose and also told him for meeting and all before I tell him the price but he wanted to know the price first and I gave him the minimum price that i’m charging. Later he says he can get a logo design in 5 dollar. I replied Good for you lol.

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