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.
- Savings are considerable – professionally designed logos go for up to $5,000, some even more. The Glasgow Olympics logo cost £95,000, and British Petrol paid theirs (complete branding package included) a hefty $210,000,000.
- It is a pretty much hands-off approach – you give the instructions and pay the winner, and that is it.
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 prey 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?
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!
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?
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 the 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.
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 logo contests? About an hour, give or take a lunch break.
3 – Does usage even come into play?
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
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.
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 to 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.
1 thought on “Why Logo Design Contests are Bad for Business”
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?