Rochelle Weiner Carr - 11/02/2010 - Branding & Design / Creative Process

Down with crowdsourcing

If you're not familiar with the term, crowdsourcing is a much debated social media technique where a company sends out an open call to the internet requesting, for an example, a logo design for their new brand. Then, once hundreds of designs have rolled in they choose from these designs and pay only the winning artist.

Of course the design community hates this. It devalues the graphic design industry and the individual designer. If someone can get 100 designs from designers all over the world and only pay for one, then why would they ever use a traditional method such as interviewing a few designers, reviewing their portfolio, checking references, and negotiating a price? A few reasons:

  1. The designers - Most of the designers who respond to crowdsourcing calls are inexperienced with a lot of time on their hands, or they are living in a country where working for days for a few American dollars is worth their while.
  2. The guidance - I've seen a few logos that were the result of crowdsourcing and I have not been impressed. Most people who are hiring graphic designers do so because they don't know how to do it themselves. But if you crowdsource a project, all of the responsibility of guiding the project is on the client, who has no experience in creative matters. This person who is great at their job but breaks a sweat choosing between yellow and white in the linens department, is suddenly acting as creative director. And on top of it they are stuck directing inexperienced designers or people who may not have a great mastery of the English language. This would be a difficult job even for an experienced creative director. It's no wonder the logos usually end up looking uninspired.
  3. The experience - The designer on the other end is someone you've never met, never will meet, and comes with no references. They are probably lacking in experience and they're main goal is to work as quickly as possible and crank out logo after logo hoping one of them will catch and they'll get paid. They are not taking the time to think about your brand, your company or your goals, or to research your competitors. An experienced designer knows how to create a logo for you that will have longevity, will be understood by your target audience, and will be versatile enough to be used in all mediums seamlessly. You very well may end up with a really cool logo with gradients and drop shadows and all sorts of space-age looking stuff which will look amazing on your website but will be impossible to embroider onto the company ball caps for next year's softball tournament. Or you may end up with a logo that looks fabulous in color but turns into an illegible gray box when changed to black and white for those newspaper ads you were planning to buy. You get the picture.

In the end - a good designer is worth their fee. Your mother has said it to you a hundred times, because it's true. You get what you pay for.

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