Is crowdsourcing all it's cracked up to be?

Is crowdsourcing all it's cracked up to be?
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Why a $500 logo design could ultimately cost your business much more

According to research 46% of people say that a company’s design determines credibility­, yet brand identity, or look and feel as it’s known in the industry, is frequently on the chopping block when it comes to finding ways to cut costs and eliminate waste.

Competition-based design websites are cleaning up these days, offering cheap, quick fix solutions to your design woes. Sure, a $500 logo design sounds like a great deal, considering many quotes you receive can be in the tens-of-thousands, but what costs are you really saving at the end of the day?

Here’s the core issue; think about how these design sites work. It’s a competition between people who need to win otherwise they don’t get paid.

Spending time discussing, or positively criticising your brief does not do them any good. When the time comes to give feedback, all you will get is a series of yes men wanting to please you in order to win the competition and move onto the next job, not someone willing to have a hard conversation to get you a result.

Another feature of a design competition is that you will receive dozens of options to choose from. Before you throw your hands up in excitement, consider the fact that it’s no easy task sifting through the bombardment of examples, trying to filter the good from bad. Presumably this isn’t your strong suit – otherwise why would you hire a designer? Leave the tedious tasks to the specialists who live and breath a world of fonts, spacing and pantones and think about the opportunity cost. What is your time worth and how you could better spend it growing your business?

Most importantly, a commonly bypassed stage is the in-depth research and discussion around your business, your audience and your category. Without this key information all your ill-informed designer can do is take a swing and hope they connect. Suddenly, that initial small investment in design has wasted countless, costly man-hours and left you with a weak, valueless asset – which can do more harm than good.

At the end of the day, the point of your look and feel is to visualise the public image of your business. When done effectively, it can shape consumers' perceptions and expectations through celebrating your brand personality and values. By leaving your brand in thehands of someone who isn't invested, you will end up with something generic, predictable and ultimately powerless to penetrate the market. 

This scenario is increasingly common these days as budgets tighten. Temptation to take a chance with the cheap option is strong and understandably so. However, in the long run your brand identity is not the place to be cutting corners. So in a fast-paced world, saturated with content from multiple platforms, people aren’t reading – they’re scanning, and unless you can visualise the right feeling up front, you’ll blend in with the noise.

Ivan Langham is head of design at Step Change Marketing.

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