Now There’s Another Option: Crowdsourcing

If you’re a small business on a tight budget (and what small business isn’t), you don’t have many options for creating a logo. If you’re lucky, you’re good friends with a graphic designer who agrees to give you a seriously reduced rate on a custom logo for your business. No designer friends? If you’re the seriously DIY type, you can always spend $75 for a month’s access to Adobe Creative Cloud, then another $35/month for interactive lessons from How-To site Lynda.com. Before you seriously consider this option, you should expect to spend about 20 hours of following along with the video tutorials before you’re even comfortable enough to begin working on your own logo. Even then, don’t expect much more than geometric shapes, basic colors and perhaps some pre-loaded font options. Translation: Not a great option.

Another option is to hire a freelance designer to do it for you. This is the route that most take, and can be a great experience ending in great results if you a) find a truly talented designer with good ideas, or b) have a great idea yourself and can articulate it very, very clearly. Either way, you end up spending a pretty penny, even in the best-case-scenarios described above. If you miss the mark on either, you could end up with a time consuming, expensive mess that no one is really happy with in the end.

But there is another option that’s started to pick up some momentum over the past few years: Crowdsourcing. For those who’ve yet to “tap the power of the crowd” it can be an intimidating notion. Basically, you’re submitting some basic information about your brand, as well as any general ideas you have of the direction you want it to go, then trusting that a bunch of strangers can come up with a fitting visual representation of the company you’ve worked so hard to build. So yes, it takes a leap of faith. But let me give you a few reasons why you should try it out:

#1 – Variety

Each designer has a unique style. If you find one that matches yours, you’re off to a great start. If not, you could be in store for a few “creative differences” that ultimately result in lower quality work. The great thing about crowdsourcing is that you get a bevy of submissions from different designers who each apply their own style to your brand. Then you get to choose the ones with enough potential to evolve, as well as the designs that go “back to the drawing board.” The variety of submissions forces you to expand your thinking, even if all it does in the end is reaffirm your initial concept or idea of what the logo should be.

Here are a few Madison Children's Museum logo submissions
Here are a few Madison Children’s Museum logo submissions

#2 – Cost

Crowdsourcing your logo (or other design work) is a very economical alternative to the options discussed above. CrowdSpring, for example, has logo packages starting at $269. $269 for a variety of original logo submissions, with as many revisions as you can fit into your pre-determined project length (typically between 2-4 weeks). No single designer can offer you that. Only a crowd can accomplish that.

#3 – No Commitment

Money back guarantee Still not sold on crowdsourcing as a viable alternative for logo creation? Would a money back guarantee change you mind? Believe it or not, many of the top crowdsourcing sites are so confident that you’ll like your logo that they’ll refund your money if you aren’t happy with the results!

Tip: Some sites will give you an option to “Assure Your Project” meaning you guarantee to pay the winning designer when the project closes. If at any point throughout the process you see an option that you’ll be happy with, I strongly recommend you choose this option if you haven’t already. This will encourage more designers to submit entries, and you’ll be give even more options to choose from!

#4 – (Relative) Anonymity

Normally I hate strictly digital working relationships, but in this case it may work to your advantage. Unless you’re one of the few who’re able to speak your mind regardless of the situation, the anonymous nature of crowdsourcing makes judging your submissions an emotionless process, instead choosing based on results alone. While this isn’t as compelling a reason as the first 3, it definitely contributes to the quality of the end product.

Contrary to what some of you may be thinking at this point, I have no hidden agenda against graphic designers. In fact, the opposite is true. Often I think that hiring a designer results in highest quality work.  In addition, I have several designer friends and am constantly impressed by the talent and professionalism from local designers that I’ve worked with.

Rather, the intention of this article is to enlighten you of another viable option for logo design. The low cost makes it affordable for virtually any business. The crowd approach is perfect for those who aren’t set on a single direction and would like to see a variety of options. The anonymity takes emotion out of the equation. And the money back guarantee eliminates any monetary risk.

One final piece of advice, which holds true for both crowdsourcing and working with a freelancer: be involved. Make your opinions known early and often. Describe what you like and what you dislike about each revision. Designers aren’t mind-readers, so clearly communicating with them each step of the way will go far in ensuring you come out of the process with exactly what you’re looking for.

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