My design process is a thoughtful one. There is a reason behind every decision. There are no shortage of companies offering cheap, crowd-sourced, instant solutions for logo design. For some companies, entities or organizations, a crowd-sourced logo may … suffice. But if you know your industry, competitors and target audience, chances are, you are aware that design needs to be a more serious consideration.
Crowd-sourced design (including so-called “design competitions”) and stock logo resources fundamentally go against my personal philosophy. The ‘designers’ who participate in crowd-sourcing are more about quantity than quality. Multiple submissions are often appropriated or ‘reused’ from elsewhere on the web in order to increase the chances of getting ‘picked.’ There’s a false sense that clients are getting the most for their money because they may get quantity but unlikely to get quality. The results are mediocre, at best, and generic because these logos are created to easily ‘fit’ companies in any number of industries. You will get what you pay for.
I must discuss design competitions, too. Simply put: I don’t believe in them. They fundamentally devalue the graphic design industry as a whole. It’s a way to, once again, get numerous submissions offering (if you’re lucky) a small cash prize and the promise of ‘exposure’ to the winner. For designers who agree to submit work they will likely never be compensated for, it shows how little they value to the years (and tuition money!) spent on their education. The promise of exposure is also a load of crap. A design competition audience is already the wrong audience to expose your work to. Participating designers are already selling themselves as someone who will work for (almost) free. This doesn’t set them up to meet clients that will respect and value their work. From where I’m standing, choosing the design competition route – particularly for something as important as your brand identity – does not say good things about your company. It’s exploitive, arbitrary and cheap-looking way to find very important design solutions.
It’s also worth pondering whether a crowd-sourced logo is truly what you want to be identified with for the next five, ten (or more) years.
Great overall design that your company can truly OWN will not come from “the mob.” It comes from thoughtful consideration of who you/your company are and where you’d like to be. A good designer starts by asking you good, relevant questions and doing research about your industry and your competition. Design is a rigorous process — if done correctly. As Marty Neumeier said, “A good brand icon (or logo) is like a well-tailored suit —it should only look good on you.” The words/phrases you choose to describe your company matters to the design process and should be part of the research phase. A clear, thoughtful message about your company is only enhanced by great design and a strong visual vocabulary. This visual vocabulary (a.k.a. all your brand’s visual elements) is part of what a good designer will help establish for you. This design process will not be possible to achieve through crowd-sourcing. When your overall message is clear and logo strong and your audience’s experience of your brand is positive, brand loyalty actually has a chance to build. This makes having a strong foundation for your brand a worthy investment.