Jaci Russo appears weekly on Acadiana's Morning News.

Crowdsourcing seems easy but it won’t fix your brand

The practice of using freelancers has been around since the beginning of the advertising industry. Agencies have relied on available talent to boost their production abilities during times when there was more work than people to do it. It’s also a great way to ‘test drive’ a relationship with a potential employee. Both the agency and the designer have a chance to experience working together before either side commits to a full-time relationship.

The internet has made the practice of hiring for a project even easier. There are hundreds of websites that run contests for everything from logos to brochures. You write a description of what you want, post an amount you are willing to pay for it and then people from around the world submit their entries in the hopes of being chosen and winning the money. The practice has now been dubbed ‘crowdsourcing’ and there are even agencies built around crowdsourced talent – no full time designers on staff.

You do a little bit of work writing the brief and then you receive hundreds of logos to choose from for a fraction of what you would pay an agency – sounds great right? Wrong. These are the reasons why Crowdsourcing your work is a really bad idea for your business.

  1. Strategy – Successful logos are built on strategy. Who is making sure that the logo will work on a strategic level? If the design is coming directly from your brief then it might be too close to your opinion and not get a good 30,000 foot view of your entire business.
  2. Consumer – If you are writing a brief about your business from your perspective, who is looking out for your consumer? Who is making sure the design will compel them to choose you instead of the competition?
  3. Pay – So hundreds of people are working for free in the hopes that they will win a few hundred dollars. Are you sure that is the level of talent that you want working on your logo?
  4. Experience – Most of the people that participate in crowdsourcing are students looking to increase their portfolio or hobbyists that are self-taught on Photoshop. More often than not, they do not have the ability or experience to be working on such an important project without the guiding hand of an art director.
  5. Trademark – There have been a number of instances when work that was submitted violated trademarks, in some cases it’s been alleged that it was done on purpose.
  6. Recycling – Without proper pay, designers don’t have a lot of time to spend creating custom work that will connect with the consumer. Instead, they submit recycled work that a ‘real’ client has rejected.
  7. Research – Great logos are great because they are researched, WELL researched. Lengthy discussions with management, employees, and most importantly consumers goes a long way to getting a feel for the industry and company. The brand identity has to connect emotionally and that won’t happen from a pretty logo. That comes from really knowing the consumer and the company.

These are but a few of the reasons why crowdsourcing – logos or ad campaigns – might produce pretty work but it won’t build a brand. To build a bond with the consumer, you really need to have insight into who they are and what compels them. Don’t waste a few hundred dollars and get something that won’t work. Make a good investment on your brand identity – it’s important.