You’re likely to have heard of speed dating agencies that arrange group events for men and women to meet in a succession of quick ‘dates’ before moving on to the next victim (sorry! – candidate) in a round-robin format of wash, rinse and repeat. Participants decide within a few minutes if they feel compatible with any of the provided dates, and subsequent meetings may be organised for those willing to see each other again. With little time available for any true decision-making, almost all relationship complexities are totally ignored and conclusions are formed by limited and incomplete personal interaction.
Logo or identity crowdsourcing via the internet is a relatively new version of ‘spec’ design – competing with others in a contest format to win a client or project – without any payment offered, unless your work is selected as the winner. Crowdsourcing follows a similarly flawed strategy like speed dating by offering many quick options without any considered input, commitment or long-term strategy from either the client or the designer – to the detriment of the long-term viability of the product, brand or service. This commodity approach in regard to creative services is an offensive action, offering no fair comparison to the professional undertaking required for identity formulation and successful brand promotion.
The individual and tailored creative services provided by a professional designer are now unfortunately reduced to what can only be described as a ‘clip art’ approach. Yes, there are many worthy designers, both hobbyist amateur and working professional, who choose to play the crowdsourcing game, but the overwhelming majority of designs sourced via this method are undeniably flawed concepts, simplistic ‘modules’ of ill-fitting parts, inharmoniously assembled without the required care, craftsmanship or personal attention. Good design is rarely a quick and happy accident and an isolated logo design without an overarching strategy or style guide is rarely more than an inadequate icon or mark of limited value. There is no doubt that the small reward for winning a logo contest does not encourage an exhaustive approach or serious time investment, and that many of the provided options for any individual contest will be lamentable, nonspecific and disposable efforts. Even the most financially challenged clients deserve better service and strategy than this!
Unfortunately many logo crowdsourcing websites offer no ability for a client to correctly engage with a designer, as they offer only limited feedback processes that hinder the crucial communication required between both parties. The framework for the careful selection and matching of designer to client is totally missing – the ‘contest’ is a hit-and-miss affair, governed solely by price. Also, there is limited company vetting and policing of the talent pool and many unauthorised and illegal uses of copyrighted artwork have been discovered at some sites. The crowdsourcing guidelines and fine print will regularly state that they accept no responsibility for any fraudulent activity and have no obligation in any disputes regarding ownership of sourced content. Therefore, users have no guarantee regarding legitimacy of artwork and you’ll be all on your own if the copyright holder claims infringement and seeks compensation.
Groups and individuals from the design profession are attempting to hold back the surge of crowdsourcing options now flooding the internet and are providing both consumers and designers with accurate information regarding the issues involved. The following links will provide detail, comment and advice:
As communication technology shrinks the world and opens up opportunity and accessibility to many more players, the crowdsourcing option will likely evolve and grow unchecked, purely reacting to price and speed of service, without consideration for issues of professional quality, standards or appropriateness. The well-known adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is undoubtedly true when discussing crowdsourced design work – beware and be informed by reaching considered conclusions, otherwise the commodity approach may significantly impact your bottom line.