I was recently part of a little online skirmish in which a good friend of mine announced on social media that she had “hired” 99 Designs to develop a new logo for her business. The reason I’m using the word “skirmish” is that bad feelings were had by all. Designers in her social circle piped in with heated and disagreeable comments, and my friend ended up feeling like she was under fire for her business decision. But what a great discussion – one that needs to be happening these days as business and technology are ever changing.
So for starters, what is Crowdsourcing? Here’s wikipedia’s description: “Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. This process is often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, and can also occur offline. It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion to the greater result. The term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing“; it is distinguished from outsourcing in that the work comes from an undefined public rather than being commissioned from a specific, named group.”
Whether one agrees with this system of doing business or not, I’m sure Crowdsourcing is here to stay. It’s a result of technology, globalization and the world economy. It’s an opportunity for us all to choose where our priorities lie.
There is a huge difference between the two processes of working with an online design source vs. a traditional design source. In my friend’s case she paid $299 for her new logo design in the Crowdsourcing process, an online design source. In the world of “traditional” logo design, that’s an amazing low-cost price. She also got it within a few days. She got it fast and she got it cheap. But is it the same thing as a “traditional” logo design? No. Is that bad? No. It’s just a different relationship.
The thing is, most people don’t understand the difference between the “traditional” logo design process and the “Crowdsourcing” logo design process. As a designer part of my job is educating people about the design process. The current cost of a logo design from an online source, whether it’s Crowdsourced or not, will range from $30 – $300. A “traditional” designer or design firm cost ranges from $250 – $20thousand dollars. Yes, that is an accurate number. The typical amount of time it takes to develop a new logo design is 4 weeks. It’s not fast and it’s not cheap.
The vast array of available resources is overwhelming and people simply don’t have the energy to try and figure out what the best solution is. How are people supposed to choose which is the best option for them? Sometimes you need it fast and cheap, sometimes you want the relationship. It’s all about choices.
The way I view it and practice it, designing a logo is a collaborative process between designer and client. It’s a process of communication and alchemy in which an intimate relationship is developed. I learn so many interesting details about my clients when we’re developing a new logo. The details I learn are integrated into the logo design. It makes the end product very meaningful to the client and to me. This process works especially well with heart centered business owners and people who are their brand, such as personal branding clients.
When Crowdsourcing a logo design, the process is fast and cheap. Like a prostitute. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. For some, fast and cheap gets them what they want when they want it without all the complications of developing a relationship. It’s easy. And in our current global climate it’s all at our fingertips. Searching online from your computer or mobile device, you can find almost anything you want or need, almost instantly.
Traditional designers get cranky when someone goes the fast and cheap route, because they enjoy the relationship. We have a great deal of passion for the process and LOVE the exchange of ideas, the collaboration and the end result. Crowdsourcing steals that away from us. Like if your significant other hires a prostitute. Designers, like your significant other, feel cheated. Hence their cranky and emotional responses to Crowdsourcing design.
Whether Crowdsourcing a logo design or choosing the more traditional route of working with a designer, the result in each case is a product; a new logo; a mark you can use in advertising and marketing your product or service. The difference is the process and the relationship. What will you choose?