46 Responses

  • I have a small freelance business and this post was really eye-opening. The typical route of hiring a designer was the only way I thought I could make my own branding for business cards and web graphics. The only issue I could see with crowdsourcing the logo would be the need to hire a designer after the contest was over to perhaps refine the original design or make any changes to color or font for branding a product with the logo. I’d be interested to find out more about how or if making products like t-shirts, pens, stickers, etc. actually promote market visibility. Do these techniques work?

    • Michelle, yes, if you have a budget for a 6 month marketing campaign, and you can afford to hire an agency, then it is smart to have the agency launch the contest for you, and then create all your digital assets from the logo. I would work on your promotional strategy with t-shirts, pens and stickers, AFTER you have built a solid web presence. Both at the same time is a good idea too, but in my opinion you gotta put on a suit and tie before you head to the party, etc, in other words, you need to polish your web presence before you present it to everyone on the internet.

  • As a small business owner, I really appreciate the tips and information offered by this article. Designing a logo that is eye catching but maintains a level of professionalism and creativity can be overwhelming for someone who is not an artist. I honestly did not know where to begin, and I thought hiring a professional would be too expensive for me. Holding a design contest is a brilliant way to not only give yourself ideas of what you want for your logo, but also gives you several options to choose from. I did not even think about how using the public for a contest would also be an excellent marketing strategy. Thank you for all the awesome information!

    • John, running a poll on Facebook asking friends and family to vote on 3 potential new logo designs almost always results in a viral post with many people commenting. This happens because everyone loves to give advice. 🙂

  • Crowdsourcing has always been an option for fundraising projects. It makes sense that folks are outsourcing logos! Using inexpensive sites like fiverr is a hit and miss for logo design— and usually a miss! My brand, California Beach Dog, is a legacy brand in honor of my dog, Cali. It was important for my team to find a logo designer that connected with our subject matter and meet all of our design requirements. The end result is okay, but I feel like if designers had been competing, I would have gotten a better quality design. I really like the idea of the money back guarantee offered by the crowdsourcing platforms. That is extremely important, especially when you have a brand that is near and dear to your heart.

  • Logos are important to any business and creating one can be fun. At first, I tried to make one myself but I couldn’t so I went to a designer to create mine. The other sources are good to use as well. When you go to a designer that logo is yours forever and it can not be duplicated. Crowdsourcing is a good idea for small business owners who are just starting out and having a contest is a good way to choose your logo. I use my logo on all of my products and websites. I don’t know what I would do without it.

  • I totally agree with you on the usefulness of crowdsourcing a logo; it’s a really simple way of spreading the news of your company and/or product, and while getting people involved and invested in your work; even freelancers or logo designers could be potential customers. However, I think that a better personal investment, especially for someone who’s building a startup, is to begin to build those skills yourself. With all the information on the internet, it’s relatively simple to learn the basics of graphic design and aesthetics. That being said, though it is really useful to learn to do things on your own, if you’re short on time, definitely hire someone to help you out!

  • It is a great blog that shares knowledge and provides unique information, and I enjoy reading it. Although 99designs is more expensive, the site is easy to use and is home to a lot of talented designers. You can also get printing services at Designhill, so you can get everything done under one roof. It’s a lesser option than 99designs, but it’s less expensive.

  • About five years ago I was hired to do a logo for my employer and had a difficult time. She would only let me hire someone off eBay and I’m sure you can imagine the difficulty I had with that. At that time I do not think either of us realized the importance of a logo design and went with the one she liked the best out of the choices we were given. I have never heard of crowdsourcing before and it is good to know that there are multiple options out there. While. Marketing your own product in promoting the content you will be marketing their platform too which gains both businesses attention. When I looked at the comparison of logos when using crowdsourcing the after logos was much better.

    • I didn’t even know you could get a logo from eBay? I will have to look into that Mary. Thanks for your comment. 😉

  • Well, there are many bad eggs out there who will not stick to the contract signed when getting hired but not withstanding, there are some amazing designers who over deliver. All you need to do is find one and when you find one, hold them and don’t let them go. Meanwhile when hiring a designer to work on your projects, offer a kind of percentage upfront payment that can server as a kind of leverage. Something like 40% of the project will do.

    • Jonathan, yes, that is the other huge benefit, these crowdsourcing sites offer 100% money back guarantee, so the risk is essentially ZERO! That said, you can’t keep launching contests and then requesting a refund, they will kick you off their platform.

  • Designing a logo can be time-consuming and tedious. I honestly never thought about doing a contest and I never considered using Crowdsourcing as an option. The examples you provided show that there are people out there that have the time and talent to make sure that my logo can be elevated! I also appreciate your design tips. Sometimes the logo designing process can become overwhelming with so many different options and variations. I also never thought about the colors of each logo and how they affect people psychologically! Great points were made and extremely helpful for people who are needing logos for their products and/or businesses!

  • In life, most times the hardest decisions to make are always on the ones that seem as insignificant as possible but within them lies a lot of headache.
    As simple as choosing a logo might sound, this article has broken it down so much and has personally enlightened.
    When you are not financially stable or in a financial pickle, I think picking a freelancer to do your logo is a good idea. Truly there are many terrible freelance designers that aren’t skilled but at the same time there are some that are exceptionally good and quite affordable.
    I have worked with a few and I was really impressed with the quality of their work.

  • Dear Taylor,
    Thank you for such a great comparison and review article. I have been using 99Designs for about two years now. Funny story, I did not know it was a Vista Print Company. It is still a slightly more expensive option as you have said with the PRO subscription and a package for Logo design up to $799. The good thing, is the large number of their designers. However, sometimes you may run into designers who get inspired from people posting their job at the same platform. It is still overall an amazing platform and I did meet a couple of great designers so far. Thanks for the article and all the tips, as always.

    • Rebecca, yes, I use 99designs still as well. I started using 99 designs when they first came out, but over time, the contests were hit and miss. Interestingly, I learned over the process of doing many contests, that part of the reason why I was not getting a good result, was because I was “over-explaining” what I wanted, which caused the designers to get confused. Now when I launch a logo contest, I simply keep it very broad, and tell the designers to use their creative intuition, and in a sense, let them take the lead, and almost every time, they come back with much better results.

  • I just started a business myself, and I don’t pay attention to this kind of stuff! I always thought that creating a logo is a piece of cake, but this article sheds a new light, design-wise and marketability. Great article, Taylor!

  • Hmm… Now that I think about it, maybe Crowdsourcing is the best option if you want a professionally designed logo for your brand after all. Unlike working with a well-known graphic design agency, I think that the cost for logos is slightly cheaper with Crowdsourcing. In addition, with this method, we can host contests and select the best design for our brand.

    Sure, there are cheaper options as well than Crowdsourcing. One of those is hiring a graphic designer from freelancing websites. HOWEVER, there is no guarantee that you will get what you expected. For example, even though freelancers at a particular website are to post their sample works, there is a possibility that these freelancers will showcase designs that are not theirs in the first place. Thus, you will only end up disappointed as you received a design that is not according to what you’ve requested.

    So overall, I think Crowdsourcing is the best choice when you want a logo for your brand. Not only you get to see the designs beforehand through hosting a contest, but you will also be paying your money’s worth. Thank you so much for your advice, Taylor.

  • For my businesses previously, I had hired a freelancer to design logos for me. As mentioned above, this was a time-consuming and frustrating process. I ended up disappointed and out of about $100.00. I had never heard of using crowdsourcing for logo design, but believe I will use this in the future. Additionally, I liked the visual representation of the different emotions associated with the color palettes chosen in the design. I think this is an important element that is often overlooked. I like the idea of getting outsider opinions and voting on the final product. Having a great logo is such a big deal in building brand awareness and elevating your brand!

    • Krissy, same here, I love the avalanche of ideas that comes from these contests. The logo is the most important part of the entire branding process. I actually launch 2 and 3 contests when I launch a new brand of my own, and I gladly pay the contest fee, because it’s worth the money to get so many perspectives.

  • Hello,
    It’s really great to know that there’s another source of getting good logos. I once needed a logo and I got a freelance graphics designer who did the job but not to my satisfaction. I did request for another logo, and what I received wasn’t too different from the earlier work. Having different designers creating various logos for a brand is definitely a better option, so one doesn’t settle for less. Crowdsourcing and it’s accompanied contest sounds like a very interesting way to get a logo. Thank you for this information.

  • Hey Taylor,
    As much as I try to avoid it, a logo does need to be professionally made. Everything that I come up with never looks as good as what you can pay someone.
    Thanks for introducing me to a small step of crowdsourcing, instead of going straight to paying lots of money.
    In the long run, are graphic designers going to be as high quality with crowdsourcing apps?
    I do see that logo contests are a good way to keep costs down, but I wonder if serious graphic designers turn to it for revenue. Love the inforgraph about color and emotions. The logo says so much about the brand!
    Thanks again!

  • Hey Taylor! This topic is such a great one. As a fresh and new business owner, I quickly learned a logo was important. It communicates what you are about and pulls in clients all at the same time. Developing the right logo can be hard. When I started I was exactly sure how to communicate my vision to a designer clear enough. I knew more about what wasn’t it instead of what was. In the long run, I was ghosted as indicated in the article so you are speaking STRAIGHT to me and even worst I definitely fit the shoe string budget criteria that you referenced too. Crowdsourcing a logo had never crossed my mind. You hear of businesses starting and you assume that all the work and creativity HAS to come from inside the “house” when that’s really not true. Looking through your distinct comparisons here dealing with popularity and results, I think I would personally choose Design Crowd. I went with this option because it pulled the best part of 99, good designers and it’s extremely affordable. I appreciate you mentioning the downsides to this. Many people won’t show all sides of the equation but it’s part of assessing which direction is best. The fact that there isn’t a package and you have to hold each contest separate could be a major drawback for someone starting up. As far as my own business which sells services under one logo, it’s perfect and I’m sure there are plenty more business owners who agree. It makes me wonder what could be done about adding packages to these sites and if they would be open to that possibility for those who still want affordability, flexibility and crowd sourcing but need a set of matching designs? This was such an eye opening and informative piece and I’ll definitely be sharing!

    • Thanks for your comment Olivia. It is important to find an agency who can help you with a full service approach, after you get your logo designed. I would not recommend trying to do a contest for every single brand asset. Your web strategy needs to be totally in sync and firing on all cylinders to get a positive ROI, and having one team managing everything is the best way to go.

  • I wish I would have had access to information like this a few years ago when I went through the whole logo design process. I wouldn’t say I was picky, but I knew exactly what I wanted. However, after repeated correspondences, I ended up spending way more money than my budget was set up for. It was a hard lesson to learn, but now I have some knowledge in my toolbox for my next business venture. Thanks for all the info; it can help a lot of people who are in the logo stage.

  • Hey there,
    So this is actually a great read for me because the fact I never knew people paid this redivulous amount for a logo.
    I personally own a business and made my own from an app and it’s pretty damn well outlined.
    As well as apps now a days for logos on my social media people are making great graphic designer style logos 10/10s for 30$. This was very eye opening and next time I see a logo I will wonder what actually went into that logo design 10 minutes on a app or 9k in a graphic design team

  • While I think the general idea of crowdsourcing seems interesting, I have a couple qualms. For example, if only the winner makes money, what of the other competitors? Graphic design takes a lot of time and effort, and at the of the day, losers or not, it’s still unpaid labor. I’d also like to know if there are protections in place for losing designs. While I know your coming from a buyer standpoint, as a worker, I would caution the way you describe the “traditional process”. While I know it can be difficult to get what you want, Graphic designers are often subject to abuse from clients with no line of defense, and end up either losing out on time, or money.

    • Annabel, it’s a good point you make. Being a logo designer myself, I was not thrilled when these design contest sites starting coming out. However, crowdsourcing and marketing automation is happening in every sector of business, hence, finding a different, more connected way to add value is important. This reminds me of how everything thinks they are a professional photographer now because the Iphone camera is so advanced. The new iphones have made everyone a photographer, and what photographers need to do is learn video. If you have a multi-discipline skill set, you will make yourself invaluable to business owners. For example, not just helping with logo design, but an entire web strategy, bringing all the pieces of a web strategy together for a business owner. Thanks for reading my blog!

  • I didn’t realize how much thought and effort went into designing a logo prior to this article. It seems most important that a business consider their time and budgetary restraints prior to selecting their creative design outlet, be it crowdsourcing or an agency. It seems like the benefits to hiring an agency to design a logo would be that the resulting product is more professional and considers colors or trends, yet crowdsourcing may result in a more creative approach. I think crowdsourcing would be both a fun way to involve potential customers as well as a good source of marketing.

  • Yeah because paying graphic designers less than minimum wage because they’re “too expensive” is surely a way to exploit-I mean hire more freelancers…

    • Lillie, crowdsourcing and automation is taking over everyone’s job, not just graphic designers. If you’re a seasoned graphic designer, it would be smart to pivot and offer a wider range of services, or cater to a specific niche.

  • It’s hilarious how I relate with your storyline of the traditional process of designing a logo. As a start-up local business owner, I really struggled in visual arts and ended up hiring my nephew to do my logo. As expected, it’s not that catchy and not effective at all. It seems to be a work of an amateur graphic artist. O well, I can’t really blame the kid since he is still venturing. Thank you for giving me such detailed information on what crowdsourcing website I should use. I will totally check on this and try to have my logo redesigned.

    • Yes, this reminds me of a quote: “If you think working with a professional is expensive, try working with an amateur…”

  • Ten years ago I started a small business selling make ups and ready to wear clothes. I must admit that I had my share of challenges selling them at a price that they deserve? One of the reasons is that my products doesn’t have a logo that is why people perceive it a cheap or low quality. It was my aunt who told me to focus on my branding by creating my very on logo. At first I was hesitant because it an added cost and hiring a designer was not within my budget. I am glad that there are informative articles like this one that helps educate and empower business owners to develop their own brand and make a difference in the consumer market. Taking time to choose and make your own logo makes a big difference in the way you market your products and services. Also there’s nothing wrong in changing your logos every now and then as part of your marketing strategy.

    • Your aunt is a very wise woman Leika! ; ) Changing your logo “every now and then” is a good way to go out of business. The cost of re-branding your business, as a result of a logo change, is very costly, because the logo permeates throughout the entire brand asset folder. This is why it’s important to choose your logo wisely.

  • I haven’t thought of crowdsourcing, but it makes sense. Artists get more creative when faced with a challenge, so I think a contest would result in a higher quality, more unique result than a someone at an agency who’s working on multiple assignments at once.

    A topic not really touched on, though, is how contests benefit the participants: a new business might not have capital for traditional advertising yet, while talented freelance artists are trying to build up their portfolio for marketability. Promoting contests on social media achieves both while trying to design the branding. I think a follow-up blog detailing the larger exposure benefit to small businesses and design artists via crowdsourcing is worth exploring.

  • I’ll admit, as a small business owner, there are definitely things I dread whenever I need to outsource graphic design. But I have found that crowdsourcing projects helps lessen this pain. I’ve used a couple of companies you mentioned in this blog and have had the most success with 99Designs, ultimately due to the wide variety of talent and sheer volume of designers they employ. But when it comes down to it, whether you use a traditional designer or crowdsource, the designer’s work on the project is only going to be only as good as the specs and how you communicate your vision.

  • Taylor,

    While Crowd Sourcing sounds like a way to get the most amount of options provided to you in a short amount of time, you shouldn’t discount the value of commissioning artists. Commissioning art definitely does take more effort. You have to research artists, scan their portfolio, and hope they are open for commissions. That said, you’re likely to find someone who works quickly, has a rush order option if need be, and communicates openly throughout the process. Plus, if you’re pleased with their work and later decide you want some changes made, it is easy to reconnect and discuss possible alterations. There’s definitely a benefit to crowdsourcing, but supporting small commission artists will always be a preference of mine.

  • I would much rather have people competing for money prizes to create a logo because there are more creative ideas forging together as well as increased incentive. In an age where logos are more important than ever before, it’s important to have many different designs and combinations that fit the generation more rather than relying on one more powerful source. In addition, companies can always take favorable or preferred qualities from one design and mix and match it with others through these online marketplaces for creativity. I am a huge fan of democratizing logo designs!

    • Chris, crowdsourcing, it seems to me, is a smarter way to do almost anything. The collective brilliance of a group, is better than relying on the brilliance of a single person.

  • Wow, that’s all I can say right now. The fact that there is people actually paying up to 700 for a logo is kind of mind blowing. I’m no where near a proffessional and have made my own logo from an app for free. People on my Facebook have made some of the most proffessional logos I have ever seen and only charge 30$.
    So honestly this read is amazing for the amount of input it conveys but the fact that it’s only showing what hundreds of dollars gets you compared to people who love what they do and charge affordable prices is just uncanny thanks for opening my eyes!

  • Hey Taylor,

    In recent years, crowdsourcing has become a popular way to find help. As someone who has started their own business in the past, I wish I would’ve found someone to create my logo. There are tons of creative artists out there and these sites do a great job of highlighting them. Not only does it put a spotlight on up-and-coming designers, but it can also be inexpensive for business owners, however, I’m glad you pointed out some downsides of using these sites. I have never used these sites but look forward to using them in the future.

  • “Image matters. And having a professionally designed logo is the first step in web branding.”

    This is really true and I agree! These crowdsourcing sites will definitely be a huge help if you need your logos to be done professionally in the shortest span of time possible.

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