Does your brand identity deserve design crowdsourcing?

You went to a hair salon for a haircut but now you do not find any reason to pay the barber since you did not like his work. Is this possible…well, the answer is simple, plain NO

So why do people consider it acceptable for the design industry. It is because we, the designers do not question this practice. But where do we find such activities taking place…well there are many online sites holding design contests and crowdsourcing.

We may even invite it by not questioning this attitude or acting against it. But today, I want to focus on something even more ineffective and misguided that is threatening our industry: crowdsourcing.

Hailed as a masterful way to get things done cheaply and easily for businesses, crowdsourcing is effectively digital outsourcing on steroids – a sure-fire method for getting work done on the cheap, while still maintaining control over the end product and project quality. Projects are issued, typically on one of several online marketplaces, and designers put up their spec works in order to compete with each other. The more  the entries you make, the greater are the chances of winning.

But why do the professional designers are so against it. It is because spec work, or speculative work, is the process of doing design work with no contract or any guarantee of getting paid – If the client likes it, he’ll use it and pay you for it which is relatively unfair.

Crowdsourcing has become the hype in the art world; be it designing or photography but it has raised many controversies among the designers, the clients and the forums.

The yet new but popular outsourcing method has its own downsides:

  • In this business, neither the designers give their best nor do the businesses receive some great art pieces.
  • Usually the business won’t be able to find expert designers as they try their utmost to avoid these forums. Therefore, the business stuck with amateur designers who may not be successful in providing creative solutions.
  • The professional designers do not take part in such forums as designing becomes merely a decoration piece rather than a problem solving or branding object.
  • There is limited role that merit plays at this marketplace and the winner is selected based on personal appeal rather than on fulfilling the design criteria.
  • Wastage of time-as businesses have to spend days to pick up a suitable design from the piles of available options.
  • Clients risk compromised quality. Little time, energy and thought can go into speculative work, which precludes the most important element of most design projects-the research, thoughtful consideration of alternatives, and development and testing of prototype designs.
  • Not personalized/customized work as there won’t be a background research. They won’t look up at your business plan, your company mission, your background, your way of dealing with people, and many other aspects your brand.
  • 30%-35% participants withdraw so the forum or crowdsourcing platform fails to deliver what it had promised
  • Since there are many amateur designers on these websites so there is probability that these designer might copy ideas from somewhere else so you may end up with identical designs.
  • Lastly, the business will fail to find the same designer when posting new projects so it will be difficult to get the collaterals designed that our consistent with the previous project.

Even after several pitfalls, the business model has succeeded for its cost-efficiency and variety of options. Cherished and loved for accumulating a large number of designers who will contest to get best designs in the shortest time and that also at the lowest prices. But even then do you think is saving money through crowdsourcing worth the experience? Should a business invest large amount of time and energy to get a usually mediocre design for his brand?

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