A recent article on selecting a graphic designer through “crowdsourcing” got me thinking. Merriam-Webster defines crowdsourcing as “the practice 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.”
The process is being applied to graphic design, but is it a good idea? In theory, someone commissions a design project and designers make proposals. The person who commissions the project then selects the winning design from among all entries. The more responses you get, the better, right? Well, maybe not. Here are three things to consider before you choose to crowdsource a design project.
It’s unethical. In a crowdsourcing arrangement, you’re basically asking designers to create work for free. If your company doesn’t produce products or provide services “on-spec”, you shouldn’t ask other service providers to produce work for you at no cost. As a hard-and-fast rule, professional designers (and other service providers) don’t work for free. Crowdsourcing tends to attract brand new designers who are trying to build a portfolio and untrained, undertrained and self-taught providers, some of whom work exclusively from royalty-free templates or copy and modify work taken from professional designers.
You give up control of your image. When you create one “winner,” you also create dozens or even hundreds of losers, who now have work that they created for your business. Since you asked for the work (but didn’t pay for it), the designer retains creative control of the design. He or she can put their rejected design in their portfolio, perhaps even passing the work off as an example of a successful design – which it wasn’t. The design has the name of your business on it, and it may portray your business in an unflattering or unacceptable way. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
You may be at risk of loss or liability. The adage that you get what you pay for is really true when it comes to crowdsourcing. If your winning design comes from a designer in a foreign country, for example, you give up the ability to control your design, and how it is used. If your designer decides to copy your logo or reproduce a slightly modified version for someone else, there’s not much you can do about it. If the designer doesn’t perform as promised or takes your money and disappears, you don’t have much legal recourse, as you would if you’d selected a designer closer to home. If your “winning design” turns out to belong to someone else, you’ve lost the money you’ve spent and you might also be liable for infringement.
Small business owners sometimes turn to crowdsourcing under the assumption that professional design services are too expensive. Many independent designers will work carefully within your budget to create a unique design image for your business. Grantstreet Creative offers creative retainer packages that give your business complete control over your graphic design expenses, as well as logo design, branding services and marketing communications support that are highly affordable and meet the needs of your business.
If you would like to know more about how to select a professional graphic designer, or would like a graphic design consultation, contact our creative director Dave Ramsell, or give Dave a call at (330) 243-0651.
Photo Credit: Jeffery Turner, via Flickr