1. Responded on the Capital News site, but their moderation will take a while, so here’s my comments on this…

    Crowd sourcing has been around for years with well established companies such as:


    The last site is particularly popular and one of the biggest players in the game. I’ve utilized the services of some of them. It has been a learning experience, and now I have a better understanding of the system I would avoid it in the future.

    With all due respect to Terry, Doug and Arash and to Jennifer Smith to say Logo Tourney represents “actual innovative ideas might have helped save the city [of Kelowna] a whole mess of time, money and embarrassment” is absolute garbage.

    Firstly, there are no innovative ideas with the either the site, or it’s name. I’m sure Logo Tournament’s lawyers will be interested to see another company copying the crowd-sourcing business concept as well as (almost) copying the name. It’s so ironic that this article, which talks about preventing issues of plagiarism, highlights a company that has simply copied both a business concept and a name in this manner.

    Secondly, adopting crowd-sourcing opens up all sorts of legal and ethical issues. Let me explain further…

    Professional designers do not take part in crowd-sourcing for various reasons (a) the concept demeans their profession (b) the remuneration is small change (even the “winningest” designers that contribute to such services will not make a North American minimum wage) (c) industry bodies deem such competitions as unethical and prohibit members from taking part through their codes of ethics and conduct.

    If you use such a service, you are most likely employing an amateur in a developing country. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but they are few and far between. When an aggressive litigator comes at you for copyright breach, just try pointing the finger at a $250 service that has been outsourced to the developing world.

    On the ethical end, you need to be comfortable with that fact that for each hour of work put in to your project, you are paying pennies. Some people consider this exploitative. Others see this as giving opportunity for unestablished designers to develop a portfolio.

    Personally I recommend using crowd-sourcing services with great caution; when you have a person with strategic marketing experience managing the process and even then only for a logo which is for short to medium term use by an individual or small business.

    In 99% of cases I’d recommend businesses either recruit a designer directly by following the process detailed in the GDC’s buying guide OR employing a reputable marketing agency or marketing consultant with a proven track record.

    At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Skimping on the core element of your brand identity may keep a few hundred dollars in the bank, but it’s simply not a wise strategy.

  2. James, I completely agree with you that a logo is just a piece of the overall brand strategy. When I founded LogoTournament.com , I made sure that the design briefs asked probing strategic questions. Although concise, many of our customers can spend hours on our briefs as it really asks them who they want to be as a company or organization.

    I invite you to have a look:

    Our design briefs cover: what the customer does, the top three things to communicate through the logo, target audience demographics and psychographics, logo style and explanations with examples (Wordmark, Pictoral, Abstract, Letterform, Emblem, Character, Web 2.0), Color preferences with common associations in Western culture (ex: Red: Passion, Anger, Stop, Battle, Love, Blood). We also have a unique feature called Style Sliders which uses word associations like: Feminine VS Masculine, Simple VS Complex, Subtle VS Bright, Necessity VS Luxury, Exotic VS Commonplace. etc. We also cover where the logo will be used: Web, Print, Billboards, etc.

    In Calgary we have “reputable” Marketing firms that charge between $5-10K for 4-5 logo concepts by email, where their “process” consists of a junior designer doing a casual phone interview.

    and soon to be Kelowna resident.

  3. Good points Tyler. Your design process is very impressive. Well done. I really like some of the logos on your site. I assume many of them have a solid or 2 colour version for different uses?

    The “design brief” on the other hand is where things get blurry for me. The brand strategy is a lot of hard work: research, data collection, demo/psychographics, competitive analysis, core message development…. then what’s the big idea, what is the brand promising to it’s customers? These components are not about design. After this we discuss, How do we evoke the right emotions, trigger memory, etc? Colours? Fonts? Wordmark, Pictoral, Abstract, Letterform, Emblem, Character, Web 2.0? These visual parts of the process form our design brief. In our company, the different types of work are done by different people. Researchers do research. Writers work on the message, positioning statement and/or tagline. Designers create visuals. Strategists add feedback throughout. The skills and talent requirements are unique to the steps involved.

    What I’m getting at is the business owner is probably not going to be able to fill out your “design brief” very well. They will either lean towards the analytical side and focus on stats/charts, or lean towards the artsy side and dive straight into drawing logos themselves in Microsoft Publisher. ;-) I’ve seen both happen over and over again.

    Your example of Calgary marketing firms is shameful on their part. Please hang me out to dry if Twin Creek Media is caught doing something as unethical as that.

    Look us up when you move to K-town.


  4. Long time no see, Richard, and I have to agree with many of your points. You’re right about crowd-sourcing demeaning the graphic design profession to a degree, but I don’t think it’s entirely bad. For the right application I think it can be a useful tool, and for budding designers in developing countries a North American minimum wage is acceptable and I don’t mind supporting talent in another country IF that’s a business decision I’ve consciously made. I touch in this issue on my recent blog post regarding this topic (http://www.bradparsons.com/2010/03/graphic-design-crowdsourcing/). I think we need regionally focused crowd-sourcing services.

    I also agree with Tyler’s statement about marketing firms charging 5 figures for logo development while utilizing a few hours of a junior designer’s time. The City of Kelowna’s new logo is a good example of how crowd-sourced design could work well – many of these services provide voting mechanisms that allow the public to vote on their favorite design. Had Kelowna’s resident’s had the opportunity to vote on their favorite logos, I doubt there would have been such a harsh response to the council’s final logo decision.

    James, I appreciate your comments on my blog, and you point out valid points here. I think a business owner can use a crowd-sourced design and be happy with the outcome. I just feel that the business owner might not be able to distinguish between an acceptable logo and an exceptional logo. A successful design agency will act as an extension of the client’s business, with the best interests of the client in mind (even if that means a disagreement). A designer completely disconnected from the business who’s only care is to win the $500 prize will never consistently deliver the quality a good design agency can.

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