I recently discovered the logo design contest platform hosted by sites like 99Designs and DesignCrowd. While its wiser to work closely with a logo designer whose work you like, (and wiser for a logo designer to wait for a paying design gig) I can see the fun of a contest. As a new graphic designer, I am always looking for ways to practice designing. Finding myself with little to do on a Tuesday night, I perused a design contest site in search of a contest to enter.
I settled on the second contest I read. There wasn’t any time to lose if I wanted to get to bed on time. Also, choosing about the first thing that came along is more like real life. The subject of every design project is always unexpected.
The creative process behind logo design
The company wanted their logo to be bold, mysterious, and feminine. Based on the examples they provided I could see they wanted to focus on the first letter in their business name, which is “B.” I decided pretty quickly that being a make up related company, I wanted to include an element that referenced make up, and so I started with eye lashes. After some time it wasn’t working out with the eyelashes so I decided to spend some time looking at the letter “B” and scrolling through different font styles to see if any ideas came to mind. A few letters in I saw them. A profile pair of lips sitting in the negative space of the capital B. All I had to do was make them easy to see. The company wanted an air of sophistication, so I settled on a serif font and set to work on my first draft.
I was pretty pleased with this, but I wanted to try something bolder that would act as a completely unique and iconic symbol for the company. So I kept going. When I create logos for clients, I like to include different variations on a design. The jury is still out on whether this is a good approach, or whether it is better to simple present a single variation and wait for their notes.
I give myself an A on my evening homework assignment and submitted the designs to the contest. The winner will be named in about 2 weeks. The good news is my design has not yet joined the rejection pile. I’ve since noticed that in my evening rush I missed the template file I was supposed to download and follow, which will likely count against me.
Why a Contest is not the best way to get a good Logo
Let’s talk a little bit about why a contest is not the best way to get a good logo design. First of all, if you’re a feeling person, it doesn’t feel good to ask 500 people to spend their time on your logo design when 499 of them will not be paid.
The second problem is the likelihood of getting something truly unique that is exactly what you want is quite low with a logo design contest. Most of the contest winners have a gimmick. That is, they don’t want to invest hours without pay, so they submit the same idea every time. The same font style. The same effect on every icon they submit. Many of the contest designs are so similar they are hard to tell apart. But who can blame the designer? The odds of winning are very low.
It’s much better to work with a designer whose work you like. This way, you don’t get a generic regurgitation and you have the ability to give notes. As unpleasant as notes can be to receive, the end result is usually improved because of them. It’s just like the critique process in fine art education. It can be unpleasant, but your work grows and so do you.
It’s a better deal to hire a designer especially when it comes to saving time
Finding a designer to work with is also a better deal financially. For the cost of running one logo design contest, my clients get a lot more bang for their buck in terms of thought, attention and communication. The process is a lot less time consuming for the client as well. Can you imagine having to comb through hundreds or thousands of logo submissions? You’d need to hire a designer to help you choose!
Written by Diana Kohne. Diana is a graphic designer in Pasadena, CA. Keep in touch through Instagram or sign up for the newsletter below.