Why Crowd Sourcing is Bad for Your Brand

Seemingly out of the blue, twice in one day last week, Crowd Sourcing design came up in two separate conversations. Once with one of my printers, and once by my son! Both thought it sounded like a great idea for us and asked if we were in the business of being in the Crowd that gets Sourced. My reply? Crowd Sourcing S&*ks!


But Why?, They asked.

For the simple answer, I have three points:

1: It’s degrading to the industry.

Would you call three plumbers and ask them to fix your pipes, only offering to pay the one who you feel did the best job? Of course not. Now, why would you have less respect for the design of your brand than for the pipes that carry your waste water? (Visit No-Spec for more information on this topic) And by the way, we love and respect practitioners of the plumbing arts here at Phases.

I am not saying that Crowd Sourced logos are all bad, or that designers who participate in Crowd Sourcing are a bunch of jerks. Sometimes you get lucky, and find a good designer who puts out a good logo. But that’s only luck, which brings us to my next point.

2: It’s just dumb luck if you get a good design.

When our clients tell us “WOW the logo is perfect, I can’t believe you were able to get us not only exactly what we wanted, but something that works so well!” I say thank you, and give them applause as well. For a great logo (or other branding project), the client contributes indispensable hard work, helping us complete research on the industry, audience demographics, competitors, and all of the other analytic data that we gather to do our work. At Phases, our clients play an integral role in every project, especially during the initial Discovery phase of the job, and these are the parts (the client-designer relationship, and a good Discovery) that get short-changed in Crowd Sourcing.

No matter how pretty or “cool looking” your logo is, if it doesn’t match to your business needs and goals, and isn’t strategically designed to play a key relief roll to your audiences pain points, it will not work for your business. Speaking of working for your business, let’s chat about the third key point.

3: Ever hear about copyright?

Yup, that’s a little legal thing that allows others to sue you for using art they have rights to. With Crowd Sourcing you have no real way of knowing that the designer didn’t put the same art up for consideration with another company, or if they used stock art (which you can’t legally use in a logo), or if they even just stole the design from something they saw. And then there’s the designer’s intellectual property rights as the creator of the art. So who owns your logo? You or the designer? Can they reuse part of it in another design?

I have not read every T&C clause on every Crowd Sourcing site, but let the buyer beware. You have no relationship with the designer, you have no way of knowing if they are reputable… you have no way of knowing that they will not permanently damage your business.

But you only have a $300 budget you say?

Yes, even small businesses need a logo, and we know it. That’s why we’ve developed a small business branding package that serves as a launch pad for for start-ups and local companies. But it’s not a $300 solution. If you’re truly working with a $300 budget, get your business plan worked out, understand your audience and competitors as best you can, and write up a brief. Then, go to the local design school and ask for a student who is in their last year of studies. They will design something for you that you have legal rights to, is geared towards your business, and should fit your $300 budget.

If you’re serious about your success, consider looking at small business packages that include a logo, stationery, website, and messaging  that will serve as a valuable investment for your brand. Consider, would you rather waste $300 now on a logo that is basically unrelated to the real strengths and needs of your brand, or invest $5,000 that will reap long term return (read profits) for your business?

1 thought on “Why Crowd Sourcing is Bad for Your Brand”

  1. Ok. This ha quite changed my perspective on crowd-sourcing. I’ll think more about this and delve more into the morals and ethics of it. Thankyou.

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