Come with me on a journey where a crowd of people come together to solve a problem. It’s called crowdsourcing and it’s occurring throughout the world with more and more frequency. The quest on this journey was the search for a new logo for Halyard Consulting.
In 2010, I attended PubCon in Las Vegas. At one of the sessions an individual asked a question to the panelists. One of the panelists responded asking the inquisitor the name of his company. When he responded that it was 99Designs the panelist told everyone in the audience how amazing a company it is and that he had used them and has told all his clients to use them as well. I scribbled the name of the company down on my notepad and decided I would look it up once I was back in the office.
99Designs the Crowdsourcing Marketplace for Graphic Design
It connects quality designers with customers at an affordable cost. In 2010 they were awarded the Webby People’s Voice Award for Best Web Service and Application of the Year. Since their launch in 2008 they have hosted nearly 100K design contests and awarded close to $25 Million to graphic designers.
The key behind any graphic design success story is the client’s ability to communicate what they need. I’m not going to completely blame the client when things fail. It also falls on the graphic designer’s shoulders to ask the right questions. Going into this project I knew I had to articulate what I wanted. I knew that even before going on to the website and starting the project I needed to sit down and write out what I was expecting. The result was a detailed brief of our company, why we needed a new logo, and what I expected from a designer. In full disclosure I have a bachelor and master’s degree in graphic design so this might have been a little easier to me then to some; though 99Designs has a remarkable staff of ready and willing design consultants to help the uninitiated through the process.
Crowdsourcing the 99Designs Competition Step-by-Step
I named the project “Logo Needed for Rebranding of Consulting Company”. I knew I needed a simple yet catchy title to attract creative crowdsourcing designers. I was changing the name of the company from Market Merchants Consulting to Halyard Consulting. However, I knew I wanted to go in a complete opposite direction. So it was important the designer not focus on the company’s previous name and logo. They needed to know where we had come from and where we wanted to go. The overview read like this:
We are changing our company name to Halyard Consulting. We are an Internet Marketing company specializing in WordPress websites. Clients come to us after being frustrated with the low ranking their static sites get in the search engines. We educate them on the need to provide an audience with updated continual content and push that content out through social media. Our niche is local specific websites.
The overview is just the first part of the larger brief. It is followed by target audience. Here is what we wrote for that segment:
We primarily work with local focused service industry companies like painters, movers, and electricians. We also have an excellent reputation with lawyers. Our clients understand they need to provide content on a regular basis in order to rank in the search engines. All of our customers are geographically focused on specific areas. This is where we provide the most benefit to our clients.
Possibly the most important part of the brief is the requirements segment. Here you can detail absolutely everything you need the design community to know about your project. Here is what ours looked like:
Halyard is a nautical term that means “the line/rope used to hoist a sail”. We want the logo to reflect the concept that our company helps improve our client’s website rankings. We are the rope used in their websites sail. We help them traverse the dangerous and murky waters of local search engine ranking in order to gain success.
However, we don’t want a literal interpretation of the term. Do not use rope and a sail.
We are looking for an icon along with treated typeface. Do not use any stock images or clip art in the logo. All designs must be original. This logo will be trademarked. We would prefer a two color design.
The design should not be overly complicated. Don’t use muted or pastel colors. Do not use the Earth/Planet image. Don’t use dollar signs or cartoons.
We require the following files:
Print file format – .ai (CMYK)
Web file format – .jpg and layered .psd (RGB)
The name and look of the old company is not relevant. In fact we want to go as far away from that look as possible. That is why we are not providing the old company name.
One mistake I made in this brief and I’ve since told all my clients is that you must request high resolution finished artwork. For whatever reasons many of these crowdsourcing designers assume you only want this artwork for the Internet and that low resolution is fine. If you plan to professionally print your logo either on your checks, brochures, or merchandise you need high resolution files. Talk to your printer about what they require before completing your brief.
In addition to the written brief, 99Designs allows you to upload relevant files. I spent a couple of minutes in Photoshop drawing out what I thought I wanted and sent it along with the brief.
I had 34 entries to choose from by the end of the contest period. The final cost was $394. I had purchased the Bronze Logo Design Package plus I decided to spend an additional $99 to have my contest tweeted to everyone following 99Designs on Twitter. The Twitter message had a major impact pulling in tons of designers. It was well worth the investment.
Another way I pulled in a lot of creative designers was to guarantee the prize money. Guaranteeing a contest means you are obligated to select and pay a winner. It also means you forfeit the 100% money back guarantee. But after the first couple of days I saw the designs were moving along nicely and decided to take the risk.
The Future of Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing changes the playing field and I believe design is just the first step. Since launching my contest 99Designs has grown to offer a ton of other categories aside from logos. The real game changer will be when crowdsourcing leaps the shark and finds itself in areas we can’t even dream.
99Designs is a truly innovative company. Not only do you get a professional product but as a client you’re far more involved in the evolution of the finished piece. I love Halyard’s new logo and I’ve recommended this process to all my clients. In fact take a look at EZCFO. They used 99Designs crowdsourcing platform as well. They got a logo that was exactly what they wanted and had a fantastic experience too.
Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate