Crowdsourcing – A Costly Brand Epidemic

crowdsource image

Imagine you’ve started a business. The budget is tight. All of your money is going into your storefront. Renovations, bills, and of course, you need business cards., signage…advertising… You have to get your name out there!

You’re in a hurry to open your business, and to start making some sales. Oh, shoot. You realize you need a logo. You think, “Can I just use Helvetica?” Nah, that wouldn’t stand out. You decide you’d like something a little bit more…maybe an icon with bright, bold colours so that you’ll stand out from everyone else.

Where can you get a nice logo for a really low price? Crowdsourcing!

You google crowdsourcing websites and see all kinds of beautiful designs. You’ve found a few images that could work well. Using the filters online, you’ve typed in your business name and BOOM. YOU. HAVE. A. LOGO. And, it only cost you $39 US. Can’t beat that.

Next step, business cards. Oh, you know that place that your colleague used for cheap business cards? YES. You can build your business card online just by customizing a template. Once again, you find something that you like online. A nice template with some swooshes and swirls on a double-sided business card. Using their filters and tools, you add your brand new logo, type in your name, address, phone number, gmail address, webs…shoot, no website yet (that’ll be later as you have plenty of savings now! On a roll!)…but you have social media accounts. Better key in the handles for facebook and instagram, too. It looks pretty good. Now for the print options… You don’t really know what the paper thickness is, or how the finishes will turn out, but hey, everyone likes shiny. Gloss it is. You place your order, and wait for your business cards to arrive.

This branding thing is a piece of cake. Who needs designers? They’re overrated, and why spend the money when you can do everything yourself?

All is peachy.

A few weeks later, you walk into a knowledgeable design and print company (ahem…Blue Monster Creative) to order some signage for your storefront. Your grand opening is 2 weeks from now. Better get on top of things! You have a black awning so you just want your logo icon and the text placed on it. You hand the designer your business card and point out that it has your logo on it.

DESIGNER’S NOTE:

Here’s where the learning curve happens. As designers, we see this often. If we were to scan a logo from a business card, and scale it large enough for a sign, it would just be a big blur stuck on your storefront awning.

– Tina Irvine, Blue Monster Creative

The designer says it’s not a problem, and we can take some measurements, then asks if you have a high res digital image, preferably vector.

Uh?

Oh yes, you have the logo files! You tell the designer you’ll email them over as soon as you return to the office.

There. Sent.

An hour later, the designer contacts you and says they can’t use the file. The file is a bitmap (pixelated) image, and they’d still prefer a vector. What is this “vector?”

DESIGNER’S NOTE:

There’s basically two image formats for print – pixels and vector. Photographs are built up of little tiny digital squares called pixels. Vectors are digital images made up of nodes and anchor points. As you enlarge a photo, it will lose quality as there becomes less information per pixel. Vector images retain quality and can therefore scale up almost infinitely. You always want a vector logo. .pdf, .ai, or .eps files are generally safe.

– Tina Irvine, Blue Monster Creative

You tell the designer that’s all you have. Now what?

The designer explains that they should be able find the same, or a similar font, and can recreate your logo for you. The icon has some intricate parts so it will take a bit of time.

How much time?

DESIGNER’S NOTE:

The famous question: “How long will this take?” We’ve never built your exact [logo, business card, flyer…insert anything] before, so we don’t know. With our experience, we can fathom a guess to give clients a rough idea, but that’s the best we can do. (Anyone have a crystal ball?)

Here’s the kicker – If we overestimate how long something will take to create, do we lose the job to someone who underestimates? Maybe someone else will rush through and do a really poor job. If we underestimate, do clients hold us to our estimate (Note: An estimate is not a quote)? Usually.

The best thing to do – and what I strongly recommend to any client – is to trust an experienced designer. At Blue Monster Creative, we have literally decades of experience. You’re going to get the most thorough quality. It’s best not to rush a designer as they’ll either have to take shortcuts and hand over something they’re not happy with OR they’ll spend a few extra hours and feel taken advantage of – working for free. If you choose our designers, understand that we want the absolute BEST for your business. (Most professional designers do). That’s always our goal.

Trust is huge in any relationship – even business relationships. We have many clients that we enjoy working with, and we can see their businesses flourish, and even win branding awards. They trust us, and we enjoy helping our clients and their brands kick butt.

– Tina Irvine, Blue Monster Creative

You’re fine with the time and cost needed to recreate the logo. It needs to be done, and you want it done right (that’s why you went to Blue Monster Creative, of course).

You’ve just learned one potential issue with crowdsourcing – file types.

You have your sign installed and everything looks fantastic! Business is going well.

A customer arrives and tells you a really funny story. He was just in a business yesterday in a neighbouring city, and get this – they have the same logo as you! But, your store looks much nicer (that helps to lesson the blow). So, you check out this store. Yep, same logo. They carry different items… but won’t people get confused? What if the other company has a bad reputation? You creep through their social media accounts. It looks like they’ve been established for a few years. You stop to read the reviews. 1 star…a couple 4 stars…but mainly 1 and 2 star reviews.

The other business is only an hour drive away. If they see my logo elsewhere, they’ll relate it to my company. This can’t be good.

You’ve just learned the second potential issue with crowdsourcing – impressions are invaluable.

You head home for the day. Over the last 6 months, you’ve put a lot of time, and money into your business. You’ve purchased a logo, business cards, signage, updated your social media accounts…maybe you have a website, or stickers with your logo on in-store items, maybe postcards circulated with some promotional items. You started a business and the long-term goal is to expand. How can you possibly expand, when buddy in the other city could be ruining your reputation?

You could rebrand. That would cost hundreds, if not thousands!

You’ve just learned the third potential issue with crowdsourcing – rebranding is costly.

We can’t stress enough the importance of good branding. If you want to put time and money into a new business, with a long-term goal, please make the initial investment upfront. Your logo is one of THE most important decisions you will make. Choose wisely. Make it clever, make it unique – and if you can’t design your logo, choose a designer who knows what they’re doing.

Be CLEAR about what you envision. Don’t say you don’t know what you want (Please. lol). You know. You know what you don’t like, and what you like. You know what your company is about. You know its purpose, the target market, and the impression you want to give. Give the designers inspiration – a sketch, other logos that you like the appearance of, a few fonts you like…give them something. The designer will have a much better feel for what you want, and you’ll be much happier in the end.

– Tina Irvine, Blue Monster Creative

Now, you have a tough decision. Or, you’re happy that you’ve read this article and have decided to steer clear of crowdsourced logos. (I didn’t even mention language and communication barriers, time zone differences from whomever designs your logo, nor potential copyright infringement!) Need I say more?

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