You may have heard of crowdsourcing, or not. You may have considered it as a valid way to get work done, or it may just be a new nonsensical buzzword of the endless digital fray.
This post will tell the story of how we crowdsourced our new company logo (lookie! up there in the header, the sprout!), provide guidance on how to effectively use crowdsourcing, and some tips about what to avoid.
Image by Alexander Kesselaar on Flickr
What is it? Why Crowdsource?
Crowdsourcing defined is asking the “crowd” rather than an individual to provide creative solutions for a project or task. Crowd sourcing can be used for logos (like we did), but also for writing projects, branding challenges, entire site designs, secretarial services and more.
The big advantage crowdsourcing offers is a huge pool of talent all competing to solve your creative challenges. Instead of relying on one creative, the entire world literally becomes a potential pool of solutions. Crowdsourcing can also be much cheaper than more traditional creative agency or consultants. Potential creative vendors come from all over the world where cost of living can be much cheaper. Also, students and others just starting their careers and looking to build their portfolios are generally willing to work for far less than established professionals.
How it Works
No matter which crowdsourcing service you select (check out the list we have included below of companies), the basic process will probably follow to the steps below:
1. Define what you need
2. Decide how much you are willing to pay
3. Select a crowdsourcing service
4. Write and post your creative brief (what you want)
5. Carefully monitor submissions
6. Select your favorite submission, you’re done!
Getting Started: Creative Brief
You will have to tell your potential creatives what you want, and the better you describe your needs, the more successful your project will be. This description is generally called a creative brief. Go for the details, be verbose, even repetitive. The more direction you give, the better submissions you will receive.
For our logo project, we specified the colors we liked, we included an url of the site where the logo would appear, and we included some other details around the style we wanted. Other great content to include in a creative brief is a description of the company or project, the industry sector, and if possible, pointers to logos, sites or other similar work you know you like.
Select a Service
Now, check out the various crowdsourcing sites and services, and select the one you want to use.
We used Crowdspring, simply because we had heard the most about it, and frankly, they had a good interface and user experience. In general, we felt they offered a great service, a clear and easy to use process, and a wonderful pool of talented designers. We have also heard good things about 99Designs, but have not tried them yet. An exhaustive list of crowdsourcing services is available on ReadWriteWeb.
Set a Price
The next step is to sign up for your selected crowdsourcing service, pick your kind of project, and set a price for the work you are commissioning. Most services offer a minimum cost for a project ($200-$300 for a logo seems about average), and options to offer more for potentially more and better quality submissions. We choose to offer $400 for our logo. There also may be some various product charges and extra services charged, so your final price may end up higher but up to $100 or more. for example, we also paid a mandatory $60 project fee plus $39 to keep our competition private.
Personally, I think not declaring these charges up front isn’t necessary on the part of the crowdsourcing companies; the final total costs are quite affordable in any case.
Managing Your Project
We set our project length for 2 weeks, the maximum length. In retrospect, 1 week might have been long enough. Every day, I went through all the submissions, ranked and commented on each one. We received 179 submissions in all. Providing daily feedback allowed artists to modify their designs and resubmit then, and also gave other designers further direction beyond my original creative brief.
Selecting the Winner
Of all the submissions we received, there were a handful that delighted us, and one in particular that really seemed the winner. We selected our 4-5 of our top picks and asked a few friends for their feedback as well. Most people confirmed our top pick, and so we went with it. Here it is!
Crowdspring then carefully guided us through several steps to inform the designer his submission had been selected, request and review design proofs, and approve the final design files. The designer submitted as his final deliverable a zip file with the logo in dozens of file formats and potential color combinations.