In an era of 99 Designs and Fiverr, crowdsourcing has enabled anyone to get a cheap logo. And while many professional designers criticise this new reality, there is a valid place for the service. But it’s important to understand the role it plays.
Many individuals and businesses just need a logo; a badge which signifies their business at a surface level, a means to quickly identify their business from others—with very little beyond that. In this instance, the crowdsourced service can offer a fast and economical solution. However, it is rarely deeper than an aesthetic exercise, where a number of ‘options’—in response to a rudimentary brief—are presented to a client for them to choose which of the options they ‘like’ best. But these options offer no strategic recommendations aligned to the business value proposition and its market needs. Rather, it amounts to a quick fix.
That said, crowdsourced logo services can be useful for start-ups, who are typically constrained financially and are often still working things out. Getting a quick, cheap logo might be a good option to get started and once revenue is secured, and the business has a better understanding of their value proposition, it might be time to engage a professional branding designer to help visually articulate their strategic positioning to the market.
But even with logo design, engaging a professional designer to work closely and directly with the business owner can provide a vastly more successful outcome. At the very least, it can separate the process from what a client ‘likes’ versus what the business ‘needs’ and what is appropriate for the market. In purely practical terms, the designer can establish how a logo will work across various mediums, and at different sizes. And they can guide the client through the whole process, alleviating any second-guessing which might be based upon subjective decision making.
The trouble is, when it comes to cost it’s difficult to put a value on an identity which, for some people, might essentially look like a logo. But where a logo is a badge, an identity is a considered distillation of an attitude, a positioning and a core message, one that is closely aligned with an organisation’s business strategies, their value and objectives. It permeates the business language and influences all levels of communication. Where logos are often cosmetic, identities have depth—and an intrinsic relationship with brand.
Cheap, crowdsourced logos might have their place, but for those who are serious about building a brand, the value of an identity has become much more important than the cost of a logo.