Are you thinking about a rebranding for your chamber? Perhaps a new logo? If you don’t have a large budget for rebranding, or if you simply want to get more of the community involved in the outcome, you may follow the path that a lot of companies are doing these days–hosting a logo design contest.
What Is a Logo Design Contest?
A logo design contest places designers in competition for the prestige of being able to say they designed the chamber of commerce’s logo. You can make it open to your town and any age or experience level you want.
This type of competition is becoming increasingly popular for several reasons:
- it’s inexpensive
- the contest generates buzz
- you can crowdsource an outcome
- you give someone a valuable opportunity that they can likely leverage into additional business
- people feel valued for their input
However, as many benefits as there are to crowdsourcing your logo, there are a few things to think about.
Common Chamber Logo Design Contest Mistakes
- Forgetting the electoral college. Okay, this is not a political statement. It’s a commentary on the dangers of completely unrestrained logo selection. If you’re going to use crowdsourcing to select a chamber logo aka allowing the community to vote (and you can have a contest without this type of selection process), you should narrow down the choices first and let people choose from your short list. They don’t know your business model as well as you do and they might just be voting for their friend’s design. Give them some parameters (you’re not taking “Chambery McChamberFace” logos for example) and go from there.
Note: Crowdsourcing is not essential to a logo design contest. You can host a contest and select the winning design yourself. Selecting it in-house is definitely the more conservative of the two approaches and likely to produce a better outcome for your business.
- Not creating contest rules.Contest rules should never be as basic as giving people a deadline for submissions. Make sure you decide how the winner will be selected and if there’s a “prize” for winning other than selection. Hammer out who will have the ultimate decision-making power. Will the board be involved? Is there a committee or a panel of judges? Communicate this to the community.
- Not getting rights. When someone does work for you there’s always the question of who owns the rights. This is something you want to be very clear about. Make sure that all submissions become the property of the chamber. You don’t want someone trying to sell you the logo after they win the contest. Nor do you want them to use the same logo for another business. If they retain the rights, they can use it in any way they see fit.
- Being remiss on a Plan B. Assuming you market the contest well, you should have a plethora of submissions. However, what is your plan if you don’t get the numbers you were hoping for or the ideas are subpar? Have a plan to do something different if you don’t get what you’re looking for. The Twitterverse has been savaging the new Spider Man posters for days. Your chamber is also a very public entity and people will be watching.
You can always use wording in your contest like “the chamber reserves the right to alter the final image before use” or you could work directly with the designer once they’ve “won” to change it. However you decide to handle a lack of quality submissions, you should have it in writing before the contest begins so that no one ends up thinking your contest was a fake.
- Undervaluing the profession. Free design contests are a very slippery slope. Your contest is providing excellent exposure for someone. However, no one would ever ask an NFL quarterback to play a game without getting paid. If you open the contest up to professional designers, you run the risk of offending them. “Exposure” doesn’t pay a mortgage. You need to know your community in this situation. Some people would love the opportunity, others will feel like you’re trying to get free work and undervalue what they do. In order to avoid this problem, you could open up the contest to amateurs, no professional designers allowed.
- Not providing feedback.If you’re worried about the lack of quality designs or if you get some submissions that are “almost satisfactory” give them the option to resubmit with feedback. Obviously, if you have a large number of designs with many weaknesses, this is not something you want to undertake. But if you have a handful of solid designs that could become amazing ones with a few quick tweaks, give them the option. For instance, if you like the concept but the design is too busy, tell them that.
Let the contestant know you’re looking for something that may need to be replicated in small spaces and something with less intricacy would work better. Ask them if they’re willing to make it a tad simpler to be considered. Don’t promise them the win if they do. Just make a suggestion or two. Again, if the design is way off, and you know it will likely never get to something you could envision using for the chamber, then don’t ask for changes. But if it’s a quick change that will make their logo design more competitive, give them the option to resubmit.
Tips and Additional Considerations
Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about some additional ideas for a strong logo contest.
- Providing a winning stipend. You could choose to pay something to the winner, even a gift card could work. It’s not necessary but can make the winner feel even better about their selection. It also can quiet some of the disapproving voices surrounding the undervaluing of the design profession.
- Celebrating the entrants. Another fun thing to do is showcase the entrants’ designs. You can place them on your website or print them and hang them in your window. It can be fun for people to see others’ creative ideas. This is especially beguiling if you use children to design them. Speaking of…
- Student designs. As I mentioned earlier, you can make your contest open to amateurs only including schools. If you do this, you’ll likely need a designer to bring their idea to life but you could use their design as a basis for what the designer eventually comes up with. The benefit of going in this direction is that it can generate a lot of social media buzz as parents will share their child’s design far and wide. If you choose this idea, you may want to back away from any promises of it becoming the official “logo.”
If you get good entries, you can use it as the logo (with some tweaks from a paid professional) but if you don’t, you can place the logos on your social media profiles for a short time. You will likely get a lot of engagement and interaction so make sure they’re sharable for proud parents to show their friends and family.
- Try another contest first. The pros on the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook provided a lot of words of caution for running a logo design contest. If you read them, you may be thinking twice before you host one. If you are feeling nervous about attempting something like this, crowdsource another logo or design first such as an annual chamber event. If that goes smoothly, create another one for the chamber logo. If it doesn’t…well, now you know your community just a little better.
- Don’t go visual. You can crowdsource your rebranding without someone actually designing the logo by asking for slogans and ideas in the rebranding. The act of getting taglines from others can sometimes help solidify and provide visual inspiration for you as well.
- Tell them what you want. One of the best ways to get the strongest designs is to give very specific direction of what you are looking for. For instance, you could include in the contest rules that you want the logo in shades of green and orange to designate business growth and energy. Also, let them know your chamber mission and your slogan if you have one. Talk about who you’re trying to target and what feeling you’re trying to evoke. This will bring about more targeted submissions and help the professionals communicate your vision. If you’re opening the contest only to students, it’s still good information to have.
- Run a logo design contest on friendly ground. Earlier, I mentioned the danger of upsetting professional designers with a free logo design contest. But there are some sites that are set up to allow designers to compete for your business. They’re not free but you won’t get the flack that you might get in your own community. However, you also will likely not receive the social media buzz you might if you did it among local contestants.
On sites like 99Designs or DesignCrowd, you ask designers to participate in the contest and then you rate their submission. Again, this isn’t free and might not be the cheapest option depending on the going hourly rate of designers in your town. On these sites you set your own budget. 99Designs starts at $299. DesignCrowd starts at $99.
In the end, if you decide the logo contest is just too risky without enough benefit (and I’m not saying that will be the case), you could always go to a discount site like Fiverr. But this is not without risk. If local designers hear that you are using a cut-rate site like that, they could become angry.
You could also ask someone on your marketing committee to help you turn your vision into a graphical depiction or do what government entities do and bid out the project with specific requirements the designers must meet.