Published on July 17th, 2013 | by Josephbker


Are Logo Design Contests A Good Idea?

It seems like such a brilliant, forward-thinking idea. Have a logo design contest, submit a pitch to some local colleges, and make it available for everyone online. Maybe even throw out a press release to really stir up interest. Ideally, everyone will submit at least somewhat useable designs, and you’ll get a handful of really great logos to choose from.

However, this isn’t Middle Earth, and you can’t sprinkle magical unicorn dust on your problems. Logo design contests create far more problems than they solve, and may end up costing you more in the long run. Though it costs money, consider using a firm that specializes in logos so you’ll end up with a logo design you’ll be happy to display for decades to come.

Problem #1: The Designs might all be Awful.

When you started the contest, you agreed to use one of the designs. Now that you have them back, they’re all horrible. Your office manager could’ve come up with a better logo using Word Art from Windows 98. But—it’s too late now. You actually have to pick one of these monstrosities for the sake of holding up your end of the bargain. Have fun at your rebranding party in a year when you can launch your new, professionally made logo!

Problem #2: You may Receive Hundreds of Submissions, or None.

Which is easier—talking to a single designer and describing your needs, or sorting through 378 JPEGs and picking one that sort of aligns with someone on the team’s vision? Obviously, it’s easier to set expectations and work with a smaller batch. On the other hand, you could be faced with choosing something from just three or four designs. Though that’s all a professional who knew what you were looking for may need, you’ll likely want far more submissions from strangers, even if they are great at what they do.

Problem #3: You can’t Create a Cohesive Brand Identity.

Your branding doesn’t stop once you’ve attached your logo to everything from your website to your business cards. You’ll also need to know how to incorporate your colors into your site, design stationary, create posters and work with email templates. Think the winner of your contest is up for all of that? Probably not. It’s also entirely possible he or she will be unwilling to share details like colors, font choices and more with you, once again, creating a much larger problem than was solved.

Problem #4: The Designer Probably won’t be using properly Licensed Fonts.

As with most creative endeavors, fonts have specific uses that their creators allow. Though sites like offer thousands of free fonts, almost all of them have a “Not for commercial use” disclaimer. While it’s fine for budding designers to play around with them, using one in your logo can lead to legal trouble down the road. Understanding creative licenses isn’t exactly something you can smoosh into the contest rules, either.

Have you picked up the phone to tell your creative team to cut the scheduled logo contest yet? No? Don’t worry, this article can wait while you save yourself from the mess that’s about to head your way. Logo contests seem like a fun (and free) way to get a little press while you get a logo, but the ugly truth is that it will end up costing you far more than you’ll save.

Image credit: smarnad on

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