It’s tempting for new and even established business owners to try to save time and money by securing a logo through design competitions. But this strategy is risky, as well as unethical, writes Robin Ridley of Parfait Studio.
We all know that launching a new business takes boatloads of time, money, and brain cells…but hatching a new vegan business from scratch demands even more from its owner-to-be.
Since these ventures sprout from an overwhelming desire to “do something” about the plight of animals, humans, and this planet we all share, the stakes often feel monumental.
We’re personally and professionally invested in our efforts to raise awareness, reduce suffering, offer an exceptional product or service, and pay the bills. This constant juggling act is both invigorating and exhausting!
Getting off the ground can seem like the hardest part, when every decision you make is vital to the future of your business.
If you’re a restaurant owner, you invariably make sure your chef is the (non-dairy) cream of the crop.
If you’re a fashion designer, you tirelessly seek out top-notch vendors and materials.
And, when it’s time to lay the rock-solid foundation for your brand’s image, you effortlessly hand off this task to the lowest bidder.
Shouldn’t you explore the options for logo design as thoroughly as you researched the other key components of your business?
When you’re pinching every available penny to get things up and running, it’s tempting to cut corners on items that seem to fall lower on the priority list.
As a vegan business owner myself, I get it: every little bit helps. That said, budgeting extra dollars for your brand identity can pay off big-time and help you avoid a PR nightmare.
To be fair, I think crowdsourcing is just the ticket for certain tasks. If you’re looking to raise funds for a worthy cause or get a quick ride downtown, Kickstarter and Uber are awesome resources.
The fact remains, however, that crowdsourcing websites such as 99designs, DesignCrowd, and Fiverr have dumbed down logo design to the point where it feels almost as mindless as ordering office supplies.
But is that such a bad thing? I mean, why not let dozens of hungry creatives fight over the privilege of branding your brainchild?
Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons to reconsider crowdsourcing your vegan logo:
1. You know that your logo can make or break your business, so getting it right is crucial.
As the highly visible ambassador that represents everything your company stands for, your logo should be more like a well-loved mascot than a half-baked afterthought. I’ve said it before: we ask our logos to do a lot, so it’s vital that they’re crafted with care.
Crowdsourcing freelancers, who take on logos for as little as $5 apiece, are paid pennies per hour to crank out a finished product. Do you think they’ll spend much time considering (or caring about) your business and brand? Plus, they’re not always required to disclose their education or experience, so you won’t get a complete picture of exactly who you’re hiring.
Finding a graphic designer who’s a perfect fit and paying that person a reasonable fee shows that you value both his/her time and the importance of your logo.
2. You don’t want to be sued for intellectual property theft.
In order to use, license, or trademark your logo, you must be able to prove its authenticity…and be absolutely certain that it wasn’t plagiarized or “borrowed” from another designer’s portfolio.
Sadly, intellectual property theft happens all the time in the crowdsourcing realm: freelancers feel an overwhelming pressure to produce, and make bad decisions. Since they’re encouraged to submit entries to as many “contests” as possible, this means quickly churning out dozens of sketches, and it’s tempting to take shortcuts.
Current law dictates that the author of a work (in this case, the designer) also holds its copyright. While these rights may be legally transferred to the client, if it’s discovered that the artwork was actually stolen or obtained without permission, your business could be held liable for the theft. Not a nice surprise.
3. You recognize that feedback from a designer is an important part of the logo creation process.
If blog trolls and road rage have taught us anything, it’s that avoiding anonymity is a smart choice!
By minimizing human interaction, a crowdsourcing model values convenience over communication. Only the “winning” freelancer is paid anything for his/her work, and that person receives a fraction of the industry-standard wage.
So, if you request a revision from an overworked and underpaid individual, you’re likely to get it with no questions asked and little discussion about how to implement the change. That may sound great, but an ongoing partnership with your designer enables a natural give-and-take of ideas during the creative process.
As opposed to being an order-taker, a qualified and well-paid freelancer is much more likely to present their best work and respond thoughtfully to your feedback.
In short, interacting with an engaged human being ensures a better logo.
4. You value originality and don’t want to end up with another company’s logo.
When no one picks your brain for the hidden bits of your backstory, your brand could suffer from a cut-and-paste approach. Crowdsourcing creatives frequently recycle their designs to maximize cost-effectiveness (i.e. pay the rent), so that seemingly one-of-a-kind logo you select might be modified and sold to another unsuspecting business owner, just like you.
Another tip: when the first headline you see splashed across a crowdsourcing website reads, “Get a trendy logo!” that’s your cue to run far, far away. While it’s tempting to pounce on the latest look, save those urges for your social media images and short-term marketing strategies. Logos are all about the long haul. They should be clear, distinctive, and memorable — timely but never trendy — and always original.
5. You want to support a likeminded business.
As an ethical entrepreneur, you want to partner with the right people. That’s why you invest so much time and energy researching and recruiting the best possible staff, vendors, and consultants to support your vision.
When vegan business owners actively seek out other vegan business owners who care deeply about humans, animals, and the environment, it’s a win-win-win. A creative professional who embraces a compassionate lifestyle understands your unique challenges and shares your goal of building a better world.
A likeminded designer is tuned into the vegan community and — whether or not your audience is predominantly plant-based — has industry insights that can help your business grow and flourish. A faceless freelancer doesn’t. (Bonus points: you’ll never be quizzed about what might happen if you’re stranded on a desert island!)
If even one of these five reasons hits home, it’s probably smart to steer clear of the crowds and rethink your branding strategy.
The most critical piece of your company’s image shouldn’t be placed in the collective hands of strangers.
We have so much riding on the success of our vegan ventures — more than professional pride, bragging rights, or a bottom line.
In the end, it’s about funneling our time, talent, and energy into a business model that promotes kindness and unwavering ethics over everything else.
After all, we certainly didn’t become vegans because we were eager to blend in with the masses. We did it for the coconut milk ice cream, the smoky tempeh bacon…and the craving for a more compassionate world.