Cognitive Information

How to run a logo contest for a small business

First, Why Run a Logo Contest?

Hopefully you saw the previous post about starting a logo contest and you are wondering how and why I chose to run a logo contest.  For most small businesses, it will boil down to a tradeoff of time AND money, not time OR money.  If you have lots of time and buckets of venture capital cash, then by all means hire a top designer, sit through interviews, fill out design briefs, review several rounds of drafts, narrow the field to a few top designs, review prototypes and choose a winner.   The job of the designer is to take all of what you say about the brand and turn it into visual symbols which will mean something to your customers.

Comparing costs for a logo:

Traditional design firm:  $2,500 to $4,000 for a logo.  When you add in designs for letterhead, business cards and other designs the total will often be over $10,000.   These firms will spend time crafting and image that communicates your brand.   They guarantee that the design is unique and that you will receive full copyright protection for all graphic elements in the design.

Online design firms:   Logo packages range from $295 to $2,500.  Again, if you add on other products, they are each priced separately.  These firms specialize in logos with fast turnaround.   Most of the sites I reviewed offer a number of preliminary designs, most have very limited number of revisions, full copyright transfer of the final design.

Online Pre-made logo designs:  Logos start at $99.  These are pre-made templates with some unique graphic design and if you like it you pay the website and they will substitute your company name in the logo.   Even if they claim to take the design off their website once sold, there is no guarantee that they won’t sell the design to your competitor through one of their related websites.

Logo Software:  $29 and you too can be a logo designer.  Read my previous article and see the logo I made which was basically just squiggly lines and the company name.   Heck, send me $29 and I will send you some squiggly lines above your company name.

Logo Contests:  Logo designs range from $100 to thousands, depending on the prize money you offer.  There is a wide range of websites and each has unique features.  Fees range based upon what features, length of time of the contest, promotion tools and privacy options.   I recommend visiting several contest sites and reviewing their contest entry form for ideas you want to discuss in your Design Brief.  For $400 USD in prize money plus associated posting expenses, I ended up with over 400 design entries.

Running the Contest

Allow yourself some time.  With over 400 entries, I had to set aside about a half hour each day during the 7 day contest to review entries, assign scores and make a few comments.

Working with Designers:   First, I’m very technical and they are, well, artists.   Many of the artists were very creative and had multiple entries, usually along a theme.  I often had to direct them back to the design requirements to stay within the guidelines such as company color, intended usage and type of logo desired.

Scoring:  Taking time to score the entries is important because it tells artists what direction you like and what is fitting with your design requirements.  The artists don’t get paid for their time unless they win the contest, but they do accumulate points on the design site based upon your scoring.    For the design site I used a new artists needed to get at least three designs scored above 50 (out of 100) in order to progress to the next status level on the site.

Make Comments:  I took time every evening to comment on the designs as they came into the contest.  The design community was quickly responding to the comments with new or refined designs.   I was amazed at the number of entries that would come in the following day, building upon the comments and previous designs.

Eliminating Designs:   When designs are clearly not meeting the design spec or in some cases were just unprofessional, the design contest site allows the contest holder to delete the design from the contest.

Picking a Winner

In the end, I narrowed it down to what I considered the top designs and sent a survey to my TAB board, a trusted group of advisors who each own a business.   Their comments were as important as their vote for a winner.  One comment noted that a design was combining gears with with bicycle sprockets which irritated the engineering part of his brain.   Since I target large companies who often have many engineers, his comment helped eliminate a ‘negative’ connotation in some designs.    Overall the comments helped pick a winner and our new design.

Finalizing the Contest

The contest website facilitated copyright document signing and transfer of files.   We did end up buying the runner up for $100, just in case there are future problems with the winner’s design.

Finally, drum roll please… The winner is:



Remember, the artists are unpaid for their time and effort unless they win, so taking time to score and comment is being respectful of their time.   Overall, I may not have saved time over a design firm but I think the tradeoff was worth it for the abundance of creativity in a crowd-sourced design.


Tags: ,

One Comment to "How to run a logo contest for a small business"

  1. […] UPDATE:  See part 2 of this series here ‘How to Run a Logo Contest for Small Business’ […]

Business Intelligence & Data Warehouse Consulting

%d bloggers like this: