This morning, I did a bit of ranting on Twitter in favor for the recent AntiSpec campaign. Since tweets tend to come and go very quickly and I wanted my thoughts to be seen, I’m putting them here in my notes.
Introductory note: If you don’t know about AntiSpec, go to their site and read up on it. Then, read about my thoughts on this particular case. No need to re-invent the wheel and tell you what it is while they have already explained the situation successfully.
I saw a tweet from Mark Collins mentioning a logo design contest by a site called “1stwebdesigner.” Typical contest: Do a logo, get a cash prize of $599. No surprises. Typically, I would make a tweet about it and be on my way.
But then, I scrolled down through the logo designs and after the first few rows, I discovered this:
Really?? Seriously, what is this?
OK, I understand that some companies want a good logo and they hope to get one cheap by doing spec work “logo contests” to encourage designers to flock to them for the “opportunity.” We know the basic problems with this. We know it’s taking away the view that designers are professionals and replacing them with the notion that anyone with Photoshop/Illustrator can do a quickie $600 logo. But, to take the few other entrants that actually want to design for the competition and insult them by publicly announcing that the logos are not what they’re looking for before the contest is over?
“We don’t want to take the time and money to hire a professional freelancer or company to design our logo. We’ve got $600 to blow on redesigning the logo and we want it done quickly. Oh! You sent some of your designs for the contest! Well, sorry, these aren’t what we’re looking for, and we want the world to know these aren’t worthy of a shot at $600.”
If you’re going to treat this like a competition, how about when a deadline arrives, show a group of finalists and hide the ones that didn’t make it? When the “contest” is over, they’ll figure out on their own they didn’t get their designs chosen. Give those people a little respect. I know the site has “standards” to what they want their logo to look like, but to publicly insult and humiliate them for trying—even if the site wasn’t trying to single them out—is just cruel. Those designers won’t learn anything that way, so there is nothing to gain from them—or anyone—entering the contest if that’s the attitude they’ll get from giving it a shot.
Contests don’t shoot down entrants while they’re trying to enter. Clients do that with spec work they don’t like.
During my Twitter discussions, a thought from Kris Noble was sent to me that I wanted to share here: “This is the problem with spec though – it encourages lots of half-baked ideas, rather than one kickass one.” This is what sites like 1webdesigner are asking for. Ironically, you would think a site called 1webdesigner would use, I don’t know… maybe one designer or company for their website’s logo. Instead, they’ve already said, “No,” to real design and the process that goes with it when they set up this contest. They are turning down potentially worthwile ideas and instead go for logo entries that blatantly rip off other companies logos (like StumbleUpon, for instance).
Want to do a logo contest? Open it up to K-12 and/or college students and give a small prize. Give those who are nowhere near the professional level a taste of what it’s like to be competitive in the business world and give them a chance to learn from it.
Otherwise, don’t kid yourself and call it what it is: spec work.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.