Getting a logo for SpokenWord.org via a contest on 99designs.com was quite an interesting experience. We offered a prize of $275 and received well over 100 proposed designs from perhaps 20-30 designers. The quality was better than I expected, and the choice was difficult. To make my life easier (or so I thought!) I posted a short questionnaire on SurveyMonkey.com and invited members of our team as well as all of The Conversations Network’s registered members for their opinions. It was on short (24hrs) notice, but we got more than 100 survey responses.
My first surprise was that the opinions were all over map. There was virtually no consistency. Maybe one or two designs were disliked by all, but the respondents’ first, second and third choices were evenly distributed across the others.
The second surprise was the number of angry messages (some *very* angry) about the whole idea of holding a contest at all. Little did I know what a can of worms I had opened. The gist of the complaints is that designers should not be asked to submit designs on spec; that any good designer should be paid for their work. One email referred to a web site that specifically trashed 99designs.com. One one hand, I see their point. OTOH, there are many professions in which ‘spec’ creations are the norm. Consider musicians and fine artists, for example. Or real estate developers. Hey — entrepreneurship and the entire venture-backed world is all about speculation and taking risks. Yes, there are commissioned-work oppotunities for artists and some houses are built-to-order, but they’re the exception in those businesses. I could have tracked down a designer and reviewed their portfolios. In fact, most of the previous logos for The Conversations Network were created by Dorothy Yamamoto, who is now retired. But I decided to give the 99designs.com site a try this time, and I’m glad I did.
The winning designer (‘mithrill’ — I don’t know if he wants his real identity to be published) got in touch immediately after the contest. We communicated via IM and we collaborated on a few minor adjustments. Within two hours after the contest, he had sent me the files, palettes, etc. Very professional. Next step is to integrate his logo and the color palette into the SpokenWord.org alpha site. Then onto a complete site design for the public beta launch for which I intend to return to 99designs.com. My flak jacket straps are cinched. I’m ready for the attack.