5 Signs You Should Crowdsource Your Next Design

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There are a ton of important things that go into launching your own business, and guess what? Being an entrepreneur means you’re in charge of every single one of them. Part of that involves building a network that you can rely on for help.

For one, you need a graphic designer to help you create a compelling visual identity for your brand - and the first step is a customized logo. Branding is often thought of as something that can be put off until later, when business is steady and time allows for you to focus on the process. But it’s important to create a memorable logo early on to be able to achieve that success in the first place. For many entrepreneurs, crowdsourced design is an ideal way to create a visual identity in order to launch as quickly as possible.  Here are five signs you’re one of them:

When it comes to creativity, you want options. 

What if instead of having to rely on one single designer to nail it the first time, you were able to tap into a resource that connected you with thousands of designers, dozens of whom would work on your design project at the same time? That’s the beauty of crowdsourcing.

Here's how the process works at 99designs, the world’s largest graphic design marketplace. You hop on the website, describe the design you’re looking for, and decide what you want to pay. Designers from around the globe then submit a wide variety of concepts and you give them feedback to refine the designs. Within a week, you pick your favorite and become the owner of an original new design.

You have a strong appreciation for efficiency.  

Chances are your schedule is packed with meetings, interviews and the critical day-to-day tasks required to run your business, leaving you just enough time to skim the surface on other important projects. Running a lean startup is about getting things done and launching a minimal viable product quickly.

Modern crowd-based services like 99designs are made for this, providing entrepreneurs with a quality design quickly on a startup budget. Explaining your company’s history, mission, target audience, and vision for your logo design takes time. Say you go the traditional route and hire a single freelance designer or agency. If it turns out they just don’t understand what you’re looking for, you’ll either have to start from scratch and hire someone else or use a design you don’t love. Crowdsourced design enables you to save time and money by communicating with dozens of designers simultaneously. As the design concepts pour in, you can quickly decide whether designers’ interpretations of your idea are on target and give feedback to guide them in the right direction.

When you need something, you need it fast.

With so much going on in your business, it’s easy to continue pushing off important projects that don’t have hard deadlines. You think, “Oh, that can wait until tomorrow.” But then tomorrow comes, and you end up saying the same exact thing… until you’re out of time. Speed is a key benefit of crowdsourced design, with the process typically completed within one week.

While entrepreneurs often find themselves wanting a new logo in a hurry, many also find sites like 99designs valuable when they realize they need a new brochure, poster, t-shirt or other marketing collateral for an event that seems to be approaching far too quickly. Again, by leveraging the power of the crowd, you can go from a vague idea - “Wouldn’t it be cool to give out cool branded t-shirts at that conference next week?” - to getting an actual product in your hands within days.

There’s no wiggle room in your budget.

When it comes to design work, you may have noticed that fees are rarely set in stone. In the traditional scenario you find a designer or agency, negotiate rates, approve an estimate, and begin collaborating. The designer will let you know if they think they’ll need to spend more hours on your project than anticipated, but this doesn’t really help you in the grand scheme of things if your budget is set. You’re not just going to tell them to stop the design project before it’s finished, right? More likely you’ll just sigh and find the extra cash, or try to speed up the process by settling for a design that’s not the best it could be.

With crowdsourcing, on the other hand, you can hire on demand for a specific project without the threat of scope creep. At 99designs and many other crowdsourcing platforms, the cost of each design project is set up front, so you know exactly how much you’ll pay. No surprises! And some, like 99designs, offer a money-back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied.

You want to be involved in the creative process.

As a startup, your logo, website and all other design elements are undoubtedly important to you. You take pride in your brand, how it is presented and what it represents to your customer. Not everyone understands you and your brand the way you do.

Trouble is, you’re not a designer. But with crowdsourcing sites, you do get to be involved - in fact, it’s pretty much a requirement. Providing feedback to designers is probably the most crucial part of the entire contest. The process is all about collaboration. The more engaged you are in it, the more motivated the designers will be to deliver the perfect design.

Bottom line? Don’t let your logo - or any other design you know you absolutely need - be an excuse for delaying your launch. Remember, you can upgrade, tweak or revise your design at any time. Whether you choose crowdsourcing or another method, there’s never going to be a better time to get started than right now.

Another winning design, this time by Bodksi

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Laura Windisch is a senior member of the marketing team at 99designs, which launched its localized Hong Kong site in 2012.