Here again is my take on “Logo Contests”, followed by an update on their contact with me since then and a showcase of the logo designs:
For graphic designers who have invested time, effort, energy and money into the career, "Logo Contents" serve only to devalue the work, and demean the profession. Many of these contests offer the misguided prize of being an excellent promotion of the designer's creative abilities which are sure to bring legitimate paying accounts their way. They don't. Sometimes the prizes (or "rewards"), are minimalistic at best (a free night's stay, a one year membership, etc.), and once again presents the message that the value of the design is far less than it is actually worth. Many designers entering these competitions don't realize that businesses are taking advantage of their naiveté. Many of these "contests" are promoted in area newspapers where ads are purchased at full price (or with a small not-for-profit discount), which in most cases exceeds the value of the "prize" awarded to the contest winner. It is also the case that once these images are created (at no cost to the holders of the contests), that those organizations are more than willing to pay for the printing of business cards and stationery, advertisements, flyers, programs, etc., further indicating a far greater degree of respect and understanding for other professions while deeming the actual design as having either no or little value. Logo contests are not always held by not-for-profit organizations. Many "for-profit" businesses that can afford to hire qualified designers to create a logo and/or branding package, also choose this less expensive route.
A true graphic artist understands the complexities of what constitutes a logo. Considerable research into the design is required so that the final design remains a timeless marketing tool for the business in a variety of circumstances. The design must communicate that message in colour, in black and white, in positive and negative scenarios. It must be eye catching, memorable and in most cases communicate a single message. It should take printing expenses into consideration, and in many cases look good printed on a vehicle, a t-shirt, or even embroidered on a ball cap without losing any aspect of its message. The Lakefield area is inundated with some very poorly designed logos that do not serve the businesses well as a marketing tool or as an effective identification symbol. Many are cluttered, have confusing meanings, utilize colours that reproduce poorly, are made up of letters placed together to form a shape that's meaningless to the person looking at it and so on. If companies or organizations require a new logo, they should ask designers for their portfolios, identify the best candidate for the job or project, and hire them.
I personally have created logos that have ranged from $300 to $8,500 depending upon the requirements of the business for their use and the variety of applications for the image. We often hear of large corporate logos or governmental images being designed for costs upwards of $250,000 but must remember that these cases are exceptional in that those images are regimented with published volumes of strict guidelines that take months to prepare so that those images are projected in literally thousands of documents, advertisements, stationery and promotional products in a very specific manner. In those cases, teams of creative individuals work solely on these accounts to ensure that the end product accomplishes many things without any opportunity for error or miscommunication.
The small amount of recognition earned from logo contests is more detrimental to the graphics community as a whole, and slowly defeats the efforts so many are trying to make in regards to graphic design industry standards.
HERE’S THE UPDATE:
As some of you know, I offered to work with Performing Arts Lakefield to revise the logo design at my usual hourly rate. I later received a kind email from their president telling me that none of the logos submitted in the contest met their standards, but that they were so impressed with my design and professionalism that they wished for me to receive the prize of the two free seasonal passes to their concert series. I politely declined the offer.
Last week I received a telephone call from the husband of one of the board members asking me if I would be willing to help Performing Arts Lakefield with their marketing as their membership and concert attendance was declining and they were in desperate need of help or risk closing altogether. Here we have a board member soliciting marketing assistance without the approval of the board, and through a non-board member. As you can imagine, knowing that this group wasn’t willing to part with a few hundred dollars for a logo, I was not prepared to delve into the more grand task of helping these people design and execute a marketing plan, and I politely pointed the gentleman in another direction.
Yesterday I received a lovely email from another member of the board who met me at the Happenstance Books & Yarns open house last week. She had looked at this website and loved my logo portfolio, and asked if I’d be interested in entering a logo in Performing Arts Lakefield’s new logo contest, explaining that they badly need to get into the digital age or seriously risk closing. Before I read the email, this woman telephoned me, and I explained about entering the previous logo contest (she knew nothing about that one apparently), and how it transformed. She said she would be speaking with the president of the board to get updated on the situation.
Given the lack of organization in this organization, and the fact that all of their right hands appear to be totally oblivious that there even is a left hand, is it any wonder that their concerts are poorly attended and that they risk closure?
Below is their current logo, and my two entries. You be the judge!