Cost has always been a factor when hiring a creative agency. And the present is no exception. One of the options some companies have tried recently is crowd-sourcing. Crowd sourcing is defined as the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.

For the business, it seems like there’s no downside. You get a huge mass of hungry designers to create work and compete with each other and even though they all did the work, you only have to pay one of them. Even the cost of posting a listing online is virtually free in most cases. So why hasn’t this caught on in a big way?

The answer is simple. It doesn’t work.

“Dart Practice in the Dark”

When a hundred designers clammer to do work for free it’s spec work on steroids. In an earlier articlewe broke down 10 reasons why spec work is bad for your business. Without a proper partnership, designs can be merged from many others without proper compensation for those people’s hard work. Not to mention, the final product is usually shallow and lacks proper long-term strategy or adheres to a marketing plan of any substance. This is mostly because the crowd of designers are at best, making only educated guesses of what you might like, which is a lot like throwing darts at a board. They are simply taking shots in the dark when it comes to your identity.

“Invested in Perpetuity vs. Investment in Singularity”

There is a reason agencies do this as part of their process – because it is effective. Agencies are invested in your business because when you make profits, you are more likely to continue to spend with them again. An anonymous designer has no such investment. The kind of designer that would participate in such a practice, is most likely only in it for the pay cheque.

“The Unexpected Cost”

The expenses you think you’re saving evaporate faster than you could imagine when you factor in things like curating the hundreds of designs, managing the ones you like, communicating back and forth and going through tons of revisions because the designer has no real relationship with you and so on. The timelines get blown to smithereens and you find yourself without anything to show for your efforts. The only thing that is left to do is to start from scratch with an agency, but this time with less budget because you spent much of your budget on wasted efforts.

“Story Time”

I recently worked with a large client who had tried this model for a logo design. They were in their third year of this project which that had turned into a nightmare. They had a stack of paper 3 inches thick and nothing was coming close to what they wanted. Three years of working with designers. Three years of being disappointed and frustrated. Three years of man hours for the people handling this project. The farther they got, the more they felt they had to keep going to justify their investment. Finally it was time to come to terms with the reality that it wasn’t ever going to produce what they wanted. It was time to call a real agency.

We spoke with them and asked them questions they never thought of. We met them face to face and toured their facility. We had researched their company and their competition, but most importantly, we got to know them. This face to face interaction was priceless. It gave us insight into who this client really was. My team and I then drafted a creative brief in our own words the information that outlined in finer detail, what they truly wanted and more importantly, what they needed.

The result was with the proper preparation, process, and collaboration, the options we gave them were right on the mark. What they had been through those past three years and what we provided them was night vs. day.  Instead of hundreds of logos that missed the mark time and time again, they had three strong logos that they loved almost equally. The biggest problem they had was now which logo to pick.That’s what I call a “High Quality Problem.”