The ‘£25 logo‘ article we recently wrote for Creative Review seemed to cause a nice bit of debate in the comments section of their blog. Which is what we had hoped for. We did however notice their was a bit of confusion over certain wording. Although we never mentioned ‘crowd sourcing’ or ‘spec-work’ in the piece, people leaving comments were using these terms in reference to the cheap logo service we used. We thought it was worth clearing things up a bit.
Outsourcing work to a crowd. The term first came up in a 2006 Wired article and refers to the method of taking a job traditionally performed by a single person and outsourcing it, usually via the internet, to a group of people in the form of open submissions. The benefits? As the client you can see ideas from a huge number of people, all with varying degrees of talent and pick the one you like best. What could be wrong with that? From our point of view, the work has been devalued, the quality of design has been compromised and the free-for-all scrum is never going to produce the most focused results. You may remember with a shudder, the fateful episode in October 2010 when Gap launched, were attacked for, and subsequently withdrew their new logo. At the high point of the controversy, some bright spark at Gap suggested Crowd Sourcing opinions on their new logo, the huge online backlash to this suggestion was arguably the thing that sealed the deal and led them to revert back to the old one. Why? Crowd Sourcing is the epitome of design by committee which cheapens what we do. These are the kind of things we’re talking about. Not good.
Working without guarantee of payment. Any form of work in which the client is presented with the finished product before they agree to a fee. Spec work doesn’t just seem wrong from a design perspective, it simply seems like the wrong way to sell any product or service. Decided that you weren’t that keen on the meal you were just served? Don’t bother paying the full amount. Taxi ride take longer than you expected? Have it for free. Without commitment from both sides (client and supplier), the transaction becomes unfairly stacked against the person doing the work. Again, not good. The AIGA seem to agree and they’re not the only ones. Sites such as NO!SPEC and Antispec are on a crusade against this kind of work, Antispec define the problem well – ‘Client asks 3 design agencies to show what they can do for them if they want to win the £60,000. The agencies will spend a solid week, or longer, with many staff involved to prepare the perfect pitch. The pitch has cost the agency £6,000 and there is a 66% chance of losing.’
Getting paid a pre-agreed rate to undertake pre-agreed work. A tried and tested system that gets all the fiddly details out of the way up front. Establishing what’s needed, how much it costs, how long it’ll take and how you’re getting paid before doing the work, means you can fully concentrate on the good bit – actually doing the work. In our opinion, this is the fair, sensible way to do business and the only way we work at Mat Dolphin.
Hopefully that’s made everything crystal clear. You may think the above opinions are rubbish and the way you work is best for you – if so, we won’t try and argue with you. Each designer works in different ways and it’s none of our business to tell other people how to deal with theirs. Although it’s worth remembering, as a wise man once said ‘if you’re good at something, never do it for free’.
The only exceptions to this rule are body popping and playing frisbee.
Thanks for reading.
Phil & Tom