Crowdsourcing graphic design

If you own an independent brokerage or if you’re an agent with a personal brand identity, this post is for you!

At VAR we don’t have a full-time graphic designer. Aside from some small Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher projects taken on by staff, we don’t often exercise our amateur graphic artist skills (and that’s probably a good thing!). Outsourcing graphic design can be challenging, though, in that it often takes multiple back-and-forth conversations with an artist to get the project just right. Furthermore, by working with a single graphic designer for a project, you are locked in to one person’s creativity. That can be frustratingly limiting.

When our marketing team needed to get a few logos designed, we decided to try something different instead of calling on one of our graphic design firms. We contacted, an online graphic design portal where budding and accomplished artists compete in design challenges and competitions. This is a kind of crowdsourcing, an evolution of outsourcing made possible by the internet and online communities.

At we’re currently running three design competitions. One to redesign the Virginia REALTOR® Leadership Academy logo, another to create a logo for the expo theme at VAR’s Convention & Expo 2008 (now open for registration, by the way), and one more to create a logo for (a new VAR service that helps REALTORS® save time and gas).

The benefit of crowdsourcing our graphic design is that we get to see a wide array designs from multiple creative people.

Here’s how it works: We created three contests with prize money going to the winning design. We set up certain rules for the competition to ensure the designs are in line with our standards. Designs can be submitted during a seven day period and afterwards the community votes for the best design. Ultimately, VAR gets to choose the design competitions’ winners, but the community votes will help us in our decision-making process. Rights to the design are transferred to VAR upon determining the winner. Many artists are willing to tweak the winning design if we want to make minor changes.

We’d like your help on this project! If you know any graphic artists, please forward this information to them. Also, when voting begins on Saturday, please take a look at the submissions and vote for your favorites; it really will help us make our decision.

If you’re an independent broker in need of a company logo, or an agent with a personal brand, might be an option for you. You might also look at, a similar service.

We’ll report back here on VARbuzz with our winning designs and to talk about our experience.

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3 Responses to Crowdsourcing graphic design

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Amanda – thanks for a great post and for the discussion of some important issues.

    Shops like yours can benefit from crowdsourcing design in several ways. Many need to increase their ability to ideate much as you describe above. The crowd can help with fresh ideas, new perspectives, and a huge and varied skill pool.

    But creative shops can also benefit by tapping into a virtual world of talent to increase their capacity in other areas. Let’s say that you are a small shop of 6 creatives. Sometimes you get busy. Sometimes clients are waiting. Sometimes you are not just stretched thin for ideas, but you are also stretched thin for manpower. Sites such as crowdSPRING can provide that additional capacity without a single dollar invested in equipment, payroll, square footage, utilities, etc.

    We believe that crowdsourcing graphic design should be guided by three core principles: offer buyers choice, give creatives a level playing field, and protect intellectual property for all. The model takes much of the risk out of buying creative services by offering buyer’s choice up front. It should empower an underground, underdog creative community and level the playing field by allowing creatives to compete solely on the basis of their talent. And it should protect the intellectual property of all by offering a range of features in this critical area.

    So, good luck with the projects at Worht1000, we know them well and admire greatly what they are doing for their community.

    Mike Samson

  2. Off to check this out right now.
    To think… my association giving ME tech advice? I thought it would never happen!

    I also suggest for outsourcing. I have 3 people from India that I work with. One is $2 an hour.


  3. Jeremy Hart says:

    Amanda, just got around to looking at this but have to say that I’ve used this with success, as well. When creating, we used CrowdSPRING to design the logo. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but we had well over 100 submissions in about 7 days, maybe 10 at the most. In the end, it was very hard to choose the right logo for our business because of the great design work we had been presented.

    Highly recommend outsourcing like this, and glad to see VAR is doing the same.

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