Competing with ourselves?

Are design competitions worse than free pitching?

For many young designers, as well as up-&-coming agencies, design competitions are too good to pass up. After all, how else can someone make a name for themselves overnight? Put that way, it's easy to see why competitions are so enticing for many, but is there another side to the phenomenon?

Much has been made in recent months of the phenomenon of free pitching. Creatives claim that the wasted effort - and money - caused by free pitching is an onerous.

If that's the case, then what about competitions?

Robert Wurth of No Spec thinks so.


Right now, there exists a trend in the business world whereby companies get it in their heads that it would be a good idea to run a contest for their design work. What they will do is announce that they need, say, a new logo. The intent is for designers to individually spend the time to develop designs and then submit them. The company then goes over the entries and selects a “winner.” Only the winner receives any compensation for the work.

Wurth also thinks that the pheonomen is potentially bad news for the businesses which run them:


The thing that contest originators don’t understand, however, is that the contest model is just as much a lottery for them, too. Without meeting with the contest entrants, and seeing their past work and experiencing their personalities, the contest originators put themselves in the middle of a very risky gamble. Based simply on a submitted image, it is impossible to determine whether or not the designer has the knowledge and background to guide the project to an efficient (or even successful) conclusion.

It really isn’t all that difficult for someone with some basic creative skills to put some shapes together into a pleasing arrangement. However, making sure that those shapes have the technical foundation to meet the needs of a company is a different matter, as is having the knowledge and skill to follow up the project with changes, modifications, or even application to future projects.

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