Business Rants

Design Contests = SCAM

  • April 29, 2016

There really is no better way to put this.

What is a “design contest?” Imagine someone wanting a new logo for their business. They announce a “contest” and call for designers to submit (sometimes multiple) designs. Then they choose the “winner” whose design is used and whose designer gets paid for their time and effort.

Everyone else? Usually they go away empty-handed.

How by any stretch of the imagination is this acceptable? Does anyone think that professions like graphic design are somehow populated by people who are willing to contribute hours of uncompensated work on the off chance it’ll pay off? That they are somehow providing a service less valuable than any other product or service?

Posit this: you run a lawn care business. A potential customer asks for you (and several other such companies) each to spend a week mowing and tending their lawn. After the Summer is over they’ll pick the service they think did the best job, which will then be paid while the rest go away uncompensated. Would you—even for an instant—entertain buying into that sort of nonsense? Why, then, should designers be any different?

If you hold a “contest” and there are two dozen entries, then you need to be prepared to compensate every single entrant with fair market payment for the time they spent on your behalf; anything else is nothing less than wage theft.

Designers: do not fall for this. No matter how desperate you believe you are to drum up business, these “contests” are not the way. Your time is valuable, and you deserve compensation for every second you spend working on a project—regardless of the end use. If a potential client does not recognize and respect that (and pay at least a significant deposit) up front then you know to avoid them like the plague and you have dodged a proverbial bullet.

Just say no to “spec” work.

Spinland Studios, LLC is a high-tech branding and marketing studio in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York. We leverage the power and magic of 3D modeling and animation to take your company’s image places you can only imagine. Defy conventional marketing and bring your brand to life! Visit for more information and examples—then hire us to boost your company’s marketing image into the 21st century!

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