Some of you may be familiar with the Design Competition that
openBC.com has going on. You can read all about it on the competition
I am very much against design competitions and spec work for our
industry. I have added my voice to their blog and for those of you
who also have issues with this kind of approach, I ask you to also
leave you thoughts on their blog.
Here you can read the comments that I left on their website:
As much as the premise of this competition is to not try and get
design done cheaply, this is exactly the kind of project that is
severely damaging the design industry in Germany.
If you are looking for the best design results, then you need a
design process where you choose ONE agency and then work closely with
them as they iterate through designs to improve them based on client
and end-user feedback. This collaborative, iterative process produces
results far better than through a pitch process, which this is. While
the feedback that your audience is providing here can help to improve
a design, it isn't the ideal way to manage usability or branding
requirements. The audience that you gather here will not necessarily
be representative of the audience that users OpenBC and therefore is
not the best test bed. Plus, the only way to get quality input is in
one on one discussions with users.
The AIGA put out a good document a few years back that helps
businesses understand how to find a design firm. It also states quite
clearly the reasons not to have design competitions and not to
require spec work (pitches). http://www.aiga.org/resources/content/
What we see here is the effort of quite a few companies. Each company
invests a good amount of time in developing their design direction,
for which they are not paid. If you have 30 agencies that each invest
1 week of design work (which isn't really enough to do a proper job),
you have about 1200 hours of labor in your project. If we calculate
that each agency should be making at least 400 Euros/day (or 50 Euros/
hour), then you should be paying 60 000 Euros for labor. But, you are
only offering 10 000 Euros. If you have 20 agencies working on this,
then it is an even more grandiose imbalance of compensation.
Unfortunately, what often happens in these competitions is that you
have several small agencies (10, 20, 30?) which really need the money
investing their time, with the hope that they will "win the prize".
The week of effort has therefore been fruitless for the majority and
has distracted them from other efforts where they could make some
I recognize that in the advertising world it is fairly common to have
creative pitches for accounts. But, we are talking about a very
different situation. There you may have up to four agencies who are
selected to pitch. Each one invests up 100 000 Euros in "effort" and
resources to win the account. The winner will then take home an
account worth 10 000 000 Euros. So, the comparison is unfair.
Please, don't use this design competition as a model for future
business strategies. This is a process that takes advantage of those
companies that can least afford to participate and reinforces for
other businesses that this is a moral and proper practice.