If there has been a dominant theme within my consulting business this year, it has been the number of companies that have decided to refresh their websites. It is a trend that has much to do with companies recognizing they need to offer a user-friendly and attractive face to the digital world.
While many companies are reviewing the look and feel of their sites, some of them are also deciding to create new corporate logos. Logo design has traditionally been the dominated by graphic designers. As a result, creating a new logo can be expensive if you are looking for high-quality work.
For many companies, particularly smaller ones, there have been few alternatives. It was this landscape that prompted Ross Kimbarovsky to realize the web could provide a new and different way to create logos by connecting companies with a global network of designers.
The idea hit Mr. Kimbarovsky after he convinced the Chicago law firm where he worked to redesign its website. After interviewing several vendors, they settled on the leading design agency for law firms. But the results were disappointing, which embarrassed Mr. Kimbarovsky, given the time and money spent.
So he decided to see if there was a better way. He found his inspiration with groups in Malaysia that were holding print design competitions for fun, for real or fake products. In a eureka moment, Mr. Kimbarovsky realized the concept could be used to help companies create logos.
After more research, Mr. Kimbarovsky and his partner, Mike Sampson, decided to start crowdSpring.com to create a service that would connect people looking for logos with others around the world willing to create them. In a unique twist, Mr. Kimbarovsky and Mr. Sampson raised $3-million from angel investors to build the service.
In early 2008, CrowdSpring launched a private beta, before going public in May, 2008. Since then, the company has attracted 75,000 designers and writers from 185 countries, and 20,000 registered buyers, including many multinationals. In addition to logos, CrowdSpring can be used for web design, industrial design, graphic design and writing assignments.
To create a corporate logo, a CrowdSpring customers determine the price they want to pay. Depending on the project and potential payment, designers will submit their designs. This provides customers with a wide variety of options that they never would have been able to get before.
Mr. Kimbarovsky said CrowdSpring has resonated because it has made logo creation easier, faster and less expensive.
"They love it because instead of picking from or two different designs, you pick from an average of 110 designs on CrowdSpring," he says. "Once exposed to that kind of choice for creating work - a logo for a website or marketing materials - you never want to go back to the traditional process of picking a designer and waiting for them to produce something."
While CrowdSpring was designed to meet the needs of small businesses, Mr. Kimbarovsky says the service has also attracted large brands and agencies that love how the service works. To serve their needs, CrowdSpring developed a "pro" service that provides privacy, full user control, non-disclosure agreements, private galleries and private briefs.
"We were skeptical big companies and agencies would use us but we have worked with many agencies and brands such as Amazon, Starbucks, Phillips, Conagra, Random House, Tony Robbins, The Economist and Air New Zealand," Mr. Kimbarovsky says.
He adds CrowdSpring's success has been surprising and gratifying, particularly because he had always wanted to do something entrepreneurial while working as a lawyer for many start-ups.
"In my practice, I was very entrepreneurial," he says. "It wasn't until this idea I decided there was something sufficiently useful and promising to try. In the late-1990s before the bubble burst, I had lot of interesting opportunities; none of them seemed sufficiently interesting because they didn't solve as broad a problem. With CrowdSpring, we had an opportunity to solve a significant problem for businesses around the world that they hadn't been able to access."
Friday: We talk to a company that has successfully used CrowdSpring to get a new logo. Look for the column on the Your Business website.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.