Wherever you look, it’s hard not to notice some kind of competition going on in the creative services sector.

Whether it’s a contest to produce a short film score, or a design “auction” to create a new product illustration, people are looking for creative solutions where 99% of the designers’ hard work is for nothing.

Financial logos are starting to see a similar attitude creep in, and as you can probably tell, we’re not particularly keen on this approach to financial graphic design. The practice is now so pervasive, that designers across the globe are responding with ranty videos and memes to vent their frustration.

Websites have sprung up (like 99Designs) which actually cater to this “crowd-sourced” approach of graphic design. Essentially, it allows a business to submit a design brief and relax, watching as designers submit creative ideas in competition with each other.

These sorts of website are essentially geared towards businesses who want design. Not designers seeking business. This results in the following:

  1. If the client does not like any of the designs, they can claim a full refund.
  2. Only the designer whose work is chosen, gets paid. Ow.

From the IFA or wealth manager’s perspective, this might seem like an attractive course of action to getting a financial logo. After all, budgets are tight, especially if you’re in the startup phase. It feels like your resources are best dedicate elsewhere, and that financial graphic design is a bit of luxury item you don’t really need to invest in.

However, there are some big problems with this approach to financial logo design. Here they are.


Financial Branding Is Central

Those IFAs and wealth managers who think financial branding is a luxury? No offense, but those businesses will not get very far.

The fact is, we live in an online world where clients and prospects expect businesses – including financial advisers – to have a presence. It simply isn’t possible to have a strong, credible online presence without a compelling financial brand.

Branding isn’t just your financial logo, or the graphical parts of your company. It applies to most if not all aspects of your business, from your employees’ telephone manner to your website’s fonts and tone of voice.

Fundamentally, financial branding refers to how your target market sees you, and how they perceive your work. It is the face you present to the outside world, which is why it’s so important that it’s authentic and unique.

The big question is, how do you get your financial branding right – especially if you’re a startup IFA? First of all, you need to identify who you are and your values. That’s before you even get started with colours, fonts and financial logoos.

Do you stand for high quality, or are you the cheap option? Is your financial website going to be whimsy and conversational, or all about no-nonsense, high value professionalism? Once you work out your angle, that’s where you can start finding the imagery, colours, fonts and graphics which suit.

This is usually the point where IFAs turn to the crowd-funded approach for graphic design. Which then ruins all of your hard work.

Why? Think about it. There are hundreds – probably thousands – of designers (and wannabe designers) all over the world who are signed up to the likes of 99Designs and other crowd funded sites. However – and this is crucial – these distant designers are not mind readers.

It doesn’t matter how detailed your brief is, your trans-continental designers are unable to get their teeth into your brand in the way someone can who has sat in a room with you, looked through your existing material, and spent time in conversation with you about your financial brand.

Financial branding, in other words, cannot be done really well on the crowd sourced model.


Would You Work For Nothing?

Right now, there is a global plague of copyright infringement when it comes to logo design. When you turn to crowd sourced financial logo design, you open yourself up to bombardment from this kind of work.

Imagine yourself in the designer’s shoes. You’ve studied hard and emerged with lots of student debt in order to establish your graphic design career. you apply for jobs, and in the meantime to pay the rent you sign up to 99Designs or similar crowd-sourcing site.

Unfortunately, the only way you get paid for this work is to win the competitions. However, you are potentially competing against dozens of other designers for the same prize, which lowers your chances of getting paid quite significantly.

Given these poor odds of getting paid, it feels easier to just “rip off” a design from elsewhere rather than through hours of dedicated work for the client.

In other words, if you’re thinking of getting a financial logo this way, you will likely end up with a poor design that’s been plagiarised. You will also be fueling a system which does not adequately compensate people for their hard work.


Financial Logos & Choice Paralysis

Crowd-sourced financial logo design will leave you with lots of logos to choose from. But how on earth do you decide which is the right one? What criteria do you use?

In many cases IFAs will opt for what suits their personal tastes, rather than what is right for their business. When we work with financial advisers on financial logos, we usually only present about 3-8 designs to the client out of the many we have actually done.

These will be the ones we (in our professional experience) deem to be most suitable for the client’s business goals. From there, we can then collaborate with our client about which one is the best fit.

If you go down the crowd sourced route, however, you’re on your own for this part.


Phil Teale is the head of Marketing at CreativeAdviser. He spends most of his time focused on digital marketing, Facebook advertising, PPC and remarketing. In his spare time, he likes reading the Sherlock Holmes novels, powerlifting at his local gym, and enjoys scuba diving with his wife.

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