Over the years, I haven’t had much luck with branding. Partly, it’s just the Gemini thing; I split my time between my law practice and my practice blog, MyShingle – and even those broad categories are subdivided into various niches. The few times I’ve embarked on attempts to create a logo, I simply settled for something OK after the back-and-forth and ticking time clock ran my bill higher and higher.
So you’d think crowdsourced design sites like 99Designs — where I could hold a contest with a $300 prize and attract dozens of entries with different concepts — would be ideal. But notwithstanding the potential savings, I simply can’t bring to use a site that forces others to work on spec when I wouldn’t do it myself.
Back in 2010, I asked Would you work on spec? Why should your logo designer? Few lawyers paid any attention – and in fact, some of the others in the “start a firm”/practice management blogging genre ( here or here) continue to endorse speculative logo design.
Nevertheless, my post drew significant traction in the design community. And now, via my friend Matt Homann, I came across this video that makes the point even more powerfully. Don’t miss the part towards the end, either, when the video narrator asks whether a designer can ask several lawyers to work for free and just choose the product he likes the best.
I realize that for many new solos, sites like 99designs present an affordable option. But remember – a logo isn’t exactly a necessity for starting a practice. Moreover, even if you’re dead set on a logo, 99designs isn’t the only game in town. You can find reasonably priced designers on Etsy and of course, elance.com or odesk.com (which aren’t necessarily financially great for designers but at least they don’t have to work free). Some lawyers have also developed basic logos and business card designs on their own, as evidenced at the online Lawyer Business Card Fishbowl I created.
But my question from two years ago still holds. Would you work for free on a regular basis, particularly to enrich others? If you wouldn’t do it, how can you justify asking others — including designers — to do the same?