How digitalization is leading to international competition between designers
Is it possible that Asia will soon be producing not only affordable cell phones and T-shirts but also logos, websites and entire campaigns? What happens when designers from all over the world make pitches for a project in Germany? And what design options are available to customers within the global market? We spoke with a designer who has worked on international design platforms.
We meet up with Igor in West Lisbon, where the Tagus almost touches the Atlantic. Igor is a designer, born in Brasil but residing in Lisbon. He tells us that “for the same money, one can enjoy a far better quality of life here than at home in Rio.“
Our meeting with Igor is something like a blind date. We have discussed his concepts in Frankfurt at length, but have not yet met him personally. Igor worked on designing our Workstyles logo, alongside several other creative individuals, via an online platform called 99designs. Designers from Croatia, Indonesia, and the Philippines created designs based on our visions last year. Igor was one of the finalists.
New platforms change collaboration
Creative platforms such as 99designs or designcrowd provide creative individuals with the opportunity to acquire and complete contracts virtually. Whether the client needing a creative service is based in Germany, the USA or South Africa, on the other end there are designers, pitching their ideas. Who wins, and how their work is remunerated, is determined by the customer.
Igor Moreira, a student of Brand Management at a University in Lisbon, sees much potential in these platforms. “Via digitalization, I am able to gain access to clients from anywhere in the world.“ Simultaneously, he is aware that he is competing with experts in his field worldwide. “No matter how high the costs of living are, all are paid the same in the end. Some can survive on the profits for an entire year, while others may only be able to get by for one month.“
During his first month with 99designs, Igor won 30% of his pitches. That was much higher than the average. In the second month, his success rate was noticeably lower. When considering his future, this young man quickly comes to realize that this way of working is not a long-term option for him. “As a student it’s OK, but when you have a family and children you need more security.“
Fairness in international market
The platforms turn regional craftsmanship into global market goods. This development cannot be reversed. The important question now is what responsibilities the clients and platform providers have. Igor suggests that instead of the price being determined by the platforms alone, the designers should be involved in this process. “The quality of a creative service can best be determined by experts.“ Other models are also possible. One example would be a model in which participation in the competition itself, and therefore the process and development of a logo, is also paid. Or, one in which the number of participating designers is limited and the fee is divided amongst them.
Igor provides a nuanced answer to Johannes from Berlin’s question of whether more jobs are being created as a result of new technologies. “Simple contracts, such as the design of a logo, can be completed with the use of technical support alone, without the need for a designer.“ For complex developments, Igor sees things differently. “Real brands are much more than just design. Complex brand development requires processes and interactions between the customers and the brand developers, which are based upon the strengths and character of the company.“ This, even in the future, cannot be done by machines. By completing his master’s studies, Igor is preparing himself for just such complex tasks.
By the way, Igor participated in our logo competition and ended up receiving no money for his work. Our chosen payment method, which guarantees a payout (you can also order without guaranteeing payment!), only pays the winner of the competition. Igor invested 12 hours of work. The winner was an Indonesian competitor, who did not, however, respond to our interview request. What did Igor get out of it? An invitation for a beer from Stefanie and a promise from Ingo to hire him as a freelancer in the future.
See Igors profil here
Igor’s question for our next interview: how can trust be established without the exertion of control?
We will ask Anthony, the CEO of PUBLICIS ONE for the regions of Portugal and Morocco, to answer that question for us.