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Promoting Designers


Promoting Designers

Are design competitions effective platforms to promote designers and create awareness? Depends on the platform.

Design competitions are very effective platforms to promote designers and create an awareness for good design, however like the power of the atom, when harnessed in the wrong way, and when falls into wrong hands, they can create more harm than good (of course they would not destroy the world, that was too dramatic, in reality I trust on average they actually do create good value please read on). Thus the question should not be about whether design competitions are effective platforms for promoting designers and creating awareness but how we can have the best design competitions that achieve these goals.
First of all, we should focus on promotion of designers, and promotion of design, to create an awareness for good design. Promotion of designers is easy, and is achieved by publicity and advertisement. Creating an awareness for good design is also very easy, and is also possible by publicity and advertisement. Therefore, the design competitions who advertise award winning works the best, are indeed the best design awards to promote designers and create an awareness for good design. Here, we of course consider that this competition is fair and truly highlights good designs.
So the question now should be, how do we advertise award winning works the best way possible? There are of course many methods, but we shall dig deep to see the actors behind the publicity to better to help the spread further, there are many actors in a design competition that advertise the winning works. First, there is the award organizer who sets up an advertising budget and provides tools for publicity. Second the award winner, who advertises the design award victory to friends. Then there is the design enthusiast who helps dissemination by promoting good design.
A good design award, should therefore not only have a good advertising budget but most importantly an effective advertising strategy. From my experience, the best advertising strategy for design competitions is about building tools and services to help award winners disseminate their works better themselves, in addition to engaging in higher level advertising campaigns. The most basic tools of the trade are for example design award certificates which designers could hang to their walls, the trophies which designers could place in their cabinets of curiosities, and then there is the award winner logo which design award winner companies could integrate to their product packaging or service brochure or corporate communication.
The trophy, certificate and logo are the base elements of publicity of a design competition. These elements also provide prestige to competition winners. Plus, good design awards could help the winners disseminate further by organizing design competition exhibitions, by publishing a yearbook of award winning design works, by organizing a gala night and award ceremony that brings together designers, press members and companies. The award ceremony, design award exhibition and the award yearbook are secondary level dissemination tools that are employed by better design competitions.
Promoting Designers
Then smart design competitions also integrate digital tools as well as carefully designed processes to create publicity of winners further. A simple smart tool can allow the designer to quickly and effortlessly update all friends or customers about the design award victory, another simple tool could be an online design award gallery which could attract design enthusiasts and which could contribute to advertising efforts by generating organic design news shares, creating word of mouth and viral spread. These smart tools are perhaps only the third layer of services that design competitions could create.
Advanced design competitions take the advertisement value proposal a step further by actively advertising the design award winners. For example they could organize an advertising campaign with a substantial budget that runs via different publishers to display the award winning works, or advanced design competitions could invite audiences to check the award winning designers in various events. The direct publicity by advanced design competitions mostly happen in the form of traditional placements but clever campaigns and happenings can also be seen.
Then finally, the design competitions could go even further for their publicity efforts. For example, even higher level publicity possibilities would include announcement of a particular company or designer as company or designer of the year for an additional PR push, or publishing an index of best design companies, and publishing an index of award winning designers to make their work and profiles easier to be found, or giving the laureates certificates of exhibition and other explanatory documents such as design award supplements that help the winners explain their achievement better to others.
So, the ultimate design competition has to go a step further, in addition to a yearbook, trophy, certificate, award logo, exhibition, gala-night, direct publicity and tools to disseminate winners, it could take the role of an international public relations agency. That means preparing individual press releases for award status announcement, translation of an excerpt of awarded works to many languages for global reach, conducting interviews with award winners, placing award winners works to syndicated or partnering publications, as well as preparing professional press kits which the award winners could send to their local contacts.
Finally, the ideal design award does not only advertise design to its highest but should also create business opportunities for its winners. This could happen for example by organizing design meetings that bring together different industries and companies and matching them with designers or press members in favorable settings, forming or inviting design award winners to design consortium, incubators, association or clubs, of course covering up for their participation costs. Providing designers opportunities to sell their creations, or helping them protect their interests by teaching about intellectual properties and the business of design could be further value proposals of ideal competitions.
What about A' Design Award? The A' Design Award goes beyond these five layers. The following is just a summary of the value proposal given to A' Design Award Winners: The Laureates of the A’ Design Award & Competition get fame, prestige, recognition, credibility, publicity and international awareness, in addition to a comprehensive and extensive winners’ kit which includes everything a designer or a design oriented company could potentially need to celebrate the success of winning the A’ Design Award. The A' Design Award Winners' Kit is called the "A' Design Prize" and it includes the 3D Printed Metal A' Design Award trophy in Black Luxury Box, the annual yearbook which is available in both digital and hardcopy versions (winners get both), printed design excellence certificate in metal frame, award winners manual which helps you get more out of your award status, free gala-night invitation for two people to the award ceremony, free participation and space allocation in the winners' exhibition (both online gallery inclusions as well as physical exhibition in Italy), a certificate of design exhibition participation, free sales listing at SaloneDelDesigner, free utilization of DesignMediator services, access to design fees calculator, design cost calculator and design quote calculator, inclusion in BuySellDesign Network, proof of creation service, free subscription to List of Net service, free listing at DesignMegaStore, guaranteed publication through IDNN and DXGN Networks to 100+ magazines including Design Interviews & DM Design Magazine, press release preparation and distribution through DesignPRWire, publicity and visibility through DesignMedia communications, feedbacks, judging and evaluation of entries by a respected jury panel, lifelong licensing of the award winners logo, A2 poster design and printing for exhibition, and many others such as inclusion in the World Design Rankings, and translation of award winning works to 20+ languages as well as international PR Services. But this is of course only at A' Design Award, without any further fees or extra costs, you need to understand that other design awards not only do not provide the A' Design Prize, but they also asks substantial extra fees from winners, winners of other competitions can be asked contributions for publicity, extra fees or further fees, while there are no such fees at A' Design Award. Not having additional fees puts a financial burden for A' Design Awards, and that is why they have a tiered nomination fee structure, where large enterprises pay much more, and designers pay much less, not only solving finance issues but also creating equal opportunities via positive price and entry cost discrimination. Furthermore, A' Design Award invites winners to join prime clubs as well as initiatives such as the Design Legends platform.
Promoting Designers
Today however a majority, about 99% percent of all design competitions are simpletons, most of the design competitions has single value propositions of only announcing winners and doing nothing else and actually, a significant amount of these competitions also get abandoned meaning even the results are not announced, of course these competitions do not create any value for professional designers but even the worst design competition will create positive value for young designers by giving them a reason to practice design.
Not all design competitions are good at promoting design or creative awareness. There are many problems with design competitions organized everywhere and by everybody. The issues depend on the organizer and the structure, there could be issues by awards even organized by the most respectful entities as well as governments. Last, I would like to discuss some problems and issues that are worth consideration.
Usually, design competitions organized and sponsored by the governments and design associations are expected to be the most fair and prestigious of all design award programs, as government sponsored events are mostly free to join (propose equal opportunity), and usually have a good prize (monetary rewards or titles of nobility) and design competitions organized by associations are usually well executed. However, nepotism, political discrimination as well as bad organization could equally make these design awards worthless. Furthermore, most government awards are not good at advertising the winner works and many design association competitions are won by top design association members or their friends.
Design competitions and contests organized by companies for procurement of design purposes or for creating publicity using design as a tool are usually the worst kind of design competitions yet they could still benefit fresh graduates by teaching them the realities of life, as well as giving them opportunity to work on a real design brief. Problems with design contests organized by companies are: Legal theft of design ideas, improper and unfair judging, insignificant awards or compensation, nonexistent advertising or publicity opportunities, intellectual property and copyright infringements.
Design competitions organized by specialized design competition organizer institutions and companies are usually better than any other competitions or contests organized by design associations, companies or governments. The professional design awards usually protect the intellectual properties of designers more, and are able to create better publicity as they usually have a higher brand value, however the further fees, fees for winners, publicity fees and other extra payments can put a heavy burden for designers and indeed most of these competitions are not suitable or targeted for designers but rather companies who propose good design as a value proposition and key sales elements.
To repeat the question whether design competitions are effective platforms to promote designers and create awareness or not, we could definitely say that design competitions are creating an awareness for good design as well as promoting designers, but the way they are organized and the prize they offer matters significantly. If design competitions are organized in a way to create the highest dissemination, public relations and press feature as well as business opportunities for its laureates we can say that they are very effective tools for both creating awareness as well as publicity for award winners.
Promoting Designers
To repeat once again, design competitions promote designers by advertising the award winning works and their designers, this advertisement is more efficient than advertising all designers because when good and award winning works are advertised, they have more viral reach; good design benefits more from advertisement than mediocre design, and award winning designs benefit the most from advertising, and the advertisement is amplified via design competition victory, thus, good design competitions where really good designs win do contribute to design industry by promoting the designs that are really worth attention and those same designs would also be the ones that would benefit most from the attention of the press.
This article is not about the merits of design competitions, but just focusing on whether they are effective for promoting designers or creating an awareness for good design. While design competitions have many merits, design awards are actually great tools or platforms to celebrate, highlight, recognize and disseminate good design worldwide, especially considering that good design competitions do actively publish, promote and popularize good design.
To wrap up once again, design competitions are efficient at promoting designers from an economic perspective; they advertise good designs, good designs benefit more from advertising than regular designs (good design spread better and faster by getting more press mentions and shares than regular design), good designs create a cultural taste of good design in society, promoting good design is good because good design is good (good design is long lasting, durable, environment friendly, aesthetic, user friendly, fault tolerant, safe, secure, economically efficient, fun, happier etc), and promoting good design benefits the society at all levels.

This article was added on Monday, 21st of September, 2015 at 04.33 pm by author Onur Cobanli Tags: design awards, design competitions, design accolades. Read our copyright policy here.
 

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