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Why a good design award should cover more categories?

Why a good design award should cover more categories?

Why a good design award should cover more categories?

The strength of an award, in addition to prestige provided by its structural design (jury, patrons, sponsors, monetary prizes etc) comes from the prestige provided by its fame and spread; the more people know about the award, the more that award is valued.
Therefore it is crucial for an award or prize to reach a range of audience that is as wide as possible. Furthermore, the more people know how difficult, or how hard to obtain an award, it becomes more prestigious as well. Therefore it is also crucial for an award or prize to have as many lead-users well educated about the award as well.
Today, if you would ask your non-designer friends, you will notice that they do usually not now, even the most famous design awards, however ask them design awards and they will name a few. This principle applies to all sorts of industry awards, prizes or trophies.
This is because, most award schemes are niche industry-specific organizations; many people in the particular industry know of them (because they themselves participate them or because their institution participates them), but less people outside the industry even hear them (because also the reach and advertisement budget is limited for these niche events).
So how can an industry specific award could become more popular? How can a design award become more popular among also a non-designer audience? What can be done, so that the awards won, do indeed create additional value to the people who have won them, other then being decorations in a big room? It is simple.
To add value to the award, one should reach a larger audience, which is also well educated about the award, and one of the prominent ways to reach a larger audience, and to educate them about the award is to include them within the organization: A powerful, prestigious award should include as many stakeholders as possible within the award itself.
Different than the final audience (i.e. people who learn about the winners; the public audience), the stakeholders; sponsors, patrons and participants themselves play a crucial role in spreading an award. Not only they contribute to advertising and promoting the award in different industries and segments, they also create awareness of the award in the public audience as well, which in turn, adds to its prestige.
The stakeholders, who join the competition, perhaps who also won some awards themselves, know the competition better then the public design oriented audience that is interested in results only. Taking part in the process, the stakeholders contribute to the spread, fame and publicity of the award, creating additional value to winners.
Of course, awards could be advertised also by spending a lot on advertising meanwhile limiting the categories; however this advertising budget is usually limited or it comes from a specific source: the participants. This is one of the reasons why some design competitions charge a months-wage worth of entrance fees and several months-wage worth of exhibition or advertising fees.
This is plain wrong; this way of spreading the award through pushed advertisements not only creates a huge burden for the entrants as additional costs of joining, but also it creates most importantly an access exclusivity. These awards are joined only by a group of high-income salary designers and large design corporations and manufacturers.
However by including as many different fields of designs as possible to award categories, not only an organic connection between the participants, sponsors and patrons can be created but also the cost of advertising to reach a wider audience will be diminished and the award will spread to more and more audiences without creating added burden on the participants and without creating exclusivity to join.
When the competition categories become wider, the worth of winning the award will also become bigger; the value of an award is positively correlated with the number of people who knows the award both within and outside the industry, because the value proposition of an award is not just high-standard indication, but also advertisement, reach, marketing possibilities and others.
Up to now, most awards have been industry specific; no one knows them except a few within the industries. But for an award to be effective, it must spread and spread. Therefore a good design award should cover as many categories as it could cover. This also means having a larger jury, and more participants.
By having a wide-category design competition it also provides people from different design industries and fields to compete under a fair and ethical ground to present their ideas as well and this is why A’ Design Award includes 80 competition categories. Each of the different categories support the main value within the award itself.
Of course it is not easy to start a design award with so many categories, therefore the initial strategy is to create base categories, and an "open" category, which allows entries that do not fit other categories. The "open" category, was the "Unexpected" design award for the A' Design Award. This category allowed participants to submit high-quality designs, in diverse fields.
A Second way to create more categories, is by sub-dividing large competition categories, such as "industrial design" or "product design", this is indeed not a marketing strategy, but an essential step towards the transparency and methodology of the competition itself, as by sub-diving main design competition categories, sub-specific criteria can be defined.
For example, if a competition is has only a single "product design category", it usually means that all product designs will be judged together with other designs; i.e. if you submit kitchenware designs, and another designer submit bathroom-ware designs, your kitchenware designs will be judged in comparison to the bathroom-ware design.
This is another aspect, why a good design competition should have more categories, because you cannot simply compare apples and bananas with the same quality criteria. Of course having more categories creates a significant burden for the organizer.
With more competition categories the organizer should reach more people, should increase the jury size and should define criteria for each and every category, should reach sponsors, should reach press in these industries etc but it is fundamentally required for having a good competition organization that compares apples with apples only.
In summary, a good design competition should have more categories, because a) Reaching more categories, allows reaching more stakeholders, participants and a wider audience which increases the prestige content from fame and publicity angle. b) Having more categories allows sub-definition of criteria for different types of entries, thus providing the fundamental basis of a prestigious competition from the methodology, transparency and fair competition perspectives.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. 2008. “Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies.“, 42. Boston: Harward Business Review.

This article was added on Monday, 27th of January, 2014 at 05.26 am by author Onur Cobanli Tags: design competition categories, design award categories, design awards with multiple categories. Read our copyright policy here.




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