Crowdsourcing can be an efficient way to design corporate collateral.

Marketing budgets may be tight right now, but crowdsourcing, a new marketing method, is making it possible to achieve strong branding at a low cost. Crowdsourcing is a model in which problems are presented to the public and an open call for solutions is made. The public then submits solutions to these problems.

Until a couple of years ago, construction business owners who needed graphic design services for marketing materials had few options. Essentially, they could hire either an independent graphic designer or an agency. Recently, though, contractors have increasingly turned to the less-expensive option of online crowdsourcing platforms for design of their logos, websites, stationery, signage and brochures.

For example, if a construction company wants a new logo, the company can visit a crowdsourcing website for graphic design and fill out a creative brief, explain their marketing goals and establish the amount they will pay the designer of the logo they choose. Then, independent designers submit logos for the client’s consideration. When the submission period is over, the client chooses a logo, pays the winning designer and takes ownership of the logo. During the submission period, companies are also able to provide feedback to individual designers to tailor submissions to their needs. Some crowdsourcing services also offer platforms to help companies with other branding needs, such as slogans.

David J. Behrens of Behrens Construction Group in Baton Rouge, La., used a crowdsourcing platform for this purpose. Of his experience with the model, Behrens says, “For the price of one design from a local designer, I was able to secure two designs through crowdsourcing for a slightly cheaper price. I chose two designs so that if I wanted to adapt my logos in the future, I’d have a second option. … I also enjoyed being able to browse designers’ portfolios and invite designers who showed worthy potential in their previous designs to my contest.”

Tom Lea, president of Hot City Builders in Thermopolis, Wyo., had a similar experience. Lea recently took his company from sole proprietorship to a corporation and, in the process, crowdsourced some of their marketing efforts. “Because we’re growing,” Lea says, “we needed to brand ourselves. … The process was extremely collaborative in the last few hours.” Regarding the logo that was developed in the crowdsourcing process, Lea says, “The feedback we’re getting is that our logo stands out. We got exactly what we were looking for, and we got a very good deal.”

Business owners could always solicit ideas on any topic from friends, family and colleagues. Crowdsourcing allows you to expand the process beyond acquaintances. When more ideas are involved, there’s a greater chance that the final product will match your needs.