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Strategies for Not Loosing Design Awards

Strategies for Not Loosing Design Awards

This article explains how not to get eliminated from design awards and competitions, i.e. strategies for winning design awards.

Why designers fail at design awards, competitions and contests? No one joins a design award, competition or contest knowing that she would definitely not win. However, designers still submit designs that would be obviously eliminated. Based on statistics regarding 5000+ design submissions to a design competition, the following are insights explain why designers lose design awards.
Not Reading the Brief: Major failure. It has become evident that a significant percentage of designers are indeed not reading the competition briefs at all. The brief of a competition, and its the terms and agreements are the most two important documents that must be definitely read prior to starting a design or its submission. Most design awards would have generic briefs, or simple award categories.
Yet many designers, not reading the category definitions or requirements could submit designs that do not fit the competition. This especially happens a lot for free to join competitions, as designers seem to be more careful when registration fees are involved. In any case, for a success in design awards, first thing to do is to read the competition brief or the category descriptions.
Poor Presentation: Designers often fail competitions mostly because the graphic communication of their entries are not good or their presentation is poorly made: For many designers, the presentation is an irrelevant or underrated aspect of a submission. Designers most often think that it is the design that is being judged; not its graphic communication. However, in reality, jury members can be biased and favor designs which have better presentation.
There are three major reasons for that: firstly, a well-made presentation suggest that the design project itself is also well-made and professional, this is indeed a proven phenomenon and mainly happens because as a good first impression creates an anchoring effect towards positive perception of the design.
Secondly, designs that have a better presentation are usually easier to understand and it is again proven that easier to understood designs are evaluated more positively as they create less of a mental burden.Third, presentation is indeed an important evaluation criteria in most competitions, and this mere fact could be missed easier. Thus, designs with better presentation end up getting better results in design awards and competitions.
Ambiguous Design: If jury members do not understand the designs they are judging in a reasonable amount of time, they will either simply pass it or fail it or not judge it at all, but more often, to be on the safe side, competition judges will fail any designs that are not clearly communicated. Clear communication is not just about good quality aesthetic presentation; it is more about letting judges understand what the submitted design is, how it works, and how it relates to the environment i.e. In addition to the quality of the graphic visualization; the actual design of the presentation is very important.
Within this perspective, it is especially important for designers to communicate their designs very clearly with the submitted presentation, and accompanying descriptions if possible. There are several questions that each design presentation should clearly answer with graphic means, if not possible verbally: Most important of all, the function should be communicated and easy to understand; it is possible to do so by preparing illustrations, showing the design within its context of use, through demonstrating its usage etc.
Not Respecting Submission Guidelines: A third important reason why designers fail design awards and competitions is because they forget to read submission guidelines or decide for themselves that the entry requirements would not be relevant. While on one hand, for local competitions and amateur design contests this could be true, on the other hand, for international design awards and prestigious competitions, not respecting submission guidelines usually gets the designs eliminated.
Designers are especially required to submit their works in a uniform, standardized manner so that they could be judged on equal grounds; submission requirements of a design competition usually imposes restrictions for presentation format and size, amount of content that could be submitted or requires that specific aspects of the design that is communicated. Thus, for designers to succeed at design awards and competitions, guidelines shall always be respected.
Copyright & Intellectual Property Issues: Yet another reason why designers fail design awards and competitions relates to the usage of logos of famous brands and utilization or embedding of others' licensed works without permissions. More often, logo usage is observed for conceptual designs; designers like to relate their designs to that of a famous brand, they do so by incorporating world famous logos.
While most competitions would not have a problem with such behavior, professional awards and competitions have big issues when it comes to trademarks especially because good design awards, unlike local competitions, do publicity, publish yearbooks and distribute press releases which could attract the attention of brands, and could potentially cause legal issues and problems if they do not feel the way their trademarked, protected logos are used on designs that they did not have control over. Meanwhile, on the other hand, likewise, artists would not be happy to see their own creations embedded on the background of others designs, or models would not be happy to see themselves on designs that they do not relate to and not paid for. Thus, it is the interest of organizers to remove any copyright infringing material; even if the material is indeed itself not submitted for the awards.
Technical & Logistics problems: If the organizers did never receive your design, your chances of winning is none. Designers should make sure that their applications are indeed received and approved by the organizers. In some conditions, there could be some material that is lacking, in others there could be legal documents to be signed or fees to be paid or confirmations to be made.In other conditions, digital files could get corrupt, products could be lost or broken during shipment. No matter what, it is the designers responsibility to make sure that the designs are received by the organizers, has been included in the competition and will appear at results, be presented at the exhibition etc.
Overdoing: In some conditions it is seen that some participants do literally send dozens of designs to a design competition. When the projects are good and appealing, this is a pleasure for the organizer. However when the submitted designs are not so appealing but most importantly similar or variations of each other, it could lead to overall elimination of the participant from the event because it really tires the judges to see same things over and over.
Given this perspective, it should not be misinterpreted as a suggestion of not to submit multiple projects to an award; indeed submitting multiple varied designs increases your chances of winning. However, submitting variations of a design simply does the opposite. Designers are suggested to choose their best, distinct designs and submit only designs that they are certain of.
Identifiable: In most competitions, submissions are blindly judged, therefore adding the name, logo or copyright details to the presentations, pictures and images could lead to elimination of submitted works since it would make the competition not fair. In addition, it has also been observed at competitions that some over enthusiastic participants would try to get contact with judges or organizers to try to communicate their designs earlier. In most competitions, this kind of behavior results with the disqualification, therefore designers are advised to refrain from submitting identifiable works.
Eligibility Conditions: This could look obvious, and therefore I almost omitted to mention it, however a significant proportion of entry eliminations occur because the participants do not match the eligibility requirements stated by the organizers. Many competitions are open to students only, others could be local, some might impose an age restrictions, others will ask you to be a member of a professional association, and some will require you have a specific degree. Eligibility conditions shall be read in advance to avoid unnecessary loss of time.
I especially did not find the need to mention strategies for winning awards; because in essence such strategies should not be necessary for good awards. When participating a fair design competition, the only think a designer should focus on is doing a good work. In any case competition conditions should be already obeyed.
Since the above criteria are the most common reasons why designers do fail competitions, it should be suggested that organizers take some precautions and perhaps some necessary steps to decrease the number of eliminated entries such as providing each participant a submission guide, or actively filtering entries and letting participants know etc.
Yet in essence here are the main reasons why designers do succeed in competitions: 1. Good design, 2. Good presentation, 3. Competition brief or category compliance, terms & agreements, eligibility conditions, and entry requirements are matched and fulfilled. If a designer fills all the criteria above, the chances of winning is really great.

This article was added on Monday, 27th of January, 2014 at 06.26 am by author Onur Cobanli Tags: winning an award, losing an award, design award strategy, losing design awards, elimination from design competitions. Read our copyright policy here.




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