Spec work, short for Speculative– is asking a designer or agency to create work on the contingency that you will pay for it… if you like it. Sound nice? Think again.

Do you go into a restaurant and only pay if you enjoyed your meal? Do you ask an architect to design your dream house, then not pay because you changed your mind? Would you hire a landscaper redo your yard but then not pay because you now want flowers instead of shrubbery? Of course not– that would be absurd. And frankly, unfair.

Unfortunately there is a perception to some that design or advertising professionals shouldn’t be treated the same way as other professionals– sites like 99Designs pit starving artists against each other in the hopes that one of them might get paid. One does (poorly I might add) and the others are not compensated at all for their work.

As a result, you get what you pay for—poor, uninspired-relatively generic work. Often the ‘designers’ reuse the same generic work over and over again to save time overall, or worse yet—some copy or rip off designs from established businesses. In the end, you don’t get solid work, designers don’t put in a realistic amount of time so the product isn’t great, and 98 people were completely uncompensated. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for them, it’s bad for the industry.

Topic Simple has recently put out a great little short film outlining why you shouldn’t ever hire design work on spec, or as a designer, never agree to work for free. We won’t do it, and you shouldn’t, either.

If you are a client looking for a well thought out Corporate Identity for your business and not schlock, give us a call. We’d love to collaborate with you on a well-thought-out, smart solution.