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How I designed the IFVP member badge

A little while back, the International Fellowship of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) ran a competition for their members to come up with a membership badge, and I’m absolutely chuffed to hear that I won!


IFVP is a worldwide organisation that promotes, teaches and supports visual professionals and practices, and works to advance community growth and development in this important area of visual thinking and visual communication. From the IFVP announcement: “Ben’s simple design was voted by 5 of the board members, making his design the most popular. We appreciate everyone who submitted designs and to all of our members who voted.  Many thanks all around!”

While it was fresh in my mind, I wanted to describe the creative process for coming up with my entries (including the one that was chosen).

Immersing in the brief

In any client-led creative exercise like this, I spend a long time immersing myself in the brief; in this case the strategic intent of the membership badge, the audience types and what they want out of it, as well as where the badge would be displayed, and how it might be received by those audiences’ audiences.

Designing for a community

I suspected that many people would submit hand-drawn badges — which would still be super nice — but I thought that I’d have to find a visual treatment that balanced ‘professionalism’ with ‘community’. It’d also have to work at small sizes (like email footers), and cope with being printed on various different surfaces (like cloth tote bags, t-shirts, and signage).

Of course it had to feature the IFVP logo, but I wanted it to really embrace the spirit of the community, which is enthusiastic about sharing information, supporting each other, and spreading the visual practitioner love into every area, market and domain. So each element within the design had to have significance, and I wanted it to be something that IFVP members would be proud to show.

My 5 entries

With these thoughts in mind, I ended up doing 5 different designs. Each one started as messy sketches, which I then imported into Adobe Illustrator and used as a ‘background’ on which to do digital designs in vector lines, shapes and text.

Design 1 – Banding together


Design 2 – Onward and upward


Design 3 – Ring of authority


Design 4 – Making our markBenCrothers4-usage-example-800

 Design 5 – All tied togetherBenCrothers5-usage-example-800

So there you go! Which design (if any) would you have chosen? What tips do you have about designing something like a community membership badge?

IFVP members! Grab the full set of membership badge image files from this page on the IFVP website (you’ll need to be logged in first).

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Voting for the Government 2.0 Taskforce banner competition is on

I recently submitted four designs for the Government 2.0 Taskforce logo/banner competition. This competition has already generated a bit of heat from the design community, but I’m taking this competition in the spirit in which it’s intended: open community involvement, and encouraging government to get into online collaboration a bit more.

And now you can vote on which ones you like! Just go to their voting page here. My entries are numbers 10, 11, 12 and 13 (below).

My entries for the Government 2.0 Taskforce banner competition

My entries for the Government 2.0 Taskforce banner competition

As the Government 2.0 Taskforce website says: “Your votes will be influential, but we will make the final decision largely because it is too difficult for us to be confident that the result of a popular poll represents the views of a representative sample of participants on our blog and the ease with which such competitions can be influenced by campaigning and multiple voting”.


Open markets: let’s not forget the ‘we’ in web 2.0

The Government 2.0 Taskforce has announced a competition to design a banner for their website Judging from the comments on their announcement and call for entries, there’s a lot of huffing and puffing about not doing spec work. I think they’ve missed the point, and I also think this shows one of the honest truths about doing things the ‘web 2.0′ way.

The comments raise some worthy issues about spec work devaluing design as a commodity and the design industry itself. Some go so far as to comment that it’s offensive and degrading. There’s examples cited like:

“Do you ask your dentist, mechanic or accountant to do work for free on the off chance that the pride they have in their work may be acknowledged publicly? I doubt it.”

Now, I’m involved in writing proposals, quoting for work, and sharing ideas and concepts with potential clients, all to win business. That’s how it’s done. As Lisa Harvey over at Energetica (who it should be said is part of the Taskforce) says: “my team and I spend a lot of time with clients, preparing proposals and tenders, all of which contain our ideas, our expertise and a lot of other stuff that should be paid for. We win some, we lose some. It’s business.

Perhaps some commenters aren’t grasping that different commodities and services (dentist, mechanic, designer) operate in different market set-ups. Dentists don’t write proposals to fix your teeth.

And maybe they’re also not seeing the spirit in which this competition is intended: collaboration and participation. Is it Nike or Microsoft running a competition with no prize? No. It’s government. Our government. Your government. For all the times that people like us wish we could contribute more to government and have a say… well, this is just one of those ways.

The whole ‘web 2.0′ zeitgeist has grown off the back of a lot of people contributing a lot of creativity, design, and content for nothing. And I’m sure those who argue for no-spec have done well by taking some of the contribution and used it for themselves.

This is all about give and take. Let’s not forget to give every now and then.