The other day, I decided to open a donut shop. I christened my new venture Diddy Donuts (regrettable tagline: “Get Diddy With It”) and set out to find a logo. Doing all this from my desk at work would probably qualify as time-theft if this wasn’t all a ruse—my real work was to meet the designers of Fiverr.

If you’re not familiar with Fiverr, it’s a crowd-sourcing site for creative work that uses a $5 price tag as its primary hook. While all kinds of creative services are available, from copy writing to editing to video and animation, the $5 logo design was what caught our eye at Well Done. Was it actually possible to get a decent logo for five bucks?

On one hand, the idea seems ridiculous—of course you can’t brand your company that cheaply and expect good results. But on the other, we live in an age that devalues creative work of all kinds, either because of outright theft or the glut of amateur writers and artists willing to work for “exposure.”

There was only one way to find out for sure. And that’s how Diddy Donuts came to be.

The Portfolios
Fiverr gives you two ways to get started. You can post a general request, detailing the work you need and hoping to get some nibbles, or you can browse through portfolios and contact a designer directly.

I tried both. I posted my request, and then began browsing. Some of the portfolios were obviously terrible:

The dolphin is a nice touch, let's be honest

 

But some of them included some quite professional pieces, designed for recognizable clients:

 

Wait, this guy did the Fiverr logo?

 

Was the designer of the logos for the Culinary Institute of America and the Capital One Cup really pitching his wares on Fiverr? If so, that seemed noteworthy. I decided to ask.

 

J'ACCUSE!

To his credit, he was up front about the fact that the logos weren’t his. But it still seemed a little… disingenuous to feature them in his profile at all. At this point, though, I was receiving responses to my proposal request. I turned my attention to my new crop of designers.

The Designs
Before a designer on Fiverr begins work, typically they’ll have a few questions. What are your company colors? Do you have a tagline? What would you like to see included? One designer, in lieu of asking about Diddy Donuts, encouraged me to leave an extra tip before work began.

For consistency, I sent all the designers the same information. Diddy Donuts is an Indianapolis-based donut shop, established in 2015. Our colors are pink and gold. Yes, we really do want to use “Get Diddy With It.” With that information, the designs began to come in.

Some were less than encouraging:

Glamorous

 

Others, though, were pretty okay (if lacking a little color):

Where's my pink and gold!?

 

But not everything was worth the money. One designer, for instance, proposed to sell me four separate logo designs for twenty dollars. Sure, I thought. Might as well see some variety, right?

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.10.27 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.10.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.10.13 AM

 

Or maybe not. Okay, maybe I misunderstood–maybe I was paying $20 for two very similar designs. I could work with that. Like many designers, this one offered a few free revisions. I could request three changes to my logo before I’d have to pay another fee. So I sent her an email:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.23.04 AM

And here is the new, Indianapolis-centric design she delivered:

The unmistakable skyline of [INSERT CITY]

 

Here you can see the Diddy Donuts logo positioned over a skyline—just, well, not the Indianapolis skyline.

Other designers were more generous with their revisions. One of them offered unlimited revisions, so I sent a more extensive request. Here is our exchange:

"Oh, sure, Diddy Donuts is a fine donut shop... if you like GLAZED GARBAGE"

 

The other issue with this and most of my orders was that the $5 price did not actually include the source files. What that means is that if I wanted to, say, blow up the image to use on a billboard or a front window, I wouldn’t be able to do so without compromising the image.

So how do you get the source files? Much the same way you get anything else on Fiverr. You pay for it.

The Extras

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.14.57 PM   Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 10.57.58 AM

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.50.24 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.01.20 PM

These are all extras sold by designers I purchased logos from. Yes, the initial design for all my logos came in at $5 as advertised. But assuming I need something beyond the first .jpeg file a designer sent me, I’m going to pay a fair bit more.

None of this is to say that there aren’t good designers on Fiverr, or that no company has ever had a satisfying experience. But there is also a lot of noise to filter through, and the only way to separate the quality designers from the awful ones is at $5 a pop, and that’s just to get started. The best way to spend as little money as possible on Fiverr? Keep your standards low.

The Takeaway
As Sacha Greif wrote, after conducting a similar experiment, Fiverr devalues logo design the way “a $2 burger at a fast-food joint devalues a $35 Kobe beef burger at an upscale steakhouse.” If you care about your business, your logo, and your advertising, you probably also care enough to invest in an actual agency.

But if you don’t? Take a few minutes to brush up on using clip art in Microsoft Word. You may just save yourself a couple bucks.