Contest to Design a Submarine Logo

I have always thought it would be awesome to design a mission patch for NASA, knowing that your creation would be plastered on items that will go to space!! Short of that pipe dream, designing the winning crest for a new submarine would be pretty cool, too!

The USS Colorado is a new submarine in the US Navy and the ship’s commissioning committee is holding a contest for the crest’s creation. The crest—akin to a logo—will appear on uniform patches, plaques on the ship, and other places throughout the Virginia class submarine. The contest is already open, with the deadline being March 1, 2015. There is a $10 entry fee and you grant a transfer of copyright upon submission. In addition to knowing your work is swiftly cruising through the world’s oceans, the senior division winner gets a $1500 scholarship or cash prize, as well as a trip to the commissioning ceremony in Connecticut. There is a junior division for children middle school-aged and younger.

The commissioning committee reminds entrants that the crest should include certain elements, such as what makes the sub’s namesake state special—in this case, Colorado—and includes links to other state-named ships’ crests. Being from Colorado, I am enjoying the irony of naming a submarine after a landlocked state. I also look forward to the prominent use of mountains—what most people think the Centennial State is all about—in the final design. Like many contests of this nature, the final product might not even come from contest submissions, as the final decision lies with the ship’s commanding officer.

Posted on: January 13, 2015

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for an unbelievable 30 years! She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular presence at CreativePro Week’s PePcon and InDesign Conferences, and has spoken at ebookcraft in Canada and Making Design in Norway. You can find Erica’s online tutorials at CreativeLive and through her YouTube channel. When she isn’t at her computer, she can be found exploring her new homebase of Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest.

10 Comments on Contest to Design a Submarine Logo

  1. The new twist is the designer pays to crowdsource!

  2. I think I would feel like that if this was for a for-profit company. I think it’s fun and maybe in my own little way, would feel like I was doing something for those that serve our country.

    I once entered a contest to design my city’s new police cars. I would have loved to have won…I would have felt a great pride knowing that I designed something that was a part of the fabric of my community. In the end, sadly, they didn’t even pick a winner and went with classic black and white a lá old-school LAPD.

  3. Unbelievable! You mean I can actually PAY to have my design rejected?!

    Thats a pretty insulting prize for the winner – considering what the compensation of a branding program should reflect. How much did that sub cost you?

  4. ANY “contest”  where you have to pay to enter is bogus. Plus you give up copyright? Puh-lease.  I guarantee,  no one involved in this on the committee works for free.  Every part in that boat went for a premium and was designed to a standard.  Did any of those designers pay to work for free?

  5. I think it’s fun! I imagine the $10 entry fee covers the prize and let’s face it I spend more at Starbucks in one day! And, to think my design, if chosen, may one day strike fear in the hearts of our country’s enemies…..

    All joking aside, I think it is a perfect contest for graphic design students to practice their skills and maybe win a two-day trip.


  6. Melissa J. Mayo

    January 15, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I cannot believe that Creative Pro and InDesign Secrets would actually support spec work! Please educate yourselves on why this practice is unethical and why a logo contest could possibly be illegal.

  7. Yes indeed, I fully agree with discouraging spec work. I’m also surprise that Creative Pro would encourage such a practice. A sound professionnal proposition with a fair budget would be a very small price to pay for this “so many millions it costed” submarine…

  8. Hi Melissa-

    I see that this article really touched a nerve. I’ve worked side by side with designers for 20 years, so I understand and value their expertise as well as anyone. This article or any like it is not meant to endorse the notion that designers shouldn’t be paid for their work. It’s simply a news item about a contest that could that could serve as a chance for someone to have fun, be creative, and work on their skills. Entering a contest like this might not be the right choice for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice for everyone.

  9. Terre Dunivant

    March 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Seriously, CreativePro. You’re promoting a design contest? With an entry fee?!And Mike, you’re defending it? Wow, dude. Just say no. I expect you to defend creative professionals, not sell us out.You’re a wage guy, so maybe you don’t know what it’s like for working designers to have to fend off the expectation that we just love to work for free. I’m asked at least once a month if I’ll donate my time to this or that worthy cause. Do you think we like to disappoint people on a regular basis? I’ve gotten around that somewhat by offering a nonprofit rate, but people who think designers should be happy to donate their work go away from you not having gotten what they want.You promoting contests like this is the reason some people think we work for free. You promoting contests is hurting creative professionals. The Navy has more money than it knows what to do with. Our money – which we have to pay whether we want to or not. They don’t have to go begging for designers to donate their time, when every one of the promoters is getting paid living wages for their efforts.Mike, you’re right that some people want to enter contests. In most cases, those people are not professional designers, trying to make a living. Or they don’t have to make money, for whatever reason: mom and dad are paying for college, their spouse makes the living wage, they’re independently wealthy…You can do what you want on your website, of course, but if you want to keep promoting spec work, please consider changing the name from CreativePro to CreativePoor.

    • Anne-Marie Concepcion

      March 5, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Full disclosure: I’m co-publisher of this site.

      I don’t consider a logo contest to be spec work. (Neither does the AIGA : But I do agree that these kinds of contests fall in the gray area — you often see them for non-profits or government entities (city of Chicago’s car sticker design comes to mind).

      But in most every case, they’re NOT doing it to save money on a designer’s fee, but for promotional purposes, for fun, to get the community involved, for the press opportunities afterwards, etc. I don’t believe the Navy is going “begging for designers to donate their time” at all. They’re opening it up to kids for heaven’s sakes.

      For pro designers who make a living doing branding and put in the hard-won knowledge and research time etc. into crafting the best logo for a client, I can understand where these contests may appear to belittle their profession. But I think that sensitivity comes from too many *clients* (or prospective clients) asking for spec work, and so our antennae are on high alert.

      Spec work is when a prospective client asks a handful of design firms to do some serious work on a logo or branding plan or brochure, and then they’re going to choose one, and that one, they’ll pay, the others are dismissed. I’ve dealt with these kinds of clients a few times in my life, and yes once I was hard-up enough to go for it. (No, I didn’t get it.)

      Logo design contests, while often distateful to professional designers, are normally NOT spec work. I’m certain the Navy has plenty of money for a submarine logo (which sounds kind of dumb to me but, I’m not Navy) and I’m sure they’ve paid the going rate for them before and will do so again.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.