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How to Win a design contest. Tips and Tricks

In this article, we aim to discuss the nature of Design competitions and the various factors one must keep in mind while enrolling in competition and working towards a prize. We will be taking a stepwise approach to ensure that a designer is absolutely clear on every aspect of competition, be it the client needs, or simply using his/her imagination and creativity to its complete potential.

Competition is everywhere, and the world of design is no less. With Design becoming one of the premier factors of a business, more and more youngsters are taking to design as a career. The immense surge of young designers has awakened the competitive spirit, leading to the emergence of huge competitions like BIMA and D&AD.

How to win a design contest

Tips and Tricks to get that win

There is no guaranteed formula or magic formula to win a design contest, but the following tips and tricks sure can get you closer to the pedestal:

1. Quality plays a greater role than quantity.

2. Contest design briefs - a must-read

3. Responsiveness to contest holder's comments

4. Creating designs customised to the clientèle

5. Avoid submitting generic designs

6. Originality is key

7. Express and explain your designs

8. Commit to rapid prototyping

9. Pay attention to presentation

Keeping these in mind, it is also mandatory for a designer to know about various design contests and what is suitable for him/her. For a newbie, big contests with heavy prizes can be overwhelming, intimidating, and highly discouraging. Any designer must keep the following tips in mind:

1. Finding the right contests for you -

Play to your strengths once you discover them. Make sure not to be baited by the prize money, and most importantly, try not to fall prey to all client invitations.

2. Picking fresh contests -

As a general rule, you should enter fresh, new Design Contests with lesser entries. That way, clients will be more receptive to your ideas, and you’ll have more time to build a relationship with them.

3. Read and reread briefs -

The brief will be your blueprint for what the client wants. Nothing impresses a client more than you do your research and makes for a good design suiting the client personally. Ask questions, iterate, and build a relationship that will you set you up for success.

4. Differentiate from the masses -

Do your own thing, even if the deadlines are tight. A patch of colour amidst the grey masses goes a long way. Make your design eye-catching and different enough to grab immediate attention. Maybe try some design thinking tools such as SCAMPER to come up with out of the box ideas.

5. Know when to quit -

Cutting losses is imperative. If you know early on that a contest is not going well, convince yourself to quit and move on. Perseverance is handy only when there's a proper opportunity.

6. Publicise your win -

A foolproof way to attract clients, publicity is of the essence. Blog posts, press releases to appropriate media, email blasts - everything works.

All seriousness aside, stick to the basics. Look for inspiration in anything and everything around you. It's the most unlikely places that the best quirks emerge from. Make sure to sketch and map it out and work on improvements constantly along the way. Involve your friends, peers and family. A varied audience with widespread mindsets and viewpoints makes for a good place to test your ideas and receive preliminary feedback. Most importantly, have fun! Play around with your designs, bring out your inner creative lunatic and let your ideas flow.


In the world of Design, the surge of designers has taken the world by storm and brought forth the competitive streak within all. Design competitions nowadays have become increasingly tough, and one truly has to commit to emerging victorious. Here are certain tips and tricks that can place a designer in the running for the grand prize.


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