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    Justified: AIGA Annual Design Competition

    Justified evergreen 2014 hero image

    Explore the 2014 selections. The 2015 call for entries will be announced in January with an entry deadline of April 30, 2015.

    The “Justified” jury, chaired by Christopher Simmons (MINE™, San Francisco), reviewed all entries based on the clarity of concept or idea, the quality of execution and aesthetics. Questions the jurors considered include “Did the work do its job? Is it effective? well-crafted? beautifully executed?”

    Designers who entered the strongest projects—those that are most engaging and inspiring—were invited to provide further detail to advance to Round 2. The best examples made a project and its impact clear to the design profession, clients and society at large.

    Get ready to show others why your design matters. Whether your project was for a global company, a national nonprofit, a local small business or self-promotion, we'll want to hear from you when we announce the 2015 call for entries in January!


    Criteria for round 1 (closed)

    • Strength of concept or idea
    • Success of formal execution, aesthetics

    Criteria for round 2 (Notifications were sent on March 18)

    • Description of outcomes: project effectiveness and measures
    • Impact (based upon The Living Principles criteria of Culture, Economy, Environment and People)
    • Process or methodology used


    • Projects that have been published, produced or implemented in the past two years are eligible. School projects and concept designs are not eligible since they cannot be described in terms of impact.
    • Entries from all countries are eligible; foreign-language entries must include an English translation.


    • Project disciplines may include: book/publication design, editorial design, brand and identity systems design, corporate communications design, design for entertaining, environmental graphic design, exhibit design, experience design, service design, information design, interaction and application design, marketing/promotional design and advertising, motion graphics, package design, placemaking design, product design, industrial design or typographic design.
    • Projects may be any format: objects, messages, campaigns, on-air spots, spaces, experiences or services.

    How to enter round 1 (closed)

    1. Log in to the online entry system with your AIGA credentials
    2. Fill out the online entry form
    3. Upload images
    4. Agree to the competition terms
    5. Submit payment online
    6. Print a copy of your entry for your records
    7. Watch your inbox in March 2014 (sent on March 18) to find out whether your work was selected for round two.

      Entry fees

      AIGA members   Nonmembers  
      $35 per entry $55 per entry

      Preparing your work: Round 1

      This year, Round 1 only requires you to provide a brief project description, up to 12 images and the categories that place your entry in context.

      • Gather information before you begin the entry process. We suggest you type up the information in a separate document and edit to comply with maximum word counts.
      • Paste information into the online form. Having the information ready to go will make the entry process as smooth as possible and will help you avoid losing your data if the system times out.
      • Allow yourself time to complete the online entry well in advance of the deadline.
      • After you log in to the competitions system with your AIGA credentials, you will be required (*) to submit the following:

      Project information

      Brevity is welcome. However, thoughtfulness and completeness are also critical. The word limits below are maximums, not targets!

      Personal information

      Tell the jury who you are and how they can contact you.

      Project details

      This information will help the judges understand the context for the project: title, client, role of the designer, industry, discipline, project duration and release date.

      Project abstract/summary (200 words or less)*

      Provide a brief overview of your design project and key contextual information that will help the jury understand the work.

      Additional information

      As a tool for learning, cases will be most useful if there is budget information. Additional information may be published if your case study is selected.


      • Development budget
      • Indicate if this project is a retainer relationship or an in-house ongoing relationship.
      • Production/execution budget (media, printing, fabrication)
      • Source of funding (client, funded internally, trade/barter, donations/crowdsourcing, nonprofit/NGO/trust fund)

      Project images and video

      To give the jury the best representation of your project, upload more than one image. At least four images are recommended per submission; you may submit a maximum of 12 images. In addition to images of the final product/design, you are encouraged to upload “process,” prototype or development images.

      Images (minimum one; maximum 12)*
      If possible, provide photos or image documentation of relevant designs prior to your involvement (e.g., photo of competitors, “before”  shot of website, old logo), including anything that you were not able to explain in the written format.

      • Images must be 640 pixels wide (height variable), 500 kb or less, 72 dpi, quality 12
      • JPG, GIF and PNG formats are accepted in RGB
      • File names should include the entry title, image number (001, 002, 003, etc.) and contain no spaces. Please use an underscore (i.e., title_001.png)

      Captions and credits*
      For each image, you will need to provide:

      • Caption to briefly describe/label the image (100 words or less)
      • Credit to acknowledge the photographer/source (100 words or less)

      Video (optional; maximum of 3)
      If you’d like to share video clips or reels for your project, please enter the URL. For each video, you will need to provide:

      • Caption to briefly describe/label the video (100 words or less)
      • Credit to acknowledge the creator/source (100 words or less)


      Preparing your work: Round 2 (closed)

      Please note: Round two requirements only apply to those selected in round one to continue on; notifications were sent March 18.

      The brief

      Summarize the project brief, including key objectives and a description of the audience or market that the project is intended to reach and influence.

      Address some or all of the following questions (350 words or less)*

      • What were the implicit/explicit goals of the project? Determined by whom?
      • Who is the intended audience/users?
      • Why would they care or need the solution? Does it even matter?
      • If you can, describe the issue that needed to be solved or addressed.

      Provide background about the industry and/or market info (350 words or less)*
      Some questions you might consider in responding:

      • Is it a consumer or business-to-business market?
      • Is it highly competitive or a new niche?
      • Is the sector buffeted by demographic changes or stable?
      • Is the work competing against similar design considerations?

      Strategy and approach

      Many design solutions are necessarily part of a broader strategy. This section should identify the related ideas or concepts that define the solution as well as the plans for implementation that address challenges and satisfy market demand. Please provide links to studies, reports or reference materials if you feel they would shed additional light on the challenge.

      Address some or all of the following questions (500 words or less)*

      • What informed how you approached the project?
      • What didn't you know? What did you know?
      • What insights or learning were imparted on the solution or approach?
      • Was there a deadline and/or a milestone that drove this project?

      What research did you do? (250 words or less)*
      Research can contribute to a design’s success at both its formative stage and in evaluation. Research undertaken to inform the design process should be discussed, as well as any research undertaken to measure effectiveness. Please describe the consequence of the research. Anecdotal evidence is just that—please don't confuse this as a “measure of effectiveness.”

      Project team (200 words or less)*
      What was the composition of the team, their role and involvement?
      List team members using the format “Title/role: First_name Last_name” (e.g., “Art director: “Sarah Smith” or “Copywriter: John Bains”).

      The design solution

      This section addresses your design solution and includes the opportunity to describe the challenges you faced.

      Address some or all of the following questions (500 words or less)*

      • Describe why the design solution was appropriate to the project's objectives.
      • How do the design directions initially presented compare with the final results?
      • What design constraints were placed from the outset?
      • Was the design solution seen as an evolutionary change or a radical departure?
      • Was it met with initial objections from the client?

      What challenges were inherent in the project? (350 words or less)*


      Tell us how your project was received by your client/users/customers; to the extent that you are able, provide data measuring the effectiveness of your design solution.

      Entries will be judged for being well crafted, respectful of the intelligence and dignity of its audiences, and representative of a degree of aesthetic achievement. Although more specific metrics of effectiveness and responsibility are outlined here, the jury will be giving equally substantial weight to these judgments of good design.

      Project effectiveness (350 words or less)*
      Why do you think the solution meets and/or exceeds the goal(s) initially set?

      Measures of effectiveness (350 words or less)*
      Quantifiable results about sales, website traffic, viewers, users and/or market share information are strongly encouraged and very important to the jury’s review process. If available, please provide metrics. Results are best when they measure change over time.

      To help guide your answers in the Results section, download a sample Living Principles scorecard and describe how each of the following was affected by your project. The jury will use a similar scorecard in considering the impact of your project on the economy, people, the environment and culture.

      • Economy: For your client, this could mean simply ROI, increased sales or even money saved because of your smart solution. All are excellent outcomes.
      • People: In the scope of your project objectives, this means engagement of your target audience (e.g., number of households reached, page views, tweets, Facebook friends, strategic media placement or coupons redeemed).
      • Environment: Whether or not it was a client mandate, did you consider the environmental impact of your project? This could include energy conservation or offsets, using recycled or otherwise sustainable materials, selecting an alternate delivery mechanism that removes the need for materials (i.e., a web banner instead of a direct mail campaign), or otherwise reduces, reuses or recycles.
      • Culture: Did your solution extend beyond the target audience in quantifiable ways? Did it have a quantifiable impact on the culture at large? This may mean media coverage, viral distribution or even being admired and imitated.

      Additional information (continued)

      Additional information may be published if your case study is selected.

      Reviews, mentions, honors by users, customers or clients (optional; 250 words or less)
      Provide any feedback, quotes, citations and/or URLs from users, customers or clients. This information will be used to give the jury context about your project and may be published if your work is selected.

      Anything else you’d like to share? (optional; 350 words or less)
      Include anything else you’d like to share with the jury! You may use this section to share project-related website URLs.


      Permission to reproduce work

      By submitting work to the competitions, the entrant grants AIGA the right to use accepted work for reproduction in competitions-related publications; on its website; in the ensuing exhibition of the competitions’ selections; and for educational and AIGA-related noncommercial promotional purposes.


      Still have questions? Go to the competition FAQs or contact our competitions team.


      The most effective design combines craft, design thinking and passion to solve problems—both complex and simple. Creativity, innovation and inspiration are married with empathy, insight and systems thinking to achieve great results, meet clients’ objectives and assert design as a cultural force. “Justified: AIGA Design Competition” will collect and showcase the stories behind the best design, to demonstrate the collective success and impact of the design profession. Ready to be inspired? Play the video!

      Past selections

      Fourteen case studies were selected in 2013.
      Eighteen case studies were selected in 2012

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