Back in the far past, in the third age of men, when you wanted something creative (copy, a graphic, a logo, you name it) you went to the phone book and found an agency. You called them and hoped it came out and maybe you got lucky.
In the near-olden days, like, the early 'oughts, if you wanted a great graphic, you asked your colleagues and sent some email to someone they'd worked with in the past. And maybe you got lucky.
Today, if your software needs icons, colors, or copy you can "crowdsource." Specifically, throw up a hail mary creative brief and see what you get. The thing is that unlike football where there are one or two receivers that are heavily covered (I'm still unhappy about the Giants), there are millions of possible receivers out there. The mass of partially or barely employed creatives are there to solve your problem!
CrowdSpring is one tool you can use. It's a fascinating portal where you post an award and pick a design. You are the judge and jury and if you don't like what you get by your deadline, you get your money back (sans the $90 or so to post). Chuck Palahniuk did it for his new novel, and CrowdSpring claims very high customer satisfaction.
I'm trying it with ShippingGreatness, so if you are a designer looking for $400 ($99 went to CrowdSpring, leaving you a $400 fee), check out the creative brief.
CrowdSpring is pretty easy to use. The only thing that's a bit silly is you compile your entire creative brief before you've logged in, which means that it's profoundly easy to lose your work. This is a bad design, but doesn't mean the concept is broken. CrowdSpring also isn't very transparent up front that you lose your "posting fees" if you choose not to go with any submissions, so beware.
I'll post on how the results turn out.