How a Logo Design Process Kick-Started My Brand
With the slogan ‘Design is the Secret to Great Business’, 99designs has pioneered the use of crowdsourcing to bring together clients of every budget with over 1 million registered designers around the world. In this detailed, personal tutorial, I will guide you through the 99designs process that I used to select dynamic branding that has brought new interest to my brand and revenue to my business.
The process of developing a brand was once a lengthy, complicated and expensive endeavor – even more so if you wanted intelligent and relevant input into your design by talented graphic designers. Online design giant 99designs.com has revolutionized this process, invigorating millions of small business brands like yours. Before we delve into what 99designs can do for your brand, let’s investigate the mechanism that makes 99designs so powerful: graphic design crowdsourcing.
NOTE: All logos on this page were designed by the talented artists at 99designs
- What is Crowdsourcing?
- How My Experience Is Uniquely Useful to You
- How 99designs Works
- PROs & CONs of 99designs
- Educate Yourself about Logos (Logo Design 101)
- Step by Step: How to Run a Logo Design Contest
- #1 Complete Design Brief
- #2 Select a Design Package
- #3 Begin the Design Contest
- #4 Find and Invite Quality Designers
- #5 Designers Submit Design Ideas
- #6 Initial Impressions & Feedback
- #7 Review Revised Designs
- #8 Polling Collaboration
- #9 Select Your Perfect Logo
- #10 Download Files
- #11 Use Your Logo to Build Your Brand
- 99designs Resources
- Sample 99 Logos by Industry
- Sink your teeth into these great Dental Logos.
- Construction Logos that will help you build your brand.
- Hungry for the perfect Restaurant Logo? These are tasty.
- Physical Fitness Logos to buff up your branding.
- These Religious Logos balance innovation with classical inspiration.
- Want to put your brand on the market? Check out these Logos for Real Estate.
- 99designs vs Competitors
- FAQ 99designs Logo Design Contests
What is Crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. It is a sourcing model in which an organization solicits goods or services from a large group of interested parties outside of the organization. The solicited contributions can range from startup capital (ie crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter & indigogo), business names (ie naming contests at Squadhelp) to business ideas.
The outside parties submit contributions in exchange for some sort of buy-in. For instance, if the crowdsourcing is a request for startup capital, the contributors may gain a financial stake in the company. If the crowdsourcing is a call for innovation, contributors may be compensated with a fee or with recognition if their ideas are selected. Designers at 99designs compete for a monetary prize when you select their design and they win the contest.
Crowdsourcing differs from outsourcing in that the results come from a public, less-defined group of contributors. This can reduce costs or increase speed, scalability, and flexibility. Read important power tips in the step by step tutorial on how to get the most value from launching a logo contest on 99designs.
99designs Company History
In 1998, a pair of Australian web designers launched SitePoint, a forum for web designers and developers. When designers on this site began organizing contests, the site’s founders started charging a fee to host the competitions, and 99designs was born.
In 2008, the company broke 99designs off from its parent concept and opened a San Francisco office. By 2016, 99designs had over 1 million designers. It currently debuts new designs at a rate of over one per second!
Over the past 11 years, 99designs has refined and enhanced its platform to offer an arsenal of services. Clients can now use a battery of search tools to select a designer outright or run an open design contest around a carefully curated design brief.
How My Experience Is Uniquely Useful to You
Over the past few decades, I have opened and operated a series of successful small businesses.
I have watched internet platforms, such as 99designs, develop into fantastic and economical assets for aspiring business owners with limited resources.
As a small business consultant, my experience with brand and design development has multiplied. From my entrepreneur blog Best 4 Businesses, I have had the privilege of personally steering many design development efforts.
When it came time to give Best 4 Businesses its own brand overhaul, I purchased (yes, bought with my own money – not comped by the vendor) a logo design contest at 99designs. I wanted to conduct an unbiased, and private, test of the process of using the site to create a new logo brand and share my experience with you, my readers.
Not only can I attest that the experience has delivered a quality brand identity that has increased the quality of my online presence, but I can also walk you through the entire authentic process of brand definition and logo selection – step by step tutorial (complete with power tips to get the most from your logo contest).
Over the course of this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate how to effectively run a design contest to select the best logo design for your small business. I will walk through my personal experience launching a logo contest to select and refine the design that I currently use for online presence (see my cool new logo on the top left of this page!). Through an over-the-shoulder, annotated video series, you can experience my entire process from design brief to final design selection.
This is your comprehensive field guide to crowdsourcing logos and other design projects using 99designs.
How 99designs Works
For a small business or any individual interested in an economic or innovative design strategy, 99designs offers two principal avenues:
- Host a Design Contest. Select a designer based on responses to a creative brief.
- Use search tools to locate and Hire a Designer Outright.
While the second option can also be a successful strategy for design, I’m going to walk you through, the preference of most entrepreneurs, how to Launch Design Contest with 99designs. For only $299, I ran a quick and effective design contest which produced over 100 viable logo designs! For cash-conscious startups (like most lean startup entrepreneurs) the beauty of the design contest is the ratio of cost to design selections.
The power of crowdsourcing makes this possible. It is much more efficient and effective to enlist the design talents of 99designs’ 1 million+ designers than pursue traditional avenues of finding and hiring a branding agency or individual graphic designer.
The speed of logo design creation is another fantastic benefit of hosting a design contest with 99designs. The entire process from design brief to the final product can take as little as a week – compared to months with a traditional approach.
Finally, by using the 99designs process, you remove the risks associated with choosing any single unknown designer for a project. Since graphic design is subjective, there is often a disconnect between the vision of the client and the reality of the delivered product. This can lead to frustrating sidetracking and stalled projects. When you host a design contest with 99designs, the failure of a single designer to deliver is easily overcome by awarding the final project to another.
Broad artistic input greatly benefited my logo creation project. This diversity of ideas and styles enabled me to view many concepts and perspectives that would have been impossible with a single agency or artist.
PROs & CONs of 99designs
Before we walk through the process of hosting a design contest, let’s examine some of the benefits and potential shortcomings of logo design contests for your new brand.
- Affordability – While it continues to offer benefits for more established, profitable businesses, 99designs is a perfect fit for small businesses and cost-conscious entrepreneurs.
- Wide Selection of Designs – Launching a graphic design contest results in a large volume of design ideas to review. As a client, you get the benefit from your final design and from all of the others you’ve been exposed to during the process.
- User-Friendly Process – Because it was created by graphic designers working in a digital forum, 99designs has unparalleled ease-of-access. Not only is it intuitive, but it’s also actually a great deal of fun!
- Customer Service – Agents provide prompt, friendly feedback and troubleshooting via chat, email tickets and phone support (which is available in multiple languages). They can help with anything from technical support to suggestions on how to run an effective contest – even will walk you through completing the design brief questionnaire.
- Money-Back Guarantee – As part of your contest set-up, you can select the option for a 60 day money-back guarantee. This may result in receiving fewer submissions (as designers are more hesitant), but it is a fantastic option to establish peace-of-mind for first-time users of the platform.
- Fast Results – Within hours of your design contest launch, you will begin receiving design submissions. Depending on your own pace of moving through the stages, you can have your finalized design in under a week. My entire process took six days!
- Multiple Services – While I am focusing on the initial logo design with this tutorial, 99designs offers a large selection of services from business cards to website design – packaging design too! Since you will be working within one design palette (and possibly with the same designer(s), you can see more time and money savings using these services.
- Ongoing Collaboration – If you run a design contest for your initial work and love your final designer, you can continue to grow the relationship over future projects!
- Design Brief Creation – Completing the design brief process takes committed time and thought. While 99designs makes the procedure as fun and intuitive as possible, it is still only effective if you are proactive. You may not know how to create a design, but you have to make decisions along the way to craft the best end result. If you’re not sure whether or not design brief creation is in your wheelhouse, I suggest contacting the helpful customer service at 99designs or reading some insightful articles on their blog: The Creative Edge.
- New Working Process – The use of internet-based marketplaces, such as 99designs, may require you to expand your skill set to use this new technology effectively. You also need strong communication skills and patience working with a variety of people who may communicate very differently, some of whom are not native English speakers. No worries. You do not need to speak foreign languages, online translation software will convert all contacts into English.
- Remote Working Process – Some people are wary of a process that relies on relationships sculpted without ever meeting face-to-face. If this is true for you, consider using Skype or other video conferencing to further connect with your designer. I recommend using screen share to share your design doodle ideas in real-time.
- Results Depend on Participation – All-in-all, the process produces better results when you are actively involved. The submission of mood boards, sample images, and timely feedback all take attention and effort. 99designs is a better fit for clients who want a deep involvement with their project.
Who is a 99designs’ Design Contest is Right For?
If you are a cost-conscious entrepreneur who is comfortable online, enjoys the engagement, communicates well, and desires a high degree of design control, 99designs is a great fit for you.
Who is a 99designs’ Design Contest is Wrong For?
If you are uncomfortable working with non-native English speakers, unaccustomed to online relationships and outsourcing, or unwilling to actively participate in the design concept and constructive feedback process, 99designs’ design contest may be a poor fit for you.
You may be better served using an individual designer for your project. Using the designer search platform from 99designs, you can narrow down to a single candidate and award the project yourself. Once you hire a designer, you can have multiple phone calls, video or Skype calls with screen sharing.
You may also want to hire a local ad agency or a professional graphic artist in your market area.
Prep Before You Start Your Logo Design Contest
The conception of a great marketing design starts well before the graphic artist crafts the initial image. It begins with you developing your core brand message, determining your unique selling position (USP), researching your competition, and focusing on your target customer.
Video #1: Follow along with the first of four over-the-shoulder videos as I demonstrate a Design Brainstorming Activity at the beginning of my own logo creation process.
Brainstorm Your Message
Start by brainstorming your brand vision and message. What are the words you want your customers to associate with your company and products? To help you formulate this concept, try answering some of these questions. You don’t need to incorporate all of the answers in your brand vision, but defining them will help you refine your brand in your own mind – and communicate your vision to your 99designs designers.
- What type of company are you? B2B, B2C, Online, Direct Sales?
- What do you sell? Products or Services?
- Who are your target customers? Ages, locations, needs, demographics, income?
- What is the primary point of difference from your competitors?
- What general brand look and feel appeals to you? Modern, classic, rustic?
- How will you use the elements of your brand image? Business cards, website, social media, packaging, signage, trade show booth?
- What are your likes and dislikes? Colors, fonts, shapes?
End your brainstorm with a concise statement like this:
‘As a passionate, adventurous outfitter, my goal is to help everyone I meet enjoy the outdoors in a new way that will help them fall in love with nature.’
And a few words to describe your brand and visual style such as:
– Bold – Contrast – Movement – Surprising
When you communicate with graphic designers during your logo design contest, use the results of this brainstorm to craft a design that reflects your preferences and values perfectly.
Determine Your Unique Selling Position
Your Unique Selling Position (USP) is a feature or features of your product or service that distinguishes you from others of a similar nature and makes your brand more appealing.
Are you cheaper than your competition? Faster? Closer? More technical? Less technical? Hipper? More Laid-back? No matter what your answers to these questions, it is essential that you recognize and capitalize on these crucial differences in your marketing.
Here are some pretty interesting (and often humorous) examples of famous companies that made pretty big blunders when they failed to identify and properly utilize their Unique Selling Positions.
Analyze Your Competition and the Marketplace
Have the wisdom to learn from your competition who aren’t doing particularly well and the humility to borrow ideas from those who are killing it! While you’re at it, consider what makes your products or services more appealing than what they offer. Bring that information to the discussion with your graphic artist(s).
“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso (or was it someone else…)
Gather Visual Images
As a part of crafting your 99designs logo design brief, you will be asked to submit images that capture the look or feel of your brand. Spend some time collecting those images on a mood board or a platform like Pinterest. Here’ s how to use Pinterest to get your logo right.
Logo design briefs that lean heavily on visual cues tend to be much more effective at communicating the client’s intent than text-based briefs.
Determine Your Primary Usages
Consider how you are going to use your logo design.
- Are your final images going to be placed on business cards or billboards?
- Will you be using logos in web design or print media?
- Do you primarily communicate with email or letterhead?
- Do you need multiple versions of your logo for different uses?
- Simple vs. Complex
- Black & White vs. Full Color
- Horizontal vs. Vertical
- Will your logo be isolated or used in a congested space with other visuals?
Answer these questions as fully and accurately as possible and be ready to communicate them in your design brief and directly to your designer.
Educate Yourself about Logos (Logo Design 101)
But wait… isn’t that what I’m paying someone else for? Sure. But if you want to buy the best car or the finest wine, you need to know what you’re asking for. Learn enough so that you can ‘talk the talk’ and get the best results from your logo design project.
Types of Logos
- Lettermarks. Also known as monograms, these logos are created using some or all of the initials from the name of the company. Examples include RCA, IBM and a lot of sports logos.
- Wordmarks. Also known as logotypes, these logos use the entire company name. Examples include Google and Visa.
- Pictorial Marks. Also known as logo symbols, these are the most traditional, icon-based logos. Examples include Apple and Target.
- Abstract Logo Marks. In lieu of a symbol that has universally recognized the significance, some companies design a unique visual cue that develops its own identity. Examples include the BP starburst and the Pepsi logo.
- Mascots. These approachable logos often use cartoons of animals or other figures. Examples include KFC and MailChimp.
- Combination Marks. These logos are a combination of a symbol with text (typically the name of the brand). Once the mark is familiar, either of the two elements can be used in isolation. Examples include McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dominos.
- Emblems. Emblems are similar to combination marks but generally more integrated. Examples include Harley Davidson and Paramount Pictures.
Logo Design Styles
Design Styles are the logical next step after considering logotypes. This can best be described as the ‘right general aesthetic for your brand’. Here are some basic examples of style distinctions:
- Classic. Associated with being reliable and grounded, classic styles are generally simple and avoid wild or trendy choices for colors, fonts or graphics.
- Retro. Vintage is a very popular choice for design style. This genre combines the advantage of tried-and-true marketing with nostalgia to tug at the heart (or purse) strings.
- Modern. Characterized by being clean and minimalist, modern styles are often used for tech and some sorts of fashion. They communicate that the brand is up-to-date and informed.
- Quirky. Popular for both the very young and the increasingly old, these styles don’t take themselves too seriously. Often ‘fun’ design styles employ cartoon mascots or other whimsical elements.
- Handcrafted. Associated with individualism and handmade quality, these design styles are often a combination of some of the above, such as retro and quirky.
In both overt and subtle ways, color is a major influence on your design style. While a full study in color psychology would take a semester, some generalities can be laid out fairly quickly:
- Red. Red is a very loud color. It works well for power, passion, or to generally have your brand make a statement.
- Yellow. Associated with lightheartedness and youth, yellow is friendly, accessible and affordable.
- Green. Green is another approachable color that is very strongly associated with nature.
- Blue. Calming, complex and mature, blue signals conventional wisdom and classic style.
- Black & White. Black and white logos are very popular for minimalist design style. They convey class, luxury, and intentionally stark simplicity.
As you’re considering how color plays into your logo and overall design style, you should visualize your logo in both full color and black and white. Many real-life situations (from design criteria to cost concerns) may cause you to convert your logo into a monochromatic version. Have the foresight to pick one that looks good either way.
Font Tips for Logo Design
The final general topic for design consideration is the letters. Enter the wild and often discouraging world of font selection. This may be an area where you want to lean heavily on your designer. Even so, arming yourself with some general terminology will aid your discussions.
- Serif Fonts. Serifs are the little extensions (or ‘feet’) at the end of some letters. Serif fonts utilize serifs to give a vintage or classic impression – generally by imitating original typecasts.
- Sans Serif Fonts. ‘Sans’ is Latin for ‘without’. Sans serif fonts drop the serifs to give the lettering a clean, modern look.
- Script. Suggestive of handwriting, script fonts can range from elegant to down-to-earth or even juvenile. They make the logo appear more individualistic but can sometimes run into legibility issues.
- Display Fonts. Display fonts are the most highly stylized fonts. Used to make headlines and logos pop out, they are overwhelming when used for larger volumes of copy.
Armed with a description of your brand, understanding of your target market, knowledge of your competition, and collection of general visual references, you are ready to complete a thorough and accurate logo design brief. This, combined with a good general understanding of design concepts and lingo, will properly equip you to make the best use of your time (and money) during the logo design contest with 99designs.
Step by Step: How to Run a Logo Design Contest
It’s time for us to Start the Logo Design Contest at 99designs!
#1 Complete Design Brief
The first step in the logo design contest is to inform your designers of your company specifics and brand aspirations by completing the design brief. Use the preparatory advice earlier in this article to be prepared to draft the perfect design brief to pave the way to your new perfect logo.
Video #2: At this point, join me on a second over-the-shoulder video as I demonstrate How to Complete the Design Brief.
Which Designs Do you Like?
The first screen that the design brief brings you to will ask you to select existing logo designs that you like or that you feel define your brand in some way. Don’t think too much about it let intuition be your guide. Use this opportunity to let your gut decide on some icons and logos that appeal to you.
Your Brand’s Style
Next, you will move a series of sliders to define where you see your brand’s style on a variety of spectrums.
- Classic – Modern
- Mature – Youthful
- Feminine – Masculine
- Playful – Sophisticated
- Economical – Luxurious
- Geometric – Organic
- Abstract – Literal
Colors to Explore
Next, you will select up to three distinct color palettes you would like your designers to explore when creating your logo design. Not sure which colors are best for your brand? Check out this guide to selecting branding colors.
Design Brief Specifics
In the final portion of the design brief, you will detail many of the specifics that you laid out for yourself in the pre-contest exercises.
This includes your company name, slogan, industry, products, general information and a place to attach visuals which might help potential designers understand your brand.
#2 Select a Design Package
Once you have completed the design brief, it’s time to select the package you want to purchase from 99designs.
The first step in selecting the design package is to choose from four broad pricing levels. The price for each level is dependent on the services you want to purchase. Since I was only interested in having the designers craft a logo, I was presented with the following choices:
- Expect 30 designs
- Money-back guarantee
- Silver $499 (best for most new businesses)
- Expect 60 designs
- Money-back guarantee
- Larger designer prize (attracts more talented artists)
- Gold $899 (good for product brands needing many design concept ideas)
- Expect 90 designs
- Money-back guarantee
- Larger designer prize
- Mid and top-level designers only
- Platinum $1,299 (best for B2B and professionals; dentists, lawyers, accountants)
- Expect 60 premium designs
- Money-back guarantee
- Larger designer prize
- Top level designers only
- Prioritized support
- Dedicated manager
You can also select from other package options, some of which increase the total price of the package
- Guaranteed (Assures designers you complete contest and select a winner)
- More designers
- 50% more designs
- Private Contest $59 (A good option for privacy concerns)
- Keeps contest and designs out of search engine results and out of sight from your competitors prying eyes! Previously called a Blind Contest. More details
- Requires designers to sign a confidentiality agreement
- 7 Days Free (my recommendation)
- 3 Days: $39
- 2 Days: $59
- 24 Hours: $79
#3 Begin the Design Contest
Once you have made all of these design and package selections, 99designs directs you to enter your personal information and then a payment screen. After processing payment, your contest is live and professional designers all over the world can begin reviewing your brief and submitting designs!
#4 Find and Invite Quality Designers
Once your design contest is up and running, you can still use 99designs’ search functions to search for individual designers. In the site’ search engine, you can use a variety of filters or search by keyword if you already know something about the designer you’re looking for.
You can also add a designer to your favorites by clicking the heart symbol next to their name. You can then visit your own ‘favorites page‘ and invite all of the designers you’ve favorited to the contest at once. You can invite up to 50 designers per day.
This sort of enhancement to your designer pool will not increase the price of your contest – but will substantially increase both the quantity and quality of logo design ideas!
#5 Designers Submit Design Ideas
Fairly soon after the launch of your logo design contest, designers will begin submitting initial design ideas. Some may submit one design and others may submit multiples. The selections you made during the Design Brief and Package Selection portion of your contest will influence the quantity and quality of respondents.
#6 Initial Impressions & Feedback
Video #3: At this point, join me for a third over-the-shoulder video as I demonstrate how to Review Initial Design Submissions.
As soon as you receive design submissions, you can begin responding to them individually by giving initial impressions and feedback. This is a critical part of the process as it allows designers to further refine their approach and get closer to your ideal logo design.
It’s important to be considerate and professional when responding to design submissions. Design is subjective and designers take their work very personally. Always treat everyone you interact with on 99designs with respect.
#7 Review Revised Designs
Once you have amassed a number of quality logo submissions and given feedback, it’s time to evaluate your revised designs. This stage of the process is called the Qualifying Round and lasts for four days.
While the decision is ultimately yours, here are a few key attributes that you want to be able to identify in your logo:
If you were unfamiliar with the brand, could you easily tell what the logo represented? Will people immediately know what your business does? With logo design, there is a temptation to be clever, but sometimes simpler is better.
Will your customers be able to remember what your logo was and what it represented? Here again, simplicity is usually key.
Will it look good large & small? Full color and in B&W? Digitally and in print? Can you apply it to all your branding needs?
Will it be relevant in a few years or is it too closely tied to something topical. Designers and writers call ageless content ‘evergreen’. That’s what you’re looking for.
Does it set you apart from your competitors? Think back to your ‘Unique Selling Position’, and ask if your logo visually represents what will cause customers to come to your business rather than others.
Does it match your products or services? Does it appeal to your target audience?
99designs arms you with several key tools to whittle down the competition. You can rate the designs, which will help you sort them. You can also remove designs/designers from the process and place designs/designers into your list of finalists.
99designs gives you three days to work with the six finalists that you select for your Final Round. During this phase, the designers should be even more responsive to your feedback.
#8 Polling Collaboration
During either the Qualifying Round or the Final Round, you can use the 99designs Poll Tool to ask family, friends, and colleagues to weigh in with feedback. This was my favorite part of the logo design process and this tool was a great help!
The Poll Tool allows you to select up to eight designs for consideration in a single poll. However, you can do as many polls as you like during the design process.
Being the creator of the brand can be a double-edged sword when it comes to ideas for your own design. On one hand, you know the most about the brand and are deeply committed. On the other, you may be too close to the process for objectivity.
Remember, you’re not the one that the logo has to appeal too. Use the polling collaboration feature to get some critical feedback before you make the final decision.
#9 Select Your Perfect Logo
Video #4: Join me on our fourth and final over-the-shoulder video as I demonstrate how to Select the Logo That’s Right for Your Business.
Once the three days of the final round have expired, you can select your logo design contest winner! You don’t need to decide right away.
99designs gives you up to two weeks to select a winner or winners. This allows you to use the great polling feature (discussed above) and ponder your logo design options.
If you’re stuck between several fantastic logo designs, you can award more than one winner and purchase multiple designs.
#10 Download Files
As soon as you select and confirm your winner(s), you enter the Handover Stage. In the handover stage, you and your designer will have up to five days to discuss any last minute tweaks to the design before signing the Design Transfer Agreement, which passes the copyright for the designs over to you. You can save a copy of the design transfer agreement, but 99designs also preserves a record for you!
Once your designer signs over the copyright to the design, you are ready to receive the design files. You should download and verify each of them before releasing the designer’s payment.
#11 Use Your Logo to Build Your Brand
Now that you’ve used the 99designs logo design contest to refine and select your ideal company logo you’re ready to put that logo to work! Whether you use the logo online, on storefront signage or print business cards, brochures and flyers, it’s one of the biggest weapons in your arsenal for business growth.
It’s Time for YOU to Host a Logo Design Contest!
Thanks for hanging with me as I demonstrated the startlingly easy and effective logo design process from 99designs! If you consider how much positive influence and business momentum can come from an iconic brand design (check out the value of major brands – the Facebook logo is worth 15 Vatican cities!), it’s a no-brainer to put some effort and investment into crafting your own logo design.
Now that you know the ropes, Start Your Own Logo Design Contest with 99designs!
I’d love to answer any questions you have, hear feedback on my article, or benefit from tips you’ve picked up from your own experience branding a small business. Also, if you’ve used 99designs to generate a logo design using the logo design contest, I’d love to see it and share it with my followers. Please contact me at any time, ask questions and share your stories about small business and design!
If you’re eager for some additional resources, I’ve added a few appendices for quick reference:
Sample 99 Logos by Industry
Sink your teeth into these great Dental Logos.
Construction Logos that will help you build your brand.
Hungry for the perfect Restaurant Logo? These are tasty.
Physical Fitness Logos to buff up your branding.
These Religious Logos balance innovation with classical inspiration.
Want to put your brand on the market? Check out these Logos for Real Estate.
99designs vs Competitors
FAQ 99designs Logo Design Contests
Are the Logo Designs ‘Professional’?
Yes. They are all composed by professional designers. That being said, there are different levels of designers. The designers advance in level based on experience and number of design contests won. The lower-priced design packages put you in touch with good designers – but not the best. As you proceed up in pricing, you have access to graphic designers who are more experienced and who have received more extensive training.
How much do designers make?
They make a wide range of fees depending on what ‘level’ they are. Rates start around $170 for winning a bronze-level competition and range upward to $2,000 for platinum level designers.
Are design contests ethical?
This is a great question and one that is the subject of debate. In my opinion, design contests are ethical. In fact, I think they are downright democratic; allowing both budget-minded entrepreneurs to get quality design and allowing designers from around the world opportunities to sell their creative work.
A design contest is essentially a way for designers to bid on a project by demonstrating samples of their work – in this case, specific to your design needs, upping the odds of you purchasing their creations. It is no different than the ‘pitching’ of clients I did every day as a marketing consultant. I would spend lots of time and plenty of money preparing presentations to secure client contracts. Only a portion of presentations made resulted in signed deals.
Some designers consider, wrongly, this speculative or spec work. The industry experts at site No Spec.com, clarifies the meaning; spec work is work done without prior agreement on fees. All 99designs designers agree to the terms and payments before being allowed to submit designs. 99designs is very clear with designers what they can and cannot expect by participating in the community.
The fact that over 1 million designers have created accounts on 99designs is a testament that the PROs outweigh the CONs for both designers and clients.
Can I be sure that the work I receive is original?
If you ever have a concern about a designer or anyone in the 99designs community, you can submit a request or a complaint with the 99designs Help Center. One of the major advantages of working with 99designs is the support and protection of the company and its resources, including legal.
Can designers see each other’s work? Can anyone else see the designs in progress?
Yes. and Yes. However, there are two contest options that will change those answers.
If you run a Blind Contest, designers can only see their own entries. Blind contests are more complicated than normal contests, and you must have already run at least one contest on 99designs to host one. The exception to this rule is Website and App Mobile design contests. These contests go blind at launch. This is due to the time designers take to design the web pages and apps, and sensitive material contest holders want to be inputted on their website or app.
If during the design brief, you pay $59 for a Private Contest, the design contest will be extremely well protected. Designers must all sign a non-disclosure agreement and may not share the designs in their own portfolios. The designs are not indexed by search engines, and once the contest finishes, only the client and the designers who participated in the contest will see the results.
Can I get my money back if I don’t like my logo design?
99designs offers a money back guarantee within 60 days of payment with the following exceptions:
- Contests with a Guaranteed Prize. As part of the design brief, you can select whether or not to guarantee your contest. A guaranteed contest attracts a higher quality and quantity of design submissions because the chance of compensation is higher for designers. However, once you guarantee your contest, you are ineligible for a refund.
- Contests in the Final Round, since the contest is automatically guaranteed at this point.
- Contests where a Winner has been awarded.
Basically, until 99designs is locked into paying out a contest winner, they’ll refund all of your money.