Pros and cons of services, like 99Designs, to develop one's logo for a start-up company? Fear of lawsuits vs. saving money.
I have a start-up company providing unique spice blends, primarily to personal chefs in the Boston area. I'm not in a position to sell in a retail chain store as yet. I may be able to get into small specialty shops. I'm putting pieces in place to actively work with my clients within the next two months. I need to get my blog going, and I need to have my logo done properly for business cards, web presence, and other materials to be added later..
Most of the designers on sites like 99Designs see your project as a means to pay their bill, they will not really place as much value in representing your company as well as you hope they will. This is a quick means to get cash for them, it is better to find a well recommended designer who will take on your project and design an amazing logo for your business.
Personally I am against it.
For a few reasons. When you buy at the dollar store do you expect it to last? Probably not. That is the basics of what you are getting at these cheap sites. Nothing can give you the quality or lasting that a "real" educated designer can. Look at their experience level. Do you want a high school student designing the look and feel of your business to everyone that sees it.
Secondly, You get what you pay for. Enough said there.
Finally, you never know where they got their design from… at least with a respected designer not someone hiding behind the net. You would have some recourse if they did copy it from any other branding exercise.
Your friends cousins brothers kid just graduated from high school here or there… Again… you get what you pay for.
Make a deal with a good designer, you'll find many independent good designers that would be happy to have an ongoing project. I would love to work your whole brand!
Your logo must be made by a experiented designer because: it's supposed to last many years; It should be done a research to find out if your logo is unique; Your logo must represent you, not what the designer thinks you are, not what you thing you are.
Those websites aren't good for your business, it may be a nice looking logo, but it won't last and you'll spend some more later.
My recommendation is that you work directly with a freelance designer or an agency as I lead kellenfol.com
A logo is time, modifications, brand study, brand activation, brand DNA and the brand attitude decline and then turn it into experiential marketing.
It is much more than a look and feel or a nice design, is the ambassador of your brand.
Jesus F. Gordillo
General Manager Kellenföl Advertising
There is a reason why they are cheap. I, personally, would hire a aspiring branding expert and you will end up with far better and thought out branding. As we all know branding is not just logo, it's the look and feel of your brand, color scheme, voice tone etc. and companies like 99designs don't provide any of that, they just give you a standalone logo. logo is not your brand :)
Punita, Logo's are more important than what some people think.
I's not only the design, It's the font, style, size (in comparison's) It's placement, color, borders around letters, words, design, shadow, meaning, feeling, tradition,
readability, projection, inference, Local meaning , International meaning, Recognition and recall. Every aspect of the logo must be considered,
Listed each color needs to be noted in terms of say color identification codes.
It needs to be designed and listed including dimensions in relation to each other. It should also be registered, and unique.
There is a lot more to it than just putting up some letters and shapes.
I have seen companies reject printing simply because the blue or red was the wrong shade. A bar was just a bit out of position, A letter was not positioned incorrectly (only slightly).
If you are serious about your logo, you have to be serious. Near enough is No were close to good enough.
Can you imagine your product on the shelf, and not one label looked the same, or each jar, had their label in a different position.
The same goes with logo's.
Price is a real consideration, but cheap can be nasty . Consider how long we intend to have the logo running, before you change it again.
Take the cost of the design and divide it by the number of years,
Now tell me if this is really that expensive.
Have you considered the brand names of each mix you make, so that the users can identify it as yours by company name and brand name.
Have you considered the family brand name for different mixes with the same core spice.
That way you can build a family brand tree. You may even want to have different brand labeling with your company logo, and a brand Id image.
Have a look at the different styles of coffee which are made by the same company.
I hope I have expanded this discussion
I trust this is helpful to you.
Do you go to walk-in clinics or to recommended physicians and hospitals?
Do you cut your own hair with a bowl and a mirror, or see a stylist or barber?
Do you trust your brand's integrity and equity to hundreds of strangers or to one person or agency with whom you build a relationship?
I'm a designer with a stake in this argument. If a logo is a logo is a logo to you, then your business is a business is a business to you, too.
99Design (and all this new "branding-shop"), has only one pro: cost. They are cheap. But for what? 300 logos. 289 obscene, 10 well-done, and maybe 1 with a concept, an idea. MAYBE.
Logo and brand image are too important to delegate to 99Design service. They must be STUDIED, with a professional designer. You must talk with this designer. With 99Design you deny your resonsability in "building" logo (or brand image). You have only to choose, at the end. It's a passive approach. Your business starts with a passive approach. Too easy and too wrong. Your money have VALUE, try to make a profit with QUALITY.
When designing logos you should think long term. A logo displayed on the web or printed on a label in multiple colors can be accomplished with extreme ease. If you decide to move forward with Promotional items or Logo Apparel your designer has to understand the limits of the technology used for decoration. The best advise is to work with a company that allows you to speak with a live person and provides the ability to brainstorm without the clock always ticking in the background.
First off, Christopher nailed it! But your question in itself leads me to feel that you already understand one of the chief risk of using these sites… lawsuits.
These sites are rife with "designers" outside of the U.S., who have no problem with stealing a design from a legitimate designer. Nothing against foreign designers, but many of them are in it purely for the money. After all, $200 U.S. is quite a lot of money in some of these remote places.
These thieves simply Google "spice blend logos" and voilá they have half a dozen designs to send to you. Since these logos have already proven successful and because you're none the wiser, you inadvertently chose one of those designs. Problems arise after you have printed stationery, labels, packaging and a shiny new website… you get a Cease and Desist letter from someone's attorney. Who do you think the attorney's are going to pursue for damages? Even worse, who are you going after to recoup your losses? If you read the fine print on most of these sites, they explicitly state that they are not responsible for anything you purchase. And good luck at finding the "designer" who created this mess.
Of course there are lots of other problems that have already been addressed, but do you really think saving a few hundred dollars is worth the risk? Go find a professional designer who will work with you to differentiate your brand from the competition, not rip them off.
I saw your post, and just read all the other comments, and all the advise you are getting is right on. The problem with a lot of mass freelance sites like 99 designers, is just as what was mentioned, most people on there do have an aesthetic knowledge of design, or branding so they will quote you a cheap price, and the end result will mostly be something that does not fully represent your brand. Not to say that there is a chance you may find a real quality designer, on there as well, but when you have access to a site like MosaicHub, where a lot of quality designer are here ready to help, you are already a head of the game.
So I would agree if you don't have to use 99Designs then stay, away, but if budget is an issue,then take your time, and really research the designers you are considering before you use them.
Hey Punita, great question!
Having worked in the creative sector for years I was dubious about 99 Designs myself. However, after using this service I am now a convert. There are a couple of specific rules to follow though:
1) Have a great brief
Not just a good brief, but a great one.
A builder once told me you can have three things in life - cheap, fast or good and you can never have all three at once.
If you want cheap and good, take your time to write a really great brief so the designers know what you want. Even give examples of logos you like and don;t like to give them some guidance.
2) Make lots of comments
Give the designers feedback so they know if they are on the right track or not. Don't be afraid to tell them you think they are not on brief.
3) Make it a closed contest.
Otherwise all the designers see each others submissions and you will go crazy with similar designs being submitted.
4) Test it
The best part of 99 Designs is that you can test the finalists logos with your target audience - after all it's not about you liking the logo, it's about your key audience connecting with your brand and getting the message instantly and clearly.
Hope this helps Punita, all the very best with your start-up!
Some interesting comments here. I will add another POV...
People who think they will get great, or even good designers to work on spec in hopes of "winning" $200, simply don't know how to evaluate design. I have not once heard a design professional agree - only laymen who don't know what they don't know. The "talent" is the bottom of the barrel. Dropouts and wannabes. A decent design education is quite expensive and students who graduate with a design BA will not consider those those terms.
Besides the design skill and due diligence a professional brings, they are EXTREMELY important in helping guide a client through the decision process. The most common mistake companies make is assuming they can evaluate the work on their own and know what a great logo is when they see it. That's seldom true. eg. The CEO of Nike hated the swoosh when he saw it. But I give him big credit for listening and trusting his designer, who was a design student at the time but was guided by first rate designers at her university.
Also, it very easy to underestimate how difficult it is to do a great logo. I personally do everything from designing print brochures to creating television commercials and digital media, and I can honestly say designing a great logo is still the hardest thing to do. Even after 20 years. To reduce a complex business to a simple, original icon requires not only a decent budget but enough time to do really do a thorough job of investigating the competition and explore possibilities.
One last thought... a logo is more important to service companies than product companies. Product design and packaging can help carry a brand imagem but service companies have nothing but their logo for people to visualize who they are. That's why banks will spend over a million dollars on a logo.
Hi There, Congratulations on your start up company. I love working with start-ups because I know how important branding is to the success of their company. While crowdsourcing your logo design might be a cost effective solution the quality is variable. Not to mention that you can miss out on the dialogue between you and a designer who can truly cater to your needs. During the contest, you can ask designers to tweak their submissions, but many choose not to. Plus, the winner you select might be unwilling to modify the logo once he or she receives the cash prize. I understand that hiring a good designer can be a big expense for a start-up company. I offer some in-expensive tips on my blog post to help get start-ups off the ground. You can see them at http://www.graphicdesignbyvictoria.com/#!How-To-Marketing-Tips-for-Start-Up-Businesses/cjy3/C2D4E73B-DEFE-48DB-9767-2023FBD0A538
Punita - before even going down the path of thinking of 99Designs or any brand creative firm have you actually completed the DNA of your company? Things like value proposition, target audience and market (Personas), business objectives and suppliers/partners? Because a brand should represent all of the above. Too many times I see entrepreneurs create a logo and then wrap the rest around it when in reality its the other way around companies like Coca Cola made it a success story. 100 years ago and today its the brand that got wrapped around a great soft drink to the American people which later became Santa, Olympics, China... Forget 99Designs and get your foundation right first. Then you hire the very best brand person in your field and pay the price, because my kids don't ask for toys from a dollar store. They want the real thing (brand)!
I agree entirely with Christopher and he's stated everything well. However, I need to respond to one comment stating that it doesn't matter if your logo is done by a professional with experience or a kid playing in Photoshop. It absolutely DOES matter.
You should be hiring someone to create a brand, which is much more than a pretty design. It's not just a logo. It needs someone with an eye for the big picture. Experience plays a large part because communication is huge. Most people haven't been through the process before, so it's the job of the designer to ask the right questions and read between the lines to figure out what it is you're looking for. I can assure you most students do not have this ability. And I cannot tell you the amount of times I have had to talk a client out of something (even as integral as the business name) that was not marketable. Part of our job is to prevent you from making mistakes you don't even realize are there, and this skill only comes with experience.
The key point here is you really need to hire an individual designer or agency that specializes in branding. Photoshop is not for logos. and web designers should not be hired to do print design. You want a vector logo and collateral that works well in print. Trust me when I say the average "designer" has not a clue on how to do this properly. Ad agencies will be higher priced, but there are lots of great professional freelance designers who specialize in branding, will be more reasonable, do great work and can build a relationship with you for future projects (very important). Ask for referrals, do your research, look at their portfolio and make sure you like their style. It shouldn't be 99 designs to choose from, but 99 designers. Make the choice carefully then invest the time to work with one professional you enjoy who truly understands your vision for your business.
Also, maybe we shouldn't say sites like 99 designs are unethical per se, but they most definitely water down the industry and create unrealistic expectations. Most professional designers who take pride in their work would not be caught dead participating in one of these sites (and many of us refuse to participate in spec work, period).
I happened to read a great short post on this subject this week: http://www.idapostle.com/logo-design-misconception-of-unlimited-choice/
I agree wholeheartedly with Chris and Paul. Your logo is the cornerstone of your brand. It will support ALL other activities you engage in to develop the image of your company. You MUST therefore start off on the right foot to make that positive first impression. A well designed and researched logo and signature, arrived at collaboratively with a professional designer will yield much more effective and long-lasting results.
The additional cost up front compared to any effort produced and delivered through crowd sourcing will more than pay for itself over the long run.
Hope this helps.
Your logo is the cornerstone of your brand. The inexpensive logo websites will not be thinking of your logo as a company brand, with all the various applications you will need. It is worth your time and money to have it done professionally especially if you are thinking of going to market with your product. A good designer will take into account what is already in the market, what is on the shelves, and what your brand's market position is relative to your competition. Crowd sourcing will not do that for you. you will get a bunch of pretty concepts that have no relationship to the world your brand is inhabiting. As a business owner it will also benefit you to build a relationship with a designer and use them for all your needs. This insures consistency and accountability and allows you to maintain your brand without having to inform each new person about your business and messaging. Just call your creative professional and s/he will know what to do or who to call to get it done.
I used 99designs and loved them. I would highly recommend them. I am not sure what legal fears you have? Crowd sourcing is excellent for this type of work.
Keep in mind that your logo and brand will likely evolve over time. Because your brand is young, using a service like 99Designs is not a huge mistake by any means. I have used 99Designs on a few occasions for several projects and have been very happy with the results. You don't simply describe what you want then receive a bunch of random designs. You describe specifics and give information about your vision for your brand. Once designs have been submitted you can narrow down to a few and ask those designers to alter their logos to fit your needs & wants. There is also the option to only have "Gold" designers work on your project. These are essentially the professionals. It's really no different than working with any other designer, you're justing doing it through a third party service.
That being said, think about many of the top brands out there (Google for example) who have changed their logo over time. What you start with doesn't have to be the only logo you ever have. Just remember that you can always alter it later when you have more money to spend on a "designer".
On the other hand, someone designing a logo for you shouldn't be charging any more than you would spend on 99Designs in my opinion. As for legal/copyright issues you won't have to worry with 99Designs, part of the agreement is that the designer forfeits all rights to the work and you own all the rights.