Two Ways to Get a Logo You Love

By Sharon Desjarlais , CC

Two Ways to Get a Logo You Love

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC

Back in the 1980s I was a freelance copywriter in Orlando, Florida. My husband then, a guy named Roy, would go on to teach CranioSacral Therapy around the world. But at the time he was an art director at a local ad agency and he had a knack for creating killer logos.

The one he dreamed up for my business was super simple, yet it made me feel like the success I would go on to become. Of course, you don't need a pretty logo to grow a thriving practice, but when you choose a visual identity that calls your spirit forth—you tend to rise to the occasion.

The artwork Roy created for my business would have run anyone else a good $3,000. For me it was free (marriage does have its privileges). Fortunately there are two ways you can get a logo for a fraction of the price (and without any of the holy matrimony).

Option 1:

This one is essentially a clip-art site. You get the artwork for as little as $30. Then you tailor it to your practice yourself. I've used them a couple times and I was always happy with the result. You can even pay a bit extra at checkout, and they'll customize the design with your name.

Otherwise you'll need access to someone who knows their way around Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. But if you don't want to marry someone (or even date them) just so they can customize your logo? Then I recommend going with Option 2.

Option 2:

This site is all about crowdsourcing; that means designers from around the world compete for your business, starting at $299. It costs more than Graphic River, but what you get is uniquely you. So, how do you run a successful logo contest? 99Designs does a pretty good job of walking you through the process. Yet after trial and error, I discovered 6 unusual tips that boost the odds of getting a logo you love.

Tip 1: Go for the Bronze

At $299, a Bronze contest is the least expensive. The cost goes up with the Silver and Gold. Sure, the higher the prize, the more designers you draw. But both of my Bronze contests brought in more than 100 submissions. Turns out I didn't need any more. So go for the Bronze. A lot of the designs may be off the mark, but you're sure to get some you can work with.

Tip 2: Invite Designers to Dive In

99Designs is set up to attract designers around the world for you. But you'll get a better outcome when you put in a bit more effort right at the start. So go to the site and take a look at a variety of designers' portfolios (save up to 30 you like). Then as soon as you start your contest, go back to that list and personally invite those designers to your contest. My last logo was designed by an artist I invited, and I'm delighted I did.

Tip 3: Run the Contest Blind

That simply means the designers won't be able to see each other's submissions (they still see their own entries). Plus they can see how you rate every design (see tip 5). They just can't see any artwork that's not theirs. The upside? They're less likely to play off someone else's idea, and more designers jump in when they know their idea can't get ripped off.

Tip 4: Guarantee the Prize — But Not Too Soon

A 7-day logo contest is divided into 2 parts:

  • The Qualifying Round, which lasts the first 4 days. At this point in the contest any designer can jump in.
  • The Final Round, which lasts the final 3 days. In this phase you narrow the field down to the top 6 designers you want to work with.

Once you're in the Final Round, that guarantees someone will get the $299 prize. In other words, there's no refund. But you can also choose to guarantee the prize earlier in the competition—that's my recommendation. Why? Because artists become more motivated. So you'll get more designs. That said, don't guarantee the contest (and promise to pay) until you get at least 1 design you like. Then you'll know you can't lose.

Tip 5: Rate the Logo Designs Conservatively

As artists provide logos, you can rate each one from 1 to 5 stars. This lets them know when they're on track with something you like. But don't award any logo more than 3 stars ... even if you love it. While designers in a blind contest can't see other submissions, they all see the star ratings. And if they think you're already in love with a design—they're less likely to create a new one for you.

Tip 6: Gather Feedback ... Then Don't Listen to It

When you're narrowing down your favorite designs, show them to other people like your partner, your mentor or your friends. 99Designs even lets you create a poll to get their feedback. But when you do, take their advice with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, there are only two people you want to please with your logo. Your potential client and you ... and of those two, the most important person is you. Keep in mind no one is ever going to look at your logo as much as you do. And every time you see it—you want to fall in love with it (and with your practice) all over again.