How to get the most out of a 99 designs logo contest

99 designs logo

Your brand and logo is a very important component of your corporate identity and positioning.  Doing it right often means paying tens of thousands of dollars to a big city creative agency.  But, if you are on a shoestring budget and trying to get something up fast, then a 99 designs logo design campaign can make sense and cents.  But, if you want great results, you need to know how to conduct a 99 designs contest.  These would be my recommendations and cautions:

  1. Managing a design contest takes a lot of time
    1. Plan to check in on your design contest every hour or two.  
    2. Be sure to budget 15-20, if not more, to provide feedback to promising designers
    3. If your days are normally busy, plan the design contest over a weekend (Friday-Monday)
  2. Give your designers solid feedback and direction
    1. Designers are starving for feedback, they cannot read your mind
    2. Tell them exactly what you like or do not like about their designs
    3. Give them recommendations for improvement
    4. Ask for options if they are going in the right direction
    5. Eliminate designs and designers who have zero potential
    6. Focus on the designers that seem promising and responsive
  3. Promote your design contest
    1. Pay for the highest contest plan you can afford
    2. Pay the extra money to boost the ranking of it within 99 designs
    3. Pay the extra money for 99 designs to tweet the contest
    4. Tweet the contest on your own Twitter account
    5. Blog about your logo design contest

Finally, once you have a solid round of great designs – probably on the last day of the contest – put together a poll and ask for other opinions before you make a final decision and award the winner.  Keep in mind that a lot of designers will come in at the last minute, so be prepared for a surge of designs in the last couple hours – particularly if you hold an open contest.  If you hold a blind contest, then other designers are not able to see, copy, and improve on the leading designs.

Blind contest versus open contest.  This is worth repeating and discussing.  A blind contest means that the competing designers cannot see the designs submitted by other designers.  And, they cannot see the feedback you are giving to leading designers.  The means that everybody’s design is unique.  But, it also means that the collective group of designers cannot see your comments so you do not get a collective wave and cannot leverage collective wisdom or crowdsourcing in the real sense of the term.  Some designers prefer blind contests because nobody can steal their designs, stand on their shoulders, or usurp their talent and energy at the last minute.  I have tried it both way.  If you do a blind contest, you end up repeating yourself a lot.  But, you can always cut and paste comments if you are getting the same things over and over.  Right now, I’m conducting a blind contest and I think I prefer it this way.