99 designs review

99 Designs Review: Our Experience with Using 99 Designs

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So as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we set out to get a logo from 99Designs.com – the crowdsourcing web design site. Basically, the way it works is that you say what kind of logo you are looking for and a bunch of designers submit logos (over the course of 7 days) for your approval. You then get the opportunity to pick your favorite as the winner.

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Additionally, if you don’t get a design that you love you can get 100% of your money refunded. Needless to say, there wasn’t really anything to lose trying it out – so we did. Here is my 99designs review.

Our Review of 99 Designs

The minimum amount you can offer for a design is $295. I decided I wanted to motivate the designers a little bit more, so I offered $30 extra at $325. To my surprise, 4 days later we still didn’t have a single entry.


Our first entry came in on day 5 and was pretty bad. And we didn’t really start getting many other entries until about day 6 and still most of them were pretty bad. To make matters worse, NONE of the designers were actually reading what I was telling them I wanted in the logo. I was very specific about a few things and I am not sure if they just didn’t care or didn’t read it – but either way, none of them were hitting the mark.

After the 7 days were up, we ended up getting 38 entries from about 20 designers yet it was still a very easy decision to ask for our money back. So I called 99 Designs and had to leave a voicemail since all the operators were busy and about 3-4 hours later I got a callback.

I have to say dealing with the customer service at 99 Design was great. They couldn’t have been more accommodating. The rep I was talking to said he could immediately refund my money if I wanted or he could open up the contest for another 5 days to try to get some additional entries to come in. He assured me that if I still wasn’t happy with any of the entries I could still get my money back. So I said lets go another 5 days.

He also suggested to go find active designers on 99D who were creating stuff that I liked and request that they submit something for my contest. It was a good suggestion as it did seem to get some better designers to submit.

After we ran the contest for another 5 days we got about another 30 or so entries, but still, 99% (no pun intended) didn’t seem to follow our instructions. There were a few decent ones, but none of them were really what we were going for. So I called back again and after leaving another voicemail, I got a callback and quickly got our money refunded.

Thoughts on the process

In theory, I love the idea of 99Designs, but looking back now I honestly feel a little guilty that all those people worked and none of them got paid a dime. Granted, they all knew that was the risk they were taking and some of them did VERY LITTLE work – but the process seems like a very inefficient one.

You can easily go to a site like Elance or Odesk and find designers who will create a logo for you for $300 (or a lot less) and I think that will be the direction I will go in the future.

The Better 99 Designs Service

On another note, 99Designs has another interesting product/service where they sell Logo Templates for $100. Basically, they are beautiful and well-designed logos that you just plug in your website or company name. So after purchasing you tell the designer what you want the logo to say, what color you want it, etc and they make the simple and quick customizations for you.

Some of them are really great logos. These are some examples of the logos that you can have customized:

 99 designs logo 1

99 designs logo-2

99 designs logo 3

99Designs Logo -4


While some of them have been used by others since it is a usage license, for the logos that have yet to be purchased they allow you to purchase an exclusive license for $300. So my thinking is that a service will not work for every business, but for most small business owners and bloggers using an option like this is great.

So depending on what you need it for, it may be something worth considering. I can’t imagine any other way you could get a logo that is as well-designed as many of these for less than $100. They have over 14,000 logos to choose from and you can browse more of them here if you are interested.

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Have you used 99 Designs or a crowd-sourcing site like this? What did you think?

13 thoughts on “99 Designs Review: Our Experience with Using 99 Designs”

  1. Hey Bob….know where they got those logo templates from? The losing designers who didn’t get a dime. Onde u submit a logo for any of their “contests”, it becomes their property to use as they wish. FYI the reason you didn’t get any good responses is b/c no designer worth their weight would even bother with 99, so you’re getting work from students and the desparate. I found your article b/c a client asked me about it….i plan on writing my government officials to make these sites illegal. This is legal theft, and 99 and it’s “brethren” are cheapening the design profession!

    1. Actually, you’re wrong about your designs becoming 99 property. You can withdraw it any time, and they can’t use your .jpg. You don’t submit a vector until you win. Nobody steals your design. Designers steal your ideas. In fact, I steal designers ideas too, because I just want to win and I don’t give a fuck. My name isn’t on there. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good designer. I just want to win money and will do whatever it takes. They do it to me too, that’s why I enter blind contests so nobody steals my idea and makes it better. Also, nobody calls me out on it.

  2. yea, as you can probably tell I wasn’t very impressed with what I got from the service. So in the case with 99 – you get what you pay for. But wouldn’t you agree that each of the designers who work for 99 are making the choice to spend their time designing for the contest? Perhaps they are trying to build their portfolio as they are starting out – or are students like you mentioned, but either way I don’t think it is much of a threat to the design profession. To me, what a high-quality designer offers and a 99 designs contest are night and day.

  3. This is a good review. I have to say, as a competitor, I only join the high paid guaranteed contests. Even then, I only join contests that require as little work as possible, and allows me to use past logos that didn’t make the cut. That’s why nobody followed your brief. Chances are, they were just sending you recycled logos. Hey, we’re not stupid. We’re not going to custom design a logo for you with the chance that you’ll not pay anyone and steal our ideas. The IDEA is what makes your logo awesome and memorable, not so much the design.

    If the contest holder provides me with feedback, and I think I can whip it up quickly, will I do anything custom. Anyways, a logo is not just the design. It’s the whole package with branding guidelines and very specific formats needed to be sent to vendors.

  4. What many of you are missing about 99 designs is their “hands off” approach to copyright infringement. It’s left up to the active design community to catch anyone plagiarizing work and for individuals like me who actually work in design professional (and have a degree) I have better things to do than not get paid to monitor what work is legit and what not. So as a result you get envious children “reporting” designs just so it stalls the contest or leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

    Why is this a problem? Because you may have a chance of suing the person who designed your logo if you are in turn sued by the person whose logo you stole, but not if that designer is under 18. And yes, 99 Designs does not turn down anyone under 18 years of age so purchaser of product beware. I already saw many postings where children would lie about or hide their age just because they knew the client would think twice about picking, so take from that what you will.

    I will say though that I tried to design for a few contests on this site and as a designer I feel really sad for the client who posts these contests. There is this mentality that logo and branding is all about the client when in truth its actually about what the client is trying to convey or sell. Meaning, many of these contest holders just want what they want because it’s pretty and if that’s the case go find a relative who likes to draw and have them make you something. A good designer is supposed to have a lengthy conversation about what product or service you are selling as well research copyrights, understand color theory and your customer base amongst a list of man other things in order to create a logo that A) you as a client can live with but more importantly B) does what it’s supposed to do which is make you money. In short I always compare all careers to what plastic surgeons do: yes, they understand what YOU want but at the end of the day if no one wants to look at their creation then they aren’t going to be in business for very long. So to all you potential clients out there who are eying 99 Designs, if you want a cheap set of tits that can’t even get you laid I will be more than happy to care less than you and pawn off something for 300 bucks (lucky for you I still have some ethics so stealing other work is not an option, but that doesn’t mean others won’t do it anonymously). Truth be told I have to ask why though? If all you want is someone to create what YOU want then why not get it for free from your son or aspiring artistic cousin?

    Because in the end and from personal experience, all I see winning in many of these contests are meaningless logos and designs that look like everything else out there which probably why these same businesses are out there and not being seen.

    1. you should watermark your uploads smart guy. I held a contest on 99designs and cancelled because every entry was below the level of proffessionality I can create myself, but don’t want to use because Its too unproffessional.

      Some of the designs were litteraly from youtube tutorials.

      Its not about how hard you work. Its about the quality of your product. In that sense this is more fair than paying a designer to make concepts you may not like without getting a refund.

      If you get up off your ass and make your own website instead of expecting others to employ you youre going to end up being a victim. This(not watermarking) is your own fault and your own problem.

  5. Dear Bob, to motivate designers a little bit more you offered an extra $30?? Do yourself a favour and read this: http://graphicpush.com/99designs-bullshit-20 The rest of the design community who are not willing to sell their souls for $200 and an extra $30 for hours of work that will most probably be beaten by a bad design can only hope that something like 99designs does not continue to exist. Unfortunately the public mindset will fuel sites like this and continue to develop skewed perceptions about the value of good design.

  6. No, Designers don’t work for $1000’s of dollars per hour. What we charge is based on skill, years of experience, and also the fact that it’s custom, one of a kind work to which you are getting all rights to.

    Furthermore, do you really think that a professional designer takes 10 minutes to design a logo? It takes hours and hours of work, as in 15, 20 hours or more sometimes between research, concepting, execution, revisions and finalizing a good, well though out design. The people who are doing 10 minute logos are the ones on 99designs and other sites like it. You get quick, slapped-together work, and plagiarized designs because participants know that there is pretty much zero chance that they are going to win. So what they do is cut corner, copy existing designs and put as little time and effort as possible into what they do. So, basically, by going to the crowdsourcing sites, people are paying a few bucks to let someone ruin you visual identity. Oh, and also for the privilege of possibly getting slapped with a massive copyright infringement lawsuit.

  7. I’m glad I found your review, I was just about to enter and start the design contest but was having second thoughts and searched for some reviews before committing. Thank you for your post.

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