Is your brand easily identifiable? Building a solid brand identity and a professional brand doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Sure, you want to make sure that you have a brand strategy before you start developing a brand logo. But if you want to build a strong brand or a brand for specific products, you need all the power of a branding agency without the costs.
In this article, I’m going to share my personal experience with my Bizapalooza rebrand project. My goal was to create a brand that fulfilled on my brand promise and yet was an integral part of the DIYMarketers brand.
I’ve run other simpler projects before, but this rebrand allowed me to build a brand with 99designs. This gave me the opportunity to work with professional graphic designers on a fraction of the budget.
I’m going to describe each step of the process and I’m also going to get into details (sneaky tips and hacks) that you won’t find anywhere else.
1. Browse the site
Take about 30 minutes to an hour to get familiar with the site. 99designs is so much more than logos! Also pay special attention to the sample designs they have listed. As you’re browsing, think about which designs you like and why and which you don’t like and why. (this will come in handy later)
2. Decide on what you want
What I’m going to tell you here is going to save you time, aggravation and a ton of money. First, write down exactly what you envision as a successful finished product. In my case, I wanted a new logo and brand. I wanted brand guidelines, branded social templates that I could customize in Canva and I wanted a few additional branded icons and elements to support the brand.
Before you can even open an account, 99designs guides you through some choices and if you’re thinking of your project as a bundle of things, you will be confused and make some bad choices. Initially, I was looking at the bundles. But none of those were exactly what I wanted.
I wasn’t sure what to do. So this is when I contacted my project manager, Patrick Stiles who happens to be a professional designer with some serious insider info.
First, do a basic logo contest, then, after you’ve selected the winning design, move on with a 1-to-1 project with that designer.
Here’s the reasoning behind this tip. Logo design contests are considered short, easy projects. When you launch a logo design project, you’re going to get to see the largest variety of designers because they can put together a logo pretty quickly. If you’re looking for creative designs, then you want the largest possible population to see your contest.
So that’s what I did.
I clicked on Logo Design. Instead of going straight to choosing a package, I went straight to fun and engaging interactive online “interview” that started with being asked to select logos I liked.
You’ll scroll through dozens of awesome logos – just select the ones that you like. You can select as many as ten. Then click on “Continue”
Once they have you “hooked”, they will ask for your email. If you don’t have an account, you can create one there and continue along with the brief.
3. Fill out the design brief
This is where 99designs really has it all together. They’ve distilled the intuitive and creative process that a designer goes through into an online form that is fun and easy to complete.
The brief is honestly a ton of fun to put together! They’ll ask you for color preferences.
They’ll ask you to do a little personality profile on the look and feel of your brand.
There are some “trick questions” in there as well. For example, there is a feature where they ask you to upload images of any logos you like or anything you think that the designer should know.
Here is where I learned another sneaky tip from Patrick, my project manager.
If you are doing a rebrand and you are looking for a completely different look and feel — DO NOT (I repeat) DO NOT upload your old logo! Sharing your old logo may seem logical, but it will work against you. Designers will look at everything you uploaded and use it for inspiration. So if you don’t want anything that looks like your old logo — don’t put it up there!
Finally, there is a section on the brief that you will be tempted to skip — BUT DON’T! It’s that standard question that everyone ignores “Is there anything else you think we should know?”
Here’s what you do — give them two very useful pieces of information; what look and feel you are going for and what elements you think you’d like to see. This information will literally drive the results you get, so consider it carefully.
It doesn’t have to take longer to complete this brief. With Patrick’s help, we were done in about 15 minutes or so.
4. Launch your contest
When it’s time to launch your contest, you will have a big decision to make. I’m here to help you because I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum.
99designs has pricing for every budget. I’d like to explain the choices a bit and give you my reasoning behind each one.
Bronze $299: This is a great choice if you’re doing a logo for a new product or service or a simple refresh of your existing brand. It’s quick, it’s dirty. You’ll get 30 designs (often you’ll get more than that because designers will post different versions of initial logos). There is no support here, so I’d say it’s for the experienced marketer.
Silver $499: The big difference here is that you’ll get more designs and since the prize is bigger, designers may put forth some extra effort.
Gold $799: The gold package gives you the mid level and top designers. And depending on how important this brand project is to you — the investment will be worth it.
Platinum $1299: This is the ONLY package that offers the dedicated project manager and prioritized support. It’s also only got the “top designers”.
I got the Platinum package. Full disclosure here. Normally, this would not be something I would have chosen if 99designs hadn’t offered it to me. I saw myself as knowledgeable enough about branding and working with designers. But, I WAS WRONG! I will honestly tell you that the human touch and support of having a personal project manager had taught me many insider things about designers and 99designs that I did not know. Yes, you will pay more upfront, but this is definitely a worthwhile option when a project is important. Also, what you learn from the experience will save you money on other projects. Because you’ll have those little tips and insights you would have never gotten without their help.
5. Watch the designs come in
Once you launch your contest, I’d recommend you not plan anything major for the next few days because you will be distracted and excited when you start seeing the most amazing looking logos come in to your contest.
You will think they are all amazing. You will want to choose one right away — but don’t rush into anything.
6. Rate and provide feedback
As the designs come in, rate each of them with the number of stars from 1-5. This will help the system prioritize them for you. As you’re rating the logos, take the time to offer feedback to the designer – tell them what you like, what you don’t like, what tweaks you’d like to see. I learned that the faster you provide feedback, the more engaged your designer will be and most likely, the better your designs.
7. Reject the designs you know you don’t want
If you know that a design isn’t what you want and the tweaks you’ve received from the designer still don’t meet your requirements, decline the design. Don’t let the designer wait and question. Be considerate enough to allow them to move on to other projects.
8. Select your finalists
At first, I didn’t notice that there was an option to select finalists. This is an important step. Once you choose finalists, your contest becomes guaranteed and you will have to choose a winner. If you do NOT choose finalists, your contest will be put on hold.
9. Provide some more feedback to your finalists
Providing feedback is a critical success factor. You will be tempted (I was) to just ignore the feedback option because there are so many wonderful designs from so many great designers. If you do this, you will be missing out on having exactly the logo you want. You’re paying for it – so take advantage of it.
10. Get feedback from your community by running a poll
One of my absolute favorite features from 99designs is the polling feature.
Just fill in a couple of fields and you can share the poll on your social media channels and via email as a link.
The polling feature is awesome because you can use the “wisdom of the crowd” to help you select your logo. Here’s a tip – when you share your poll be sure to ask your audience to tell you why they like a logo or why they don’t like a logo. This is important information because — the audience can like one logo and you might like another. If you see their comments, this will help me make a better decision.
11. Select your winning design
Finally! It’s time to select your winning design. At this stage of the game, you should feel pretty confident with your choice. The 99designs system is very rigorous about making sure that you’ve had ample opportunity to engage with all of the designers, get to know them and see the different options they’ve offered. So go for it!
Introducing the New and Improved Bizapalooza Winning Logo Design
Please give a warm welcome to the new Bizapalooza rebrand, which is now a happy member of the DIYMarketers brand family!
But Wait! There’s More!
The logo part is now complete. But I needed more than that. I needed social media templates for the #BizapaloozaChat. And that called for using 99designs newest focus; 1-to-1 Projects.
Of course, it makes sense that once you’ve picked a winning designer and a whole new design, you’re going to expand that work into more projects. And you want to do those projects with a single designer. That’s what 1-to-1 Projects are all about. The best part is that you have everything in one place.
This is where your engagement with your winning designer goes into high gear and where the 99designs interactive platform is priceless.
Instead of back and forth emails and clumsy file-sharing, we had a workspace where we followed a similar process with choosing a logo — only this time we were choosing template designs with one designer.
I requested that the designer create the images in Canva so that my team and I could easily edit them and customize them for our events.
This is what my new designs look like in Canva
A Summary of Lessons Learned, Recommendations and Rebranding Tips
Here is a quick round-up of lessons, recommendations and rebranding tips from someone who’s been there:
- Even if you THINK you know what you want – you probably don’t
- Take the time to get really, really clear about what a finished project looks like.
- Create an itemized list of deliverables that you want
- For the best value and bang for the buck, break your project down into logo first and then move to 1-to-1 Projects.
- Work on your marketing message and what the brand stands for.
- Save or collect a budget of at least $1500. This will assure that you won’t skimp or take short cuts. You want to have a sense of confidence and freedom in this process and not worry or stress.
- Collect examples of images, logos and designs you like and outline what you like about them.
- Decide on how you want to work – do you want to select from a broad range of freelancers or do you want to focus on designers.
- Be detailed in your design brief. Take the time to fill out all of the open-ended forms, designers use that information heavily.
- If you don’t want your new logo to look like the old one — don’t upload any old logos.
- Manage your design contest daily and give detailed feedback.
- Narrow down your choices daily
- Use the polling feature and get detailed feedback from your community. You can run more than one poll – so do it.
- Choose with confidence!
- Enjoy your new brand
I want to take this opportunity to thank 99designs for not only sponsoring this rebrand, but being so generous with their expertise and guidance in this process.
I’ve been a 99designs customer for many years and I recommend them often. But I have to say the biggest surprise out of this process is my having learned that there is so much more to know about the details of the branding process than I thought. I’m so glad I invested the extra time to choose the Platinum plan. My biggest lesson was – don’t skimp where it counts.