Have a contest!
Since I had a new business name, I decided that I need a new logo too. I heard about Intuit Creative Solutions partnering with 99Designs where you can hold a logo design contest. It sounded interesting, so I decided to check into it. (http://intuit.99designs.com)
You can set the prize amount that you want to pay the winning designer. There are some fees involved so the base cost is about $200 ($150 to the winning designer). My contest cost just over $250 with $195 going to the winning designer.
You create a brief with details and information about your business, target market and what you’re looking for in the logo. You need to indicate how the logo will be used and exactly what you want delivered. You need files for Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator (EPS or API) so the logo can be re-sized and maintain the quality. I also asked for the logo in black & white and with a transparent background.
Most contests are for 7 days (but you can extend it) and you can get 100% refund if you don’t like any of the designs submitted. However, if you guarantee the contest then more designers are likely to enter and submit their designs for your consideration. After a few days, I guaranteed the contest because I felt confident that I would be able to select a logo for my business.
Here’s some of the things I learned during this process:
1. You really need an idea of what you want so you can let the designers know what you’re looking for in a logo.
2. You need to provide feedback on what you like and don’t like to guide the process. I sent comments to the designers and would ask them to make changes as needed.
3. You need to know what makes a good logo–which I researched during the process. A good logo is:
- Simple and uncluttered
- Works in a variety of formats (ie black & white, small for Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook or large for Webheaders)
- Represents your brand or image
- Colors and fonts matter and convey different messages
- Avoid clip art and stock images
4. The designers are great at following YOUR directions
5. I would have loved to have paid a professional graphics person to help advise me during the process.
When I first started my contest, I looked at some of the designers and their work and I invited a few to enter my contest since I liked their work. As the contest for my logo progressed, I was keeping up and providing feedback on what I liked and didn’t like and things seemed to be going ok for awhile. Since I’m not very creative myself, I was impressed with a lot of the designs and I soon found myself overwhelmed with choices and options to consider.
I decided to solicit the opinion of others on what they thought about the logos submitted. It was interesting to hear the feedback from others. I asked people I knew and respected for their opinion. Plus, I asked group members of various Linkedin groups and the AIPB listserv group. In addition to hearing from accounting professionals, I heard comments from architects, engineers, attorneys and many other small business owerns. THANKS to everyone who took the time to provide feedback to me!
Evidently some of the logos looked like a Crest ad, the AT&T logo, a cruise line or airline, or a variety of other things. I found that women liked some logos while men liked other ones. One logo was a horizon which appealed to some, while others saw it as a day care or learning center. Some didn’t like the logos that were long and horizontal. Some people thought some of the logos looked like I was running for a political office! Some people liked a minimalist approach while others were more artsy. There were a couple of designs that appealed to a lot of the people expressing their opinion–both men & women. It was great to have a ‘focus’ group and hear their opinions, but I realized I needed to chose which logo was right for my business.
Some of the best feedback I received was to consider how the logo would work in various formats–such as FaceBook, Twitter or Linkedin. What about in black & white when the logo is copied or faxed? How will it look as a web header? This was a good test and helped eliminate some of the designs.
Ultimately, I had about 30 designers submit over 400 variations of logos for my consideration. I realized that there were several that would be a good logo. But ultimately, the logo needed to represent my business and personal preference as well.
I finally decided on a logo which can represent helping clients achieve greater heights, increasing growth, a path to success, etc. Interestingly, some people see it as increasing swishes, others see a wave gaining momentum while others see a sail. For me, it seemed perfect since I love the lake and watching the sailing regattas on the weekend. Plus, I could think of many analagies to sailing and growing a business — charting a course, navigating the winds of change, etc. that I could incorporate into articles, speeches or whatever. This one was my personal favorite which made it the right one to represent my business.
Using Intuit Creative Solutions partnered with 99Designs to get a logo, business card, or help with a website is great for small businesses on a limited budget. However, I would still recommend consulting with a graphic artist to get their professional opinion, guidance and assistance. If your budget doesn’t allow this, then you should do your homework and research — I researched colors, fonts and characteristics of good logo. However, instead of spending my time doing that, I would have preferred to pay for a consultation with a graphic artist.