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Crippled CEO Blog #085: How to Logo Like a Genius

Crippled CEO Blog #085:

Way back in Crippled CEO Blog #08, I said that your name and logo don’t matter. And with the exception of possibly a lifestyle brand, where the logo and brand aesthetic are the actual product being offered, I continue to stand by that.

What I did say, though, is that even though the content of the logo does not matter, the one thing that actually IS important is that it is done well. The concept is unimportant. It just needs to be executed professionally so as to convey that you are a legitimate company that knows what it is doing. 

In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through exactly how to get that done. This is exactly how I created the current logos for Life Saver Pool Fence, Child Safety Store, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and a gang of others. 

The key to this process is 99designs. 

99designs lets you host a contest that designers around the world will participate in. You determine how much the prize will be (more on that in a bit), and they get to work sending you dozens and dozens of ideas that you get to comment on, refine, and see improved. 

It’s great. 

For roughly the cost of a professional designer, or maybe even less, depending on who you use, you get an army of design brains working for you. The problem with hiring just one designer is that they are only going to send you a few ideas, and they are only going to be able to revise those ideas so many times. And often, even if they are talented, a sometimes particular designer just can’t give you that thing that you’re looking for. Logos are like faces. It’s hard to describe which ones you’ll like. You just know a pretty one when you see it. 

Not only do you get a ton of different ideas, because there are so many people working on it,  but the speed at which they iterate and evolve is crazy. I’m currently using 99designs to help the brilliant and callipygous Talynz Lockwood* (more about her at the end) create the logo for her new brand, and in less than two days, she has just over 100 designs submitted — and they’re starting to look really good. 

So, step 1 is to go to 99designs and create an account and what not. 

Find and click all of the things that lead to you creating a new logo contest.

Now, this moves at a rapid pace, so only start this contest at a time when you know are you going to be able to check it, review submissions, rate them, and occasionally provide feedback several times a day, every day, for about a week. If you work Monday through Friday, consider starting it on a Sunday, so that you can start checking the submissions on Monday.

When you start the contest, you are going to be asked for some information on what you want. You are going to pick some examples of the kind of thing you’re looking for, and there’s also a bunch of sliders. Do your best on this, but don’t stress too heavily. The direction and feedback you give during the contest will be a lot more important.

Do keep in mind, though, that the designers are trying really hard to please you, and they listen very well. If you say that you like the color green, all of the logos are going to be very green.

Probably the most important part of this is the section where you type a description of what you’re looking for. Try your best to give as much information as you can. If you have a specific idea, give it to them. Don’t just keep it to yourself and see if somebody comes up with it. They won’t. Also, keep the language clear and simple. Most of the designers do not speak English as their first language. Avoid euphemisms or expressions. Use language that will probably work in a Google translate.

During this process, there are a couple important options I recommend selecting. For one, guarantee the contest. I promise that you are going to get a logo that you’re happy with. More designers will throw their hat in the ring if they know that somebody is definitely going to win. Since you’re going to pay anyways, you might as well say that you will.

Also, DO NOT make the contest blind. One of the best parts about this is that the designers get to see each other’s designs and your feedback. They copy off of each other. You want this. This environment creates this sort of hive mind effect where they all learn what you want and improve together, feeding off of each other’s ideas.

You’re also going to select a prize amount here. If you can afford it, the gold package for $899 is still less than many pro designers, and you’re going to get a ton of excellent work. If that is too steep for you, you’ll still be just fine for any of the packages over $300. 

Once the contest gets going, you’re going to start receiving submissions. The first batch are going to be bad. This is an important thing to realize, because it’s easy to get discouraged. There is a steep hockey stick type curve to the quality. Rate all of the ones you dislike with 1 star. Give the ones you like better two or three stars and comment on those letting them know what you liked. If you’re seeing a trend or everybody is in the totally wrong direction, go to messages and send a message to everyone with more instructions and feedback.

Some of the logo designs are going to be over a background of some kind, either to show what it will look like out in the wild or just to make it stand out. Try to ignore those backgrounds. The background isn’t part of the logo.

Pretty soon, you will start to see a few designs that are closer to what you want. Rate those higher. Give feedback. The other designers will use that information to improve as well. This process will create a positive feedback loop and the designs will start getting really good really fast. 

After a few days, you’ll have to pick your six favorite designers. Chances are, there are a few different categories of designs. I try to pick the best one from each style, and then have them refine. 

After you pick your six finalists, you will continue to give critiques and get new designs. At this point, start asking to see the design in both full color and single color. You want both and you’ll be asking for both from the winner. 

Eventually, the time will run out, and you will have to make your selection. 99designs lets you make a poll that you can post on social media or send to your friends. I found this to be really helpful. 

Once you pick your winner, you’ll still be able to fine-tune and tweak the design a little bit before giving your final approval. Make sure that you receive the logo in all of the image formats — JPG, PDF, PNG, PSD, EPS, and AI — in high resolution in both full color and single color (black and white). If your logo includes an image that can be either beside or above your logo, have the designer send it to you both ways.

Once you have everything you need, click the confirmation on the website and release your money. Congratulations! You have a new logo. And it is professionally done and well executed, the only aspect of it that really matters. 

Now get back to work doing something that actually improves your business.

Talynz Lockwood creates custom, one of a kind, high end nail art using state of the art techniques and cutting edge technology. If you want nails that are better and different than everyone else, that will get you compliments and start conversations, she is your person. She also teaches fitness classes including barre Pilates and a widely acclaimed twerk class — a fun way to add callipygian to your list of attributes. You can contact her about any and all of those things here:

(You know who also lets dozens of people work on her at the same time? Your mom. I’m just happy to be one of them. Your mom also loves getting a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog. You can get this as well by sending a message to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message.)

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Become a CRIP – Creature Realizing Infinite Potential!

Join the fam and make sure you never miss a post. Send a text with the word CRIP to 484848. I'll send you the link each week to the newest blog as soon as it's released.

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