My Amazing Experience with 99 Designs

For the past several months I have been planning to upgrade my online presence – especially right here at JeffKorhan.com.  

Full Big Logo on White

My commitment to helping small businesses make the most of their online marketing has been and still continues to be my 100% committed focus. 

Nevertheless, for the five years that I have been dedicated to this craft, I've learned quite a few things that when put into place will enable me to more effectively help more entrepreneurs and small businesses like you. 

More on that later this month.

Working With 99 Designs

One of my first steps in this process was to create a new logo that reflected my purpose and vision. John Hawkins at 9Seeds.com (no relationship to 99 Designs) recommended I swing on over to 99 Designs to get some expert help.  I did – and what I got in return was more than I could have imagined. 

The way things work at 99 Designs is pretty simple. You select the type of design work you are looking for, load up your desired specifications, pay the minimum fee (or more if you want to attract more designers), and then guide the process by actively responding to the conceptual designs your receive. 

Almost immediately I began receiving some nice quality designs, many of which would have worked out fine. However, what tipped the scales toward one designer in particular was a comment I made on the day before the seven day contest expired. 

Just as a coach asks his players to finish strong, so did I – by simply asking everyone to stop looking at the work that had already been created – and maybe even some of my comments as well, and draw on their unique capabilities.

I was really hoping someone would break out of the pack.  Sure enough, one did.

Understand Your Customer and Trust Your Expertise

Jefferson Pasqual, a young man from the Phillipines, was the only one that took my comments to heart. While I absolutely loved one of his early designs, he had the courage to explain that while he also loved that design, he intuitively knew from my last comment that it wasn't right for me. 

That's something we all need to do more of in our businesses.

My final comment emphasized that the new logo had to be simple – consistent with my endeavors of simplifying online marketing for small businesses who are already stretched thin, and who may be challenged with this technology.

I was also hoping for a human touch that communicated my belief that all marketing, and especially social media marketing, is first and foremost about people – building mutually beneficial relationships that serve the needs of everyone in a community. 

If you take a close look at the icon to the left of Jeff Korhan in the logo above, you may be able to discern my initials – JK are a creative abstraction of a man jumping for joy.

That's a human touch.  Brilliant!

Even if nobody else notices this – I do.  

This is an amazing example of what happens when you listen to your customers and apply your expertise to give them what they don't even know is possible.

If you would like to see more of Jefferson's work you can do so by viewing his portfolio of winning designs here at his profile on 99 Designs. BTW, there he uses his nickname Peper.

What made this experience amazing?  Small businesses put their heart and soul into their work.  When you can capture some of that magic in your marketing, it brings out that passion – for you and those you serve.

A big thank you to Jefferson and 99 Designs.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of my new logo.

If you have enjoyed this, please leave a comment and share with your community using your favorite share button below.  My favorite is Facebook Like.

Until tomorrow, Jeff

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Comments

  1. Hillary says:

    Jeff that is so cool Love it!

    • 99designs.com is a website that uses a frowned-upon process called “crowdsourcing,” where essentially hundreds of amateur designers poor hours of work into design after design with minimal (if any) payoff for their efforts. It would be like calling 20 law students asking them to build a case for you, then paying only one for the strategy you like, then possibly not winning the case because you didn’t go with a real lawyer in the first place. This is poor business practice, and it’s surprising that someone talking about business would go along with this. Sure you will get lots of choices, but what you are receiving is work from people who are generally dabbling in graphic design for fun, and who don’t have the experience to back up the design choices they make. What may look fine to you the client might look like amateur work to many others, which makes YOUR BUSINESS look bad. Do you want to know who wins with 99designs.com? 99designs.com wins by getting a cut of the money that goes through their site.

      You can generally work with an experienced graphic designer for around the cost of 99designs’ minimal fee. They can be found all over the internet, some right in your local area that you can meet in person or call on the phone. The designer would of course be chosen according to successful business testimonials and the quality of their overall portfolio. During the logo design process you would have a serious one-on-one conversation where the proper questions are asked and the proper market research is done. You would receive proofs and go over all possibilities before deciding upon the finished logo which will visually define you as a company. Both parties are treated with respect. Both parties win.

      “Just as a coach asks his players to finish strong, so did I – by simply asking everyone to stop looking at the work that had already been created – and maybe even some of my comments as well, and draw on their unique capabilities.” This paragraph sickens me. There shouldn’t even be an “everyone” because the creative flow is ruined when a designer is competing and changing designs based on what the others are doing, while simultaneously trying to not look like they’re copying an idea that’s been done that they could do better. An individual designer’s “unique capabilities” should be drawn upon from the start of the logo conceptualization to the end based on your design brief, not AFTER they’ve already completed lots of WORK and done what you said (yes, graphic design is WORK, otherwise you would’ve done it yourself). So back to the quote, you’re essentially saying to them “Yeah those other designs were neat, but now I want you to kind of forget about what I initially said, and do something different and better than those fifty designs I already received!” So you chose the design of the one guy who bent to your indecisiveness and did what you said. You don’t even care if the world knows that there is a JK in your logo because it’s all about you anyway. Perhaps to the more keen eye the “JK” actually looks more like a pair of butt cheeks, which is totally fitting for your blog, so perhaps the guy did a good job after all! He used his intuition to give you exactly the logo you deserve.

      • Jeff Korhan says:

        Chris – I didn’t read all of your rant but I get the gist. Design contests have been around for decades – including in the architecture and landscape architecture professions where I used to work.

        It’s very simple – if you aren’t interested in them you don’t have to participate. As a landscape architect I chose not to. As a professional speaker I participate in speaker showcase events where meeting planners get to see a sample of my work – and I pay for that privilege!

        Why? Because new working relationships come from those events if you can deliver.

        As a result of the logo design contest I now have a great logo AND a relationship with a young man who just did two new designs for me. See the 125 x 125 banner ads in my right sidebar for my upcoming summit and speaking.

        Life is full of choices. Everyone is free to choose. Jefferson and I now have a great working relationship.

        We are happy with our choices.

        You and others are free to frown on them if you choose.

        • It’s fine if you won’t finish reading my post because as long as one other person gets it then I have succeeded. My choice is to frown upon what this article stands for. Unfortunately graphic design is going the way of many other industries, overseas, thanks to sites like 99designs. I actually didn’t see the sidebar because the design didn’t exactly draw me in…

  2. The logo looks great. I have been on that site before, but I have not gone through that process. I was recently thinking of looking into having some work done by the designers there, so you have convinced me to go ahead and try.

  3. Thank Hillary – I’m very pleased with it. Although, I imagine you already figured that out. 🙂

  4. Frank – Just be specific with what you want – set the ground rules. And do it on a quiet week because it takes time to comment on all the designs. I had over 200 to work with!

    jeff

  5. I did notice your initials in the logo. That was the first thing that struck me. Very nicely done. Nice endorsement of 99designs. I’ll be using them.

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      Thanks for the feedback on the logo. Cool! You’ll be pleased with the 99designs process. Just make sure you schedule it during a light week so you can get your best results.

  6. Gordon Hickley says:

    Ever tried to deal with 99 Designs support after they lock a contest with no explanation? It seems there is no support. Phone number provided on the site is unmanned and emails go unresponded.

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      Gordon – Hmm … I evidently got lucky because there were a lot of things I couldn’t figure out but my designer walked me through them on Skype.

      Jeff

  7. rhiyah_yhang says:

    wow!… peper (jeff pascual), you really amazed me… i know how brilliant and clever your are! conitnue to widen up your excellent ideas and share it to everyone… i’m really proud of you.

  8. “Design contests have been around for decades – including in the architecture and landscape architecture professions where I used to work.”

    I guess – if your comparing a multi-million account to a… $200 logo – than sure.

  9. I had a great experience with 99Designs. I will say that the final logo that we chose was not 10/10, however we then handed the 99Designs deliverable over to a graphic/logo designer who took it from an 8/10 to a 10/10.

    I saw 99Designs as a great way to find a concept and then have that concept perfected.

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      Michael – That’s just about how things worked for me. I would say we were more like 90-95% of the way there.

      I appreciated him accommodating my desire to get it just right.

      Thanks for your comment.

  10. I like it

  11. Nathan Brook says:

    Make sure you describe your design brief as clearly and as detail as possible. Also, if you’re running a website design contest, make sure you provide some inspiration design as a guide.

    • Good points Nathan. This would have helped me help the designers to find the right direction more quickly with my project.

      I provided this inspiration at the mid-point and it proved to be the difference.

      Thanks for your comment.

  12. Like you, I didn’t get too far through Chris’s rant…perhaps a frustrated designer?

    Anyhow, what I LOVE about design contests is that you’re almost guaranteed to like something.

    No matter how talented or how much money you pay a particular designer, they’re only one designer and if they’re having a bad day or have a completely different vision, you’re left with nothing but a big hole in your pocket.

    I like your logo and how the character subtly forms the J & K….nice job.

    One question, have you ever tried getting a site designed (for the genesis framework) through a crowd sourcing site?

    • Hi Tony – Thanks for your comment. That’s an interesting thought, but I do not have a good answer for it. I know there are companies that will do light work for a reasonable fee, but not sure if that would include design.

      I would be really interested in knowing if there is such a resource. One suggestion is to go to the Copyblogger community (MyCopyblogger.com) and put it out there on the forums.

      Good luck!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Marketing Spezialist Jeff Korhan war sehr zufrieden mit den eingereichten Designs. Trotzdem hatte er das Gefühl, dass noch keines der Designs perfekt ist. Es hat sich herausgestellt, dass er auf einen Designer gewartet hat, der die bisherigen Anforderungen in Frage stellt und sein eigenes Verstehen von Ästhetik in dem Design hervorbringt: “Bereits von Beginn an habe ich sehr qualitativ hochwertige Designs erhalten, wovon viele wahrscheinlich auch gut funktioniert hätten. Was mich an einem Designer besonders gereizt hat, war seine Reaktion auf einen Kommentar, den ich am letzten Tag vor Wettbewerbsende hinterlassen hatte. Ähnlich wie ein Coach von seinen Spielern verlangt, ein starkes Ende abzuliefern, habe ich den Designern in meinem Wettbewerb eine ultimative Aufgabe gestellt. Ich wollte, dass die Designer von allen bisher eingereichten Designs wegsehen und sogar alle meine Kommentare und Vorgaben missachten, um allein ihre eigenen Fähigkeiten in dem Design zum Ausdruck zu bringen. Ich hatte wirklich sehr gehofft, dass sich ein Designer durch diese Aufgabe ganz besonders hervorheben wird, und so war es dann auch. Dies ist ein unglaubliches Beispiel, was passieren kann, wenn man dem Kunden zuhört und seine eigenen Fähigkeiten dazu nutzt, etwas Außergewöhnliches zu gestalten.” – Jeff Korhan […]

  2. […] J’espérais sincèrement que quelqu’un ressorte du lot, et bien sûr, cela s’est produit. Voilà un très bon exemple des résultats que l’on peut obtenir lorsque vous arrêtez d’écouter vos clients et que vous utilisez toute votre expertise pour créer ce à quoi ils n’avaient pas même songé. » — Jeff Korhan […]

  3. […] J’espérais sincèrement que quelqu’un ressorte du lot, et bien sûr, cela s’est produit. Voilà un très bon exemple des résultats que l’on peut obtenir lorsque vous arrêtez d’écouter vos clients et que vous utilisez toute votre expertise pour créer ce à quoi ils n’avaient pas même songé. » — Jeff Korhan […]

  4. […] I was really hoping someone would break out of the pack.  Sure enough, one did. This is an amazing example of what happens when you listen to your customers and apply your expertise to give them what they don’t even know is possible.” — Jeff Korhan […]

  5. […] Ich hatte wirklich sehr gehofft, dass sich ein Designer durch diese Aufgabe ganz besonders hervorheben wird, und so war es dann auch. Dies ist ein unglaubliches Beispiel, was passieren kann, wenn man dem Kunden zuhört und seine eigenen Fähigkeiten dazu nutzt, etwas Außergewöhnliches zu gestalten.” – Jeff Korhan […]