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We Used 99designs For Logos: Here’s Our Review

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What is it like to use 99designs? We’re going to go through the process of creating a design contest from start to finish to show you what the entire experience is like, so you can decide for yourself if 99designs is for you. For this 99designs review, we’re going to follow all instructions given and document each step of our journey for you to see below.

For this test project, we’re going to submit a contest for Owner’s Mag logo to see if 99designs can interpret a better logo for us. The chances of me getting this approved and having the CEO change the logo is practically 0, but this will be a fun project that everyone in our office can contribute feedback to. It couldn’t hurt, right?

1. Creating our design project

We went ahead and searched “Logo” and went through the process of creating the logo project. When selecting the business category, surprisingly there’s nothing related to digital publication, news, or publisher there. We went ahead and chose “Internet” as our category.

2. Choosing a name

Now it’s time to name our project. We’re going to call this one “Owner’s Mag Logo Design”. Not sure if I’ll ever get the approval to change the logo, but it’ll be a fun project that everyone at the office can give input on.

3. Types of logo

Logos come in all different shapes, themes, and types. They can be just a word logo, icons, abstract, or something unique with a mascot. Here’s where you can tell the 99designers what type of logo you want.

4. Choosing a style

I like this section a lot. Sometimes it’s difficult to actually describe what you want. Here, you can browse through a long list of logo designs that cover a wide spectrum of styling. Select the ones that best fit your taste and it’ll give the 99designers a better idea of what you want.

I went ahead and chose a few text-focused logo, since Owner’s Mag is a text-only logo. The selected examples in the screenshot above aren’t the ones I chose.

5. Brand Style Meter

I’ll be honest, this section is a bit weird for me. On this page, 99design asked me to explain the style I want using different sliding scales. There’s more than the 3 listed in the image above. I personally had a hard time deciding if Owner’s mag logo should be “Classic” or “Modern”, “Mature” or “Youthful”. Femine vs Masculine I can work with. But the other categories aren’t intuitive for me.

6. Choosing Colors

Now it’s time to pick our color preferences. I stuck with “Reds”.

7. Writing project brief

Filling out the project brief didn’t take too long. The questions were straight forward and all makes sense. It is odd that the project brief itself is this far down the process.

8. Choose your package

So far, we haven’t paid 99designs anything. Now it’s time for us to pick a tier for our plan. Although the Logo starts at $299, that’s actually for the Bronze tier. The higher tier you go, the more submissions and higher quality the work will be. Or at least that’s what 99designs promise.

For this, we chose the Silver $499 plan. We’ll be expecting about 60 designs to be submitted with this package.

9. Add-ons

In addition to the $499 we’re paying for the Silver tier, 99designs will upsell us for a few things. Some of these I think makes sense, others I felt should be included in the price I’m paying.

Personal Creative Consultant ($129) actually looks like customer support to me. I’m not a designer. Of course, I will need some help through this process. I felt like this should’ve already been included in the price instead of being a $129 add-on.

Guaranteed doesn’t cost anything. But it will null your money-back guarantee. This ensures the designer WILL get paid if they make it to the final round. Because of 99designs’ pay structure, this makes your project much more appealing to designers and more will likely submit drafts if you opt out of their guarantee.

Private ($59), this came as a shocker. I didn’t know this would even be public. Why my project is even open to the public in the first place is beyond me. This doesn’t feel right. Paying $59 just so 99designs keep my designs private seems like a scare tactic for me to cough up more money. Not a fan.

Duration lets you pay a bit more for faster delivery. For this, I feel the prices are fair and it’s typical to pay more for expedited work anyway. You can pay $39 for 3 day instead of 4 day delivery, $59 for 2 days, and $79 for 1 day.

9. Complete! Now we wait…

I opted to not purchase any add-ons for this review. Once paid, we’re redirected to 99designs’ dashboard where we can see the estimated timeline for the project. From today, it’ll take about 4 days for all of the designs to be submitted. Each day some designers will submit their work and on the final day, the round will be closed and we have 4 days to pick finalists.

The Designs Are In!

First off, I was very disappointed that we only received 17 designs instead of the promised 60. I contacted 99designs support about the issue and they claim that they don’t guarantee “60”, even though their pricing tiers clearly listed “Expect ~60 designs”.

Maybe the 17 designs we received are good? I’ll let you be the judge of that before we give our verdict.

Here are the 17 designs that 99designers submitted to us after 4 days.

What does our office think?

We passed the designs around our office to get some initial thoughts. Most thought the designs were random and not aligned with any of the directions given. Some look templated. Others look like they just slap a random icon in front of the text and call it a logo.

Overall, none of us were impressed by the results thus far. We eventually picked #6 to give feedback just to move the process along, not because we love the design. We felt let down that only 17 versions were submitted since 99designs promised we’d get around 60 designs to choose from.

We submitted our revisions and now wait for our designer to spin something back to us.

4 days later…

We received new versions of logo #6 within about 3-4 days. Personally I wasn’t happy with the new versions, but I shared the new designs with the office. You can probably guess how we all felt about the new drafts. Results…were disappointing and not what we had suggested. At this point, we didn’t feel compelled to give any further instructions or move the project to the final round.

We’re not happy

We decided not to continue the project given we’re not happy with any of the drafts so far. Even revisions were still so far off what we would even accept. I understand graphic design is subjective, and that sometimes you just have a difficult client. I assure you, we’re not that difficult and was looking for a very simple logo.

It was hard for us to justify even moving to the final round given the designers barely followed our directions. We specifically asked them to design the logo using our RED, and some of them ignored it completely. We asked them to NOT use any icons and just keep it text-based, yet there were logos with random icons.

Getting a Refund

Our experience could be a unique case and your experience could be much more pleasant. We eventually asked for a refund and was met with another obstacle. You can’t get a refund on the website, they request a call to speak to you to “verify” your identity before releasing your refund.

This is an annoying step clearly put in place just to discourage refunds. I oblige and got on a call with a representative. The rep was understanding and didn’t try too hard to sell me, which I appreciated. Our refund was promptly processed afterward.

Final Verdict

Our experience with 99designs has been mixed. I like how intuitive the website is and how easy it was to get your logo project started. The biggest let down were the number of submissions we received (17 instead of the promised 60) and the quality of each design. You can judge for yourself. Looking at the logos submitted, I didn’t feel like we got even intermediate level designers. These just felt rushed, patched together, and overall unpolished work.

Giving revision was difficult because most of the designs were so far off base. I didn’t know where to start, except tell the designer to re-read my project brief and start over.

Overall, it wasn’t the best experience for us. We would’ve gladly paid an agency or a freelancer the same amount and get more dedicated care and attention to produce 2-3 good logos instead of 17 poorly design random logos.

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TikTok Is Toast: Get the Secret Weapon Brands are Using to Power Through

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Just when you thought the drama surrounding TikTok couldn’t get any juicier, the US government drops a bombshell. Just days ago, President Biden signed a bill that could ban TikTok across the entire country. 

TikTok has been asked to find a “new, non-Chinese owner” within the next 9 months according to CNN. The company is within its rights to comply (which will be tough) or file a lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is already leaning toward the latter, announcing it’s ready for a legal battle.

With over 170 million Americans entrenched in the app, the prospect of its sudden disappearance sparks more questions than answers. What does a “ban” actually entail? For one, it doesn’t mean you’ll face legal action as an individual who still uses TikTok. And it doesn’t mean the app will magically vanish if you already have it downloaded.

Instead, the ban threatens to remove TikTok from Apple and Google’s app stores, which means no more updates, security patches, or bug fixes. This could pose a security risk to TikTok’s loyal user base.

But fear not, social media enthusiasts, because while the chaos unfolds, brands and influencers can use this time to get clear on their strategy. While the rest of the digital world is losing its mind, you can set your brand up to thrive like never before.

Enter Penji: Your Secret Weapon for Social Media Domination

It’s hard to stay relevant and have an effective social media strategy when things are so volatile in the digital world. But that’s only really true if you’re working alone.  

Particularly for marketing, design, branding, and social media agencies, getting help from professionals is crucial. You likely need copywriters, marketers, designers, and coders as the bare minimum.

So who’s Penji.. and who cares? 

You could say Penji is an ‘all-in-one chaos solution’ for brands with lots to do and little time to do it. They’re a design team that creates the visual assets that power numerous brands year-round. Penji can create custom:

  • Ad designs
  • Organic social posts
  • Custom illustrations
  • Logos & branding
  • Blog graphics
  • Infographics
  • Email templates
  • Landing pages
  • Web & app designs
  • And more

If you can name it, Penji can probably design it. Brands are getting crazy results. For example: 

RevenueZen saw a 25% increase in customer engagement and a 20% boost in sales after partnering with Penji for their new website.

Rush Order Tees upped their productivity by 2200% with the help of just 5 Penji designers who mastered their brand visuals.

How does it work?

Penji is an unlimited graphic design service, which means they don’t put limits on how many designs you can get each month. You pay a flat monthly fee and request any designs, anytime. There’s no contract, so you can cancel or pause anytime too. 

Step 1: Create a Project: Go to Penji’s dashboard and select “Create a Project.” Choose a category (eg. logo) and provide all the details your designer needs to knock it out of the park.

Step 2: Get Matched Right Away: Once you’ve submitted your design brief, you’ll be matched with a pro designer via our AI matching system. From here, just sit back and relax.

Step 3: Review & Give Feedback: Within 24 to 48 hours, you’ll receive the first draft of your design. Provide point-and-click feedback directly on a project, and the designer will make revisions until you’re completely satisfied. There’s no limit to revisions, and you can swap designers if you don’t like the direction.

Step 4: Mark as Complete and Download: Once you’re happy with a project, simply mark it as complete. You can then download the files directly from the Penji platform, no need for external links or emails. Your files are securely stored in the cloud, ensuring easy access whenever you need them.

Not only can you communicate directly with your designers, but also creative assistants, project managers, or art directors depending on which plan you choose.

Never Hire an Unreliable Designer Again

For brands dealing with vetting and hiring headaches, Penji offers a hassle-free alternative. By eliminating the need for constant hiring/firing and payroll management, brands can bypass the headaches associated with maintaining a freelance (or in-house) team. Instead, you can tap into Penji’s pool of vetted creative talent, handpicked to meet the demands of even the pickiest clients.

Retain More Customers with a Bulletproof Brand Identity


Customer retention is another area where Penji helps businesses shine. By providing on-brand, consistent quality across every project, you’ll build trust and loyalty with your clients. With a dedicated team of creatives, project coordinators, and quality control experts, Penji ensures you put your best foot forward at every touchpoint. That means your customers won’t hesitate to pick you over a competitor – the design does the convincing.

The bottom line? With costs roughly 70% lower than hiring in-house designers, Penji offers a cost-effective solution without skimping on quality or speed. You’ll boost your production rates drastically for a fraction of what you’re used to spending. 

So don’t let the TikTok ban scare you away from focusing on social media growth. Partner with a design team that just gets you – and your social media strategy will start running like clockwork.

Ready to Win at Social Media?

If your interest is peaked and you’re ready to power your social media channels with more ease than ever, watch a quick demo to see how you can get all the designs you need in one place.

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Fiverr vs Penji vs Canva: Who’s Your Winner?

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Graphic design is essential in business branding. And you don’t want to skimp out on design, especially when you have big-time competitors in your niche or industry. Fortunately, graphic design is so much more accessible for business owners because you can hire graphic designers, do your own graphic design work, or subscribe to a graphic design service. The top choices for these models are Fiverr, Canva, or Penji. The question is, which is the best option?

Companies Overview

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these companies or services, let’s give you a brief introduction to each one.

Fiverr

fiverr logo

Fiverr is a freelance gig platform for hiring remote workers, like web developers, podcast editors, video editors, and so much more. Graphic designers are also available to hire on Fiverr. Many graphic designers specialize in various design work.

Penji

penji logo

Penji is a subscription-based graphic design service. You can subscribe to the graphic design service and request unlimited design projects. With Penji, you can request up to 120+ design types, including web and app designs, presentation designs, motion designs, and illustrations.

Canva

canva logo

Canva is a do-it-yourself graphic design application that will help you design anything related to your business or brand. You don’t need graphic design experience to use Canva. They offer templates to help you get started with designs. Plus, you can edit those designs based on your branding.

Features

Fiverr

fiverr graphic design page

Fiverr provides businesses with two ways to find freelancers. First, you can find freelancers using the search bar. You can type “graphic designer” and find available designers to collaborate with. You can narrow your search by finding designers based on your design needs. For instance, you can browse “logo designers” instead of graphic designers.

As you select graphic designers, you can see that designers offer various plans depending on your design project. Plus, they indicate the following:

  • Number of designs they can create
  • Number of revisions
  • Turnaround time

Plus, you can also find reviews from previous clients to know their working experience with one of your top choices.

The other way to find freelancers is the Fiverr Enterprise platform. Fiverr specialists will help you find the best graphic designers, creatives, and other employees for your team. Plus, the platform includes onboarding, management, payment, and compliance.

Canva

canva homepage

Meanwhile, Canva is a software loaded with many intuitive features to help you design your projects. Features depend on the plan you choose. However, here are the basics:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Access to 1 million templates, 3 million photos and videos, and thousands of design types
  • AI-generated designs
  • Printing and delivery

However, if you need more than that, you can access the following on the paid plans:

  • Resize and translate designs
  • Brand kits
  • Remove backgrounds
  • Plan and schedule content
  • 1TB of cloud storage
  • 24/7 customer support

Penji

penji webpage

Finally, Penji has many features to get you started, from designing your first request to downloading and chatting with your designers.

Here’s what to expect when subscribed to Penji:

  • Request 120+ designs
  • Get matched with the best designer for your project
  • Swap designers
  • Manage multiple projects
  • Point and click revisions
  • Team collaboration
  • Designer chat
  • Real-time updates

Turnaround Time

Turnaround time for Fiverr freelancers depends on the graphic designer. They will indicate how long the delivery date would be. Most graphic designers would have at least a 1-day turnaround time.

Meanwhile, if you are using Canva, turnaround time is usually instant. After all, you’re designing your project. However, if you have a complex project or need to create multiple designs in one go, it could take hours or days, depending on your availability, to design your projects.

Finally, Penji guarantees a 1 to 2-day turnaround time on most designs. If you’re subscribed to the Agency plan, they ensure same-day turnaround. However, some complex projects will take more than two days to complete.

Pricing

fiverr profile
example of a fiverr profile with pricing page

Fiverr pricing depends on what designs you need. But as the name suggests, Fiverr refers to the $5 starting point that freelancers can charge clients with when working with them. However, $5 worth of projects can be low-quality.

Meanwhile, Canva has three pricing tiers, depending on your needs and budget.

  • Canva – Free
  • Canva Pro – $12.99/mo
  • Canva for Teams – $14.99/mo (for five users)

Finally, Penji has a flat monthly rate for all design work. Here are the pricing plans for this design service.

Design Work and Production

Design work by Fiverr freelancers varies from experience level to design specialties. Many Fiverr freelancers produce decent work for clients, considering the rates they charge. However, not all design work from Fiverr is 100% the best. Plus, considering Fiverr is the best for short-term work, expect one or few design variations for a project.

For Canva, we can use templates as the point of comparison for design work. Thousands of creators submit their templates to the graphic design software. Many templates look the same because it is the trend or looks modern. Regardless, Canva templates look decent to use as the base design for your brand. However, you need to modify it to your brand to avoid using similar templates from competitors or other brands.

Finally, Penji produces amazing designs for clients. Penji ensures that the cream of the crop joins the company to create designs their clients love. That said, they have various designers with different styles to ensure that your design specifications are met. Plus, Penji produces designs faster than Fiverr and its other competitors without sacrificing quality.

Competitor Analysis

graphic designer

One fair comparison to make is between Fiverr and Penji since both deal with actual designers and their work. Here are a couple of comparison points for these two services to help you narrow your options further.

  • Design variations – Fiverr freelancers can create a few variations. Meanwhile, Penji designers can produce multiple variations since you can switch between designers.
  • Work volume – Fiverr designers can produce a limited number of designs, depending on plan inclusions. Ideally, they’re a good option for one-off projects. However, Penji can produce more than 10+ designs, especially if you have a monthly volume of designs.
  • Comfort – Penji allows you to sit back and run your company since Penji can be considered an extension of your team. Meanwhile, you need to browse and interview freelancers on Fiverr. Plus, you have to worry about payment and management.

But if we were to put Canva back into the equation, Canva has the upper hand in pricing. Plus, if you’re creative enough, you can produce great brand designs without the help of designers.

Final Thoughts

Graphic design work can be done and delivered in three ways: doing it yourself, hiring a freelancer, or subscribing to a graphic design service. In this three-way showdown among various design services, each has its strengths and weaknesses. The three services have different models, which could benefit users or subscribers in getting their designs. Eventually, it’s up to you which is the best design service option that will help you get the best designs for your brand. 

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Graphics Zoo Review: Is this unlimited graphic design service worth it?

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Due to the increased demand for affordable graphic design, various unlimited graphic design services has been popping up online. The graphic design industry expanded, offering more options to clients.

We can say that the scene is more competitive now than ever. However, let’s focus on Graphics Zoo for this article. We weigh in on if their services can keep up with the fierce competition in the “unlimited” section of the industry. 

What is Graphics Zoo?

Graphics Zoo is an unlimited graphic design service that allows users to request designs on a monthly subscription. All clients have to do is create a submission with full specifications of their design requirements.

It’s also best to attach references to help designers take the creative path towards the client’s preferences. The great thing about an online graphic design service is its flat monthly rate, with no added fees for revisions. 

Graphics Zoo Business Model

Unlimited graphic design is a type of business model which allows clients to submit numerous requests per account. After presenting the design preference, expect a 24-hour turnaround or more before you can receive your output. If you receive a design output that’s far from expectations, you can point out the changes you want to make for the revision. Graphics Zoo has a flat monthly rate with no contracts involved. It means you can cancel your subscription anytime without having any legal worries. 

You might also like: Design Pickle VS Penji Review

Graphics Zoo’s Market

The design service is excellent for startups, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. As long as the business needs a continuous supply of custom graphic design, Graphics Zoo is worth a shot. Here are a few examples of companies that worked with Graphics Zoo: 

  • Enicode
  • Bread of Life Inc.
  • Western Rockies Federal Credit Union
  • Perfect Imprints
  • Green Guard

According to their website, Graphics Zoo has more than 750 satisfied customers with at least 50,000 approved projects. It’s also highly rated by their customers, earning whopping 4.9-star reviews. 

Pros and Cons of Graphics Zoo

Graphics Zoo Pros 

  • PROOF management system

Graphics Zoo offers a robust system that provides a collaborative space for designers and clients. It streamlines the whole submission and revision process. Using the tool, the clients can click on any submitted designs to pinpoint areas that need revision. It also allows users to leave a comment to provide more instructions to the designer. 

  • Graphics Zoo offers a stellar project management system that allows efficient communication between both parties. 
  • Brand profile features add accuracy and efficiency per design project. It quickly provides the design’s purpose to designers. 
  • Graphics Zoo offers a comprehensive design selection across various graphic design categories. 
  • The ability to share one account among multiple users is helpful for most businesses.
  • Excellent customer support and design project management system
  • A team of versatile designers that can provide designs for any business types

Graphics Zoo Cons

  • It’s possible to encounter ill-paired designers that are not fit for other project requirements. It might consume time because of countless revisions. 
  • You can only have one ongoing project per day. So if you’re a business with a high design output demand, you should opt for a plan with more designers. 
  • Graphics Zoo’s system only allows you to chat with the designers. If you’re more inclined to video calls, it might be a problem for you. 

Graphics Zoo’s Pricing Plan

Graphics Zoo offers three monthly plans with robust features: 

Business Plan

  • $349 per month
  • All basic features
  • One dedicated designer
  • Additional $349 for additional designer
  • Five brand profiles
  • Three users
  • 14-day guarantee 

Business Unlimited Plan

  • $449 per month
  • Everything included in the business plan
  • Unlimited brand profiles
  • Unlimited users
  • White-label platforms
  • Customized web design service
  • 14-day guarantee 

Agency Plan

  • $849 per month
  • Everything included in previous plans
  • Two dedicated designer
  • 30-day guarantee 
  • When starting a project with GraphicsZoo, making the most of their streamlined and user-friendly platform is crucial. Here are some key strategies for a successful collaboration:
  • Use Slack for direct communication with your designer. This allows for instant feedback and praise, ensuring clear and efficient revisions or approvals.
  • Prioritize clear and detailed communication. Never assume your designer has implicit understanding of your needs. Be explicit in your project briefs, and don’t hesitate to share comprehensive information about your brand and objectives.
  • Remember, effective communication is as vital with your design team as it is in any other part of your business. The clarity and detail of your interactions can significantly influence whether the final design meets your expectations or falls short.
  • By following these guidelines, you can foster a more productive and satisfying partnership with GraphicsZoo, leading to designs that perfectly embody your vision.

Tips for GraphicsZoo Users

When starting a project with GraphicsZoo, making the most of their streamlined and user-friendly platform is crucial. Here are some key strategies for a successful collaboration:

  • Use Slack for direct communication with your designer. This allows for instant feedback, ensuring clear and efficient revisions.
  • Prioritize clear and detailed communication. Never assume your designer has implicit understanding of your needs. Be explicit in your project briefs, and don’t hesitate to share comprehensive information about your brand and objectives.


Other Unlimited Graphic Design Companies

If you’re looking for more options with a similar business model as Graphics Zoo, we did the work for you. Here is our full list of unlimited graphic design services.

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