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In other news, 99designs gets a new logo, tells everyone how much money they’re making and hint at taking their design contest platform public.

It’s never been a secret that I’m no fan of design contests, particularly logo design contests, and remain of the opinion that in aggregate, they’re still a bad idea for small or medium business to get stuff done and for designers to hitch their wagons to. Not going to rehash the arguments again, save a few quibbles here and there, as this is just a puff piece about 99designs new logo and some stuff that hit the wires. It also gives me the opportunity to use our infamous Borg graphic again – maybe for the last time unless I change it to the new version, which I probably won’t.

Having done that already up top, let’s motor on to the new logo:new-99designs-logo-contest-finalLet’s compare it to the old:99designs-new-old-logoI’m not going to bag on the design because while it’s not overly inspiring or anything, it’s not offensive either. In the era of bland, flat logos, and while I may even like the older one a little better in some aspects, the new one fits the role. The iconized version is a bit weird, as it features letters that are crimped together – a bugaboo when trying to make assets consistent across media – but that’s a nitpick.
99-designs-new-logo-iconAccording to various press releases that are currently lighting up my Twitter feed, the winning logo – designed by Meisal Subkhan, a chap from Indonesia – was the result of a $5,000 internal contest that netted 99designs a sum total of 4,129 entries. For those with an accounting bent, that works out to about $1.20 a concept that 99designs paid. If I was going to bag on the contest thing again – which I’ve promised not to – I might point out that 556 designers entered the contest and (other than some prizes and stuff) all the rest got diddly.

But I won’t.
99designs-menuSome of the rejected designs were a little more interesting that the final, but they only found fame in the new error page graphic that features some of them. I might be tempted to point out that the little mascot guy is literally barfing up logos, a perfect visual metaphor for 99D, but I won’t do that either cause that’s not how I roll.
99-designs-new-logos-not-pickedWell, that’s about it on the new 99designs logo from me, but if you want a more thorough dissection of the entire thing, head over to Under Construction‘s Brand New for more.

The big business of design contests.

Seemingly timed to hit simultaneously as the new rebrand was announced, press releases starting showing up on business publications about the Australian-based company too, but from a more financial point of view. The nut in the releases is this info:

“Australian startup 99designs has released financial results for the first time, revealing the online marketplace platform had revenue of nearly $81 million ($US60 million) in the last year. The figures also show that the design marketplace has paid out $US142 million in total to its designers and holds 10,000 contests each month.”

“For the first time?” Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve gone a few rounds with these guys in the past, and one thing they were never shy about was telling us loser luddite designers how much bank they were making. On a fairly regular basis.

There’s this too:

“Despite the strong revenue, he (CEO Patrick Llewellyn) says the startup is still striving to reach profitability by the end of 2016.”

Dafuq? The guys at 99designs were never done telling us that they’ve “been profitable since day one.” One might wonder if this new claim of financial hardship is to avoid criticism from unpaid participants who might be a bit non-plussed seeing as how the platform recently lowered its prize earnings, started claiming exclusivity, got rid of its ready-made logo store and started getting fussy about who they let enter contests. Bragging about laughing all the way to the bank – at this juncture anyway – might not sit well at all.

Or, it could be a run up to the company going public. Because nothing screams out more for profitable investment than unpaid labor.

Update:

Apparently, the lads at 99designs are not happy with some of the snark (not from me though, I wuz good) that’s being heaped on their new brand mark. Nope, not happy at all. In fact, literally five minutes after I hit publish on this page, another round of propaganda hit my Twitter feed, this time about how 99designs would like everyone to critique their new logo – properly. No, I’m not kidding. It’s literally called:

A Helpful Guide To Critiquing Our New Logo.

Here’s the header to the oddly passive-aggressive infographic that reveals to us hoi polloi how utterly perfect the thing is:new-99designs-logo-critique-guideAs the full graphic is about 6000 pixels deep(!), not gonna post the full thing here, but you can read about it over at Creative Bloq. No real precedent to compare, but I imagine daring the internet to bag on a logo probably won’t work out so well.

They tend to find stuff like this.