Can You Trust 99designs to Create Your Business Logo?

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UPDATED: 29 July 2023 | PUBLISHED: 13 October 2022

Desktop scene with laptop open to 99designs, papers with the Photogeek logo and icon, ceramic vases and cane chair
ABOVE: I decided to give 99designs a crack...and was as happy with the process as I am with the final Photogeek logo and icon designs.

Can you trust 99designs with your business logo design?

Short answer: yes.

I would.

I did for Photogeek and after having done so, would confidently recommend it.

Why Use 99designs for Your Logo Design?

  • It's 'affordable' - certainly relative to hiring a bespoke graphic designer or company
  • It's streamlined - there's a step-by-step hand-holding process in place; it's understandable and efficient
  • You get choices - there's a range of options / designers to work with and choose from
  • You get results - it's effective. Need a good logo in all the typical formats fast? 99designs does that ✅

And when a company / product / service provider actually does what it says it will, frankly it's a relief.

And it's worth sharing about.

99 designs custom logo competition design details re: what you get
ABOVE: What you get when choosing 99designs for your custom logo design. (SOURCE: 99designs.)
99designs logo design three main steps
ABOVE: Getting a custom logo design on 99designs is as easy as one, two, three. (SOURCE: 99designs)

Top of Mind

There are a number of design projects you can take to 99designs (i.e. website, brand kits, social media packs etc.) but on this occasion, I 'just' wanted a logo.

I can't recall where I'd first heard of 99designs years ago, but I do remember Lewis Howes on the School of Greatness podcast regularly talking about and advertising the service.

And I've continued to hear it mentioned in various places since.

Props to the 99designs marketing team - you successfully weaseled the brand into my sub-conscious 😂.

So it was the first thing that came to mind when I decided I wanted a logo - and ideally, both inexpensively and fast.

I'd already come up with the concept ✅.

It was simple and so - like all the best minimalist logo designs - it needed to be done well.

What I needed was a professional - or in this case a bunch of them - to design and refine my primitive concept 'sketches.'

Rough Photogeek design concepts for illustrative purposes
ABOVE: My design concepts - strictly for illustrational purposes 😊. I submitted these as part of the setup for the logo design contest on 99designs so designers could stylise and refine my idea.

Setting Up a Logo Design Contest on 99designs

I hit up the 99designs website and followed the prompts to go down the logo-only route...and was on my way in minutes.

If you want some help working on the details of your brief, 99designs have a handy infographic on setting up an effective design brief that's worth running your eyes over.

Submitting design request info is fast and easy.

It's a step-by-step 'wizard' 99designs walks you through. You literally follow the prompts, take it one step at a time and successfully avoid any potential overwhelm in the process.

99Designs custom logo competition set-up steps
ABOVE: A couple of the logo contest setup steps in 99designs. In addition, you get to choose existing logos from other brands you enjoy and nominate colours you'd like used. LEFT: Use sliders to indicate the overall look and feel you're after. RIGHT: Give essential background information to designers working on your project. (SOURCE: 99designs.)
99 designs design options to add onto logo design
ABOVE: Think you might want more than a logo once you get going? 99designs gives you opportunity to add additional assets to your design contest at a discounted rate. (Prices as at late 2022.)

How Much is a Custom Logo Design Contest with 99designs?

There are four design package options to choose from and (as at late 2022) they range from $1799 down to $399.

I won't lie: I did have that whiny-small-business-owner-wince-of-the-sphincter moment when I first saw the price.

I think the ‘99’ in ’99designs’ lead me inadvertently astray: I thought it might cost me $99 as a starting point…but, I stopped being a complete tight wad and committed to the process.

And you can imagine my utter delight when - after initially calculating the currency conversion of the (what I foolishly presumed was) USD $399 cost to a 'whopping' AUD ~$600 – the actual invoice appeared in Aussie dollars for $438.90 (the extra $39.90 for GST).

Sweeeeet 🙌🏼.

I just saved some $150+ and got a professionally designed logo in all the required formats (jpeg, eps, png, pdf, AI) for under $450.

Google had served me the localised search result when I punched in "99designs." I wrongly assumed I'd gone straight to the US site.


99Designs custom logo competition design package tier options
ABOVE: The available logo design packages from 99designs in Australian dollars (AUD) as at late 2022. I went with Bronze Package...and received more than 250 designs for consideration. (SOURCE: 99designs.)

Receiving Design Submissions from your 99designs Logo Contest

In under two hours after submitting my "modern minimalist word + icon combo" custom logo design contest, the designs started to drip in.


It was like Christmas morning 🎄.

Designs for all!

It was so exciting (keep in mind the 'geek' in 'Photogeek' was not a mistake). I got hooked on the dopamine hit of receiving ANOTHER 'You have a new design' (or iteration from the same designer) email.

I was grinning like a Cheshire every time new designs rolled in. How fun 👏🏼🤓!

Some designers took my brief and delivered something just like it. Some made their own innovative tweaks or designs entirely. And some were waaaay off the mark not what I was after.

But I appreciated all the options regardless. It helped solidify what I did and didn't want.

A Deluge of Designs

I'd specifically chosen 99designs because I wanted a lot of logo variations to choose from.

I opted to have my contest run for seven days. You can pay additional fees if you'd like an express 3-day, 2-day or 24-hour turnaround.

The email notices during that time came on pretty thick and fast – essentially all of which you can do without if you’re stalking and refreshing your 99designs page as frantically as me a little kid poking their parent(s) on Christmas morning.

But, if not, the notices are obviously quite helpful.

By the end of that week, I was drowning in a deluge of logo designs. It was a good problem to have and it certainly well exceeded my expectations.

24 different designs of the same Photogeek logo all by different designers from 99Designs
ABOVE: A small cross section of the Photogeek logos submitted by various designers through 99designs over the course of my week-long custom logo design competition. The brief was: minimalist and clean, professional but friendly and with an icon incorporated to separate out for use as a logomark.

Copycats - Make it 'Blind'

I didn't initially realise designers could see each other's submissions (and presumably the comments you can leave on them re: praise or adjustments etc.) and some started presenting remarkably similar work 🤔.

For me, it was the biggest negative of the whole 99designs experience. It felt off and pragmatically, I didn't want to be seeing the same designs repeated.

I flat out told said designers as much and support helped me turn my contest to 'blind' at that point, which meant no more copied designs henceforth 👍🏼.

TOP TIP: Approach support as soon as you submit your custom logo design contest and ask them to make it blind for you. This'll preserve the integrity of the competition i.e. designers can't see each others' submissions. Instead they'll rely only on your detailed brief and feedback (inc. star ratings) when designing and iterating.

"Blind contests tend to result in much more creative, unique entries. It's a great tactic to encourage more varied designs, and some designers prefer blind contests."

- Kathryn Claur, 99designs Client Support

Is 99designs Better Than Working With a Private Graphic Designer or Company?


Nothing's likely to beat the bespoke service and attention you'll receive working one-on-one with an experienced and trusted graphic designer or company.

I engaged Australian professional designers at Baker Creative to head up my photography business re-brand in 2019.

It was 'expensive' but a thorough, weeks-long deep dive and collaborative process.

It resulted in a beautiful and comprehensive brand identity: fonts, colours, supporting graphic elements, a logo + logomark, brand guidelines and a moodboard.

The whole shebang.

And at the time it cost just under $2000.

Well worth it.

But 99designs is a fraction of the cost and an excellent option between that and freely DIY-ing your best effort in Canva, Photoshop, Illustrator or the like 😮.

PHOTOGRAPHERS, lean in for this #truthbomb: some basic design sense and skill does not a professional graphic designer make! (In the exact same way our clients and customers having their own camera does not automatically make them an awesome photographer 😊.)

What About Canva for Logo Design?

Pleeeease keep in mind any and all logos created in Canva - using anything other than their fonts and/or basic line and shape elements from the free library - are not able to be trademarked.

In other words: use any Canva stock graphics or photos etc. and you do not have exclusive rights to your design.

Canva explains more about logo design on their platform. (And for non-Canva plain-speak thoughts on the matter, Kessa Thea explains it well.)

So no, 99designs isn't akin to the comprehensive bespoke service you'll get from an experienced 1:1 designer or design company, but it's certainly a good and affordable alternative ✅.

Can't Afford or Not Willing to Invest in a 99designs Logo Contest?

Fair enough.

No questions asked.

In that case, I have a few other options for you to consider:

  1. Ask around in Facebook business groups. Explain you've got a limited budget but want to work with someone on your logo. Perhaps someone generous or early in their career might offer to help, or another business owner recommend someone who can. Or maybe you could offer a trade in services
  2. Have a look on freelance work marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr. Sometimes when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Other times, you get lucky (and pay a little more), find a good match and it works well for both parties
  3. Head to Creative Market to find and purchase an inexpensive customisable logo template. Creative Market's also a great source of logo inspiration (and I've purchased a bunch of fonts, templates and design elements from there over the years too. Heaps of good stuff!) Sign up to their newsletter while you're at it as they regularly send out free assets you might hoard like me find useful
Creative Market logo template result pages screen grabs
ABOVE: If you're on a super tight budget and need a logo to get your business going, have a look at the customisable options on Creative Market. Worth signing up for their newsletter too as they send out free design assets weekly. (SOURCE: Creative Market.)
Creative Market banner

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