Ready‑made Logo Store — Designer's Manual
The 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store is a great way for designers just like you to sell those unused designs you've got just lying about.
Maybe you've got a logo design in your folio you think would be great for a hairdressing salon. Maybe you designed a logo for the local rock radio station, only for them to change to country music at the last minute. Previously, there wasn't much opportunity for selling these designs. You could try your luck waiting for a matching contest to appear on 99designs, but that could take a lot of time and searching.
Now, with the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store, those customers can find you!
Who is this manual for?
This manual is for designers who:
- have a design they want to sell on the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store, either from a contest or another source, or
- want to create designs to sell in the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store.
So, let's get started!
Designing without a brief can be a liberating experience — there are no clients, briefs, or deadlines in your way.
Hopefully, the following tips can keep you on the right track and get you on your way to selling your designs in the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store.
Picking a Placeholder Company Name
If your logo includes a company name, show it off by including a placeholder company name. A good placeholder company name is:
- good looking in the context of your logo, and
- obviously a placeholder.
A placeholder logo shouldn't contain a trademark or the name of a company that actually exists — so creating a search engine logo with the placeholder "Google" isn't on.
Good placeholder names might be:
- Company Name
- Your Business Here
- Dog Wash Business
- Surfing Lessons
- Stylish Logo
- Corporate Design
Which tools should I use?
You should use the tools you're most comfortable with, but we recommend that logo designs are done in Adobe Illustrator.
Logos should always be produced as vector art. Many customers will want to scale their logos to the size of a truck, so a bitmap just isn't going to cut it.
Which fonts can I use?
We ask that you limit the fonts used in your designs to commonly available ones—i.e. the fonts which come pre-installed as part of Windows XP or Mac OS X—and those which are available in the Adobe Font Folio 11.
In most cases, it's illegal for you to share fonts with customers. You're free to use the fonts in your designs, but the distribution of these fonts can be a problem. Even freely available fonts carry licenses, many of which prohibit—or require payment for—commercial use.
For this reason, we ask that you don't include fonts in the files you upload to 99designs. Convert the fonts to outlines, save a copy of your design, then upload the design with the outline to 99designs.
Keep a copy of the design with the text in place — it will make customizing the design much easier!
Using Licensed Elements
If you don't know your clauses from your creative commons, deciphering exactly how you're able to use licensed elements can be daunting. But fear not! As long as you follow these tips, you'll be fine.
- Whenever supplying a third party with a design, always convert fonts to outlines. Distributing fonts is illegal in most cases. Check out Using Fonts for more information.
- Other licensed elements, such as clipart or stock photography, should not be used in logo designs. Using them in a logo is usually a violation of the element's license, and makes the logo very difficult to trademark.
Tips for Getting Started on a Ready-made Design
Often, getting started can be the hardest part of coming up with a ready-made design. If you’re having trouble, feel free to try the following tips.
Pick an Industry
An effective first step in creating a design is to choose an industry. This can be chosen by opening the phone book to any page, by choosing one from the list on 99designs, picking an industry that appeals to you, or choosing one which is popular.
Write a Brief
Sit down, take a deep breath, and imagine yourself as a small business owner who might come to 99designs for their design needs. Ask yourself: What is my business? What are my design needs? What are my likes and dislikes? Who are my customers?
Write the answers to these question down — this is the heart of your brief. Embellish this a little more if you like, but the answers to those questions are likely to give you a good starting point.
Oh, and remember to imagine yourself as a good customer. Writing a brief of “I’m a big dummy who wants a stupid logo” isn’t really the point of this exercise.
Establish a Persona
It can sometimes be useful to write a few paragraphs about your imaginary business owner — their age, marital status, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and so on — to hopefully establish what influences their preferences in design.
Broaden Your Design's Appeal
A logo featuring a monkey, a typewriter and the Bulgarian flag isn't likely to rack up many sales in the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store. I'm not sure how many literature-themed Monkey sanctuaries there are in Bulgaria, but there can't be many.
By removing the Bulgarian flag, your simian design's appeal is suddenly increased greatly — the logo now appeals not only to Bulgarian Monkey Parks, but also to Scottish Nature Publishers, American Evolutionists and Russian Typewriter Repairmen.
This might seem to contradict to the last point (okay, it does contradict the last point), but for a design to sell well, it needs to stand out from the crowd.
If a category is filled with a hundred different designs featuring robots with lasers for eyes, it doesn't matter how good the hundred and first is — it's not going stand out to sell that well. On the other hand, a design featuring a butterfly resting on unicorn's head has a much better chance of selling in that category.
Make Sure It's Customizable
Customers expect that their business name will be able to be inserted into your logo, so make sure that your logo can be customized to any name, from "Aaron's Aardvark Ambulance" or "Zoltan's Zebra Zoo".
If you're recycling a design created for another client, make sure you remove the contest holder's intellectual property before submitting it to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store.
Submitting a Design
Once you've designed a great logo, it's time to submit it to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store.
Just tell us about your design, enter a pitch, and submit it. We'll review the design, and if it passes our review process, it'll be for sale on the site within a few days.
Upload a Preview
The first step of submitting a design is to upload an image of the design. At this stage, we need a no-nonsense version of the design you're uploading with a plain white background.
CEDRIC (Color Extraction and Determination Robotic Intelligence Computer) will analyze this image to extract its color palette, so it's important you adhere to the following rules:
The background of this image must plain white. We've designed the site to show your designs on white backgrounds — colorful backgrounds and gradients make your designs look odd and out of place, and CEDRIC tends to choke on them.
The preview image should be a PNG or JPEG file.
The preview will displayed on the site 624 pixels wide and 351 pixels tall, which is a 16:9 aspect ratio. It's a good idea to upload an image of this size. If the image is larger than these dimensions, it will be scaled down to fit. If necessary, we'll add some whitespace around the image.
Please don't watermark your image. This will muck with our color extraction process, making CEDRIC unhappy and your design not making it onto the site.
Below where you upload a preview for your design, we ask you to give it a short, catchy title.
Once you've uploaded a preview, it's time to enter the details of the design. Keep in mind that the more your enter, the more likely your design is to be found, and the more likely it is to sell!
Keep in mind that you don't have to complete this form in one go — the “Save” and “Save & Close” buttons will save your progress so you can come back to this logo.
To give customers a good idea of how your design looks in different circumstances, you can supply up to three different preview versions of your image. The main preview image must be the logo on its own on a plain white background. The other previews can be alternate versions such as the logo in a promotional setting, or grayscale/inverted versions of the logo.
To generate a grayscale preview in Photoshop, open your full-color preview then select Desaturate from the Adjustments submenu, which is located inside the Image menu.
An inverted grayscale preview can be generated by selecting Invert from the same Adjustments submenu after following the previous steps.
You can upload these variations using the following section of the Submit Design screen.
The format requirements for these previews are the same as for the initial preview you uploaded — a PNG or JPEG image of 624 × 351 pixels.
Enter a Sales Pitch
The pitch, unlike the title, is where you can get specific about the design. It should describe the design in a way which really sells it to customers. Ideally it should be short, have good grammar and spelling, and be relevant to the customer. Check out our FAQs for more advice on how to write a good pitch.
Uploading Source Files
Your source files should be uploaded as plain, editable EPS files. There's a good chance we'll be sending this file off to the printers, so please don't include any style guide information — imagine paying for a design to appear on a t-shirt only to get it back with the pantone color codes underneath the logo!
To save an EPS file in Illustrator, just select Save As… from the File menu, then select Illustrator EPS from the Format drop-down list.
Please, no style guides in your images.
If your design is targeted to a specific industry — a logo based around a hammer, for example — select “Specific Industries”, then select up to three relevant industries. In the case of a hammer-based logo, these industries may be “Carpentry”, “Industrial”, and “Socialist Workers' Unions.”
If your design isn't targeted to a specific industry — say, a logo based on an abstract blue circle — don't select any industry.
Enter Extra Data
To help customers find your design, we recommend entering as much of this information as possible.
Select a Style
If your design fits into one of our pre-defined categories, select it here. If not, don't worry — just select “No particular style”.
If your design's style isn't in this list, enter it as a keyword. If we find that it's a popular style, we're pretty likely to add it the list.
Enter Some Keywords
Enter some words which a customer might use to find your design. If it features a swimming monkey, “water”, “swimming”, “monkey”, and “animal” would all make good keywords, as would “unusual.”
Feel free to go nuts with these keywords, but there's a limit of 10 per design.
Keywords are separated by spaces or commas. If you want to use a keyword which is actually two words, separate the words with a hyphen.
Enter the name of the font you've used in your design, then click “Add.” This will add the font to the list below. Feel free to add as many fonts as you've used in the design.
To remove a font, click the “X” just after it's name.
Enter the Placeholder Company Name Used in the Logo
If you've used a placeholder company name in the logo, like “Fitness Company,” enter than here. If there is no business name in the logo, leave it blank.
Please replace any real business names that might be in the logo with a made-up placeholder company name.
Select an Age Bracket and a Gender
If this logo was designed to appeal to a particular age group or gender, select them here.
The Review Process
Once your design has been submitted, it goes to our panel of graphic design experts to determine if it's up to scratch. You should hear back from us within a couple of days.
By following the guidelines in this manual, you're giving your design the best shot at getting through. You'll find out whether we've accepted the design within four days of submitting it.
Please don't contact customer support to find out if your design has been approved.
When you log in to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store, you'll be presented with the dashboard — a page which summarises your recent activity in the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store. It lists:
- Statistics indicating how often your designs are being found,
- Recent Activity Feed including sales, approvals, and so on,
- Recently Sold Designs, and
- Recent Designs.
Not all of these will be available right away. The list of designs which have been sold, for instance, will only appear once you've sold a logo.
In the top-right corner of the dashboard, you'll see an overview of the current status of the designs you've submitted to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store. These stats include are detailed in the table below.
|For Sale||The number of designs which have been approved and are currently available for purchase on the site.|
|In Review||How many designs are currently before the 99designs panel of judges.|
|Drafts||The number of designs you have uploaded, but are yet to submit.|
|Sold||How many designs you've sold, either exclusively or non-exclusively.|
This page also features a chart of how many times your designs have been viewed.
Recent Activity Feed
In the top left corner of the dashboard, you'll find a list of the four most actions which have occurred on your account. These actions include:
- review feedback,
- sales, and
Recently Sold Designs
Once you've sold a design, you'll see a list of your sales just below all the statistics, whizz-bang graphs, bells, whistles, and activity status feeds. As you can see below, you'll be shown whether exclusive rights to the logo were sold or not, and a link to Design Handover.
Toward the bottom of the dashboard, you'll see a list of all the designs you've uploaded to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store.
Alongside each design, you'll see:
- the design's status (draft, in review, requires editing, for sale, or sold),
- links to edit, view, or delete the designs,
- the number of page views each design has racked up, and
- the number of search impressions they've had.
Search Impressions is a jargon term for the number of times a design has appeared in search results across the site.
The number of search impressions your logo gets is a good indication of how “findable” it is. If you want to boost this number, you edit the design and fill in more extra data.
The number of page views, on the other hand, gives you an idea of how interesting your design is.
If a design gets lots of impressions but very few page views, it's a good indication that it's not catching the customer's eye. This could be for any number of reasons, including:
- it doesn't stand out from the crowd (just another logo with a pair of scissors in the hairdressing section),
- it's inappropriate for the audience (an anatomically correct heart on a Valentines Day card), or
- it's been classified incorrectly (a hammer logo in the automotive industry)
Likewise, if a design gets more than 10% of its search impressions in page views, it's a good indication that the design is resonating strongly with with customers.
In isolation, 100 search impressions for 10 page views might not seem like much, but it really is an excellent return. Trying to improve this ratio will generally prove a fruitless exercise.
Once your design is approved, it's time to kick back and wait for the sales to roll in.
To start with, you'll get 30% of each sale. As you sell more logos, win more contests, and submit more designs to the 99designs Ready‑made Logo Store, your percentage of the sale will increase up to 50%!
To start with, we'll be selling your designs for $99 for a non-exclusive licence. This means your design can sell many times over to customers all over the world who don't mind that their logo could be used by someone else.
The first customer to purchase your logo has the option to buy all rights to your design. This will cost them an additional $199, bringing the total cost to $298. For some customers exclusivity is a must, so for them this option will be very compelling.
We'll be closely monitoring how well your designs sell at those prices, and may change them generate the best outcome for both ourselves and our designer community. We're committed to making sure your designs are not undervalued, or allow competition to drive the price of your designs down to unreasonable levels.
All you need to worry about is producing great quality design — let us worry about sales and marketing!
Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Sales
Initially, each design can be sold either non-exclusively—giving the customer a license to use that logo while you continue to sell your logo through the site—or exclusively, transferring the intellectual property of your design to the customer for a higher price.
Once a design has been sold exclusively, it's immediately removed from the site. Once the design has been customized to the customer's satisfaction, your account will be credited with your payment.
If a design is sold non-exclusively, it remains on the site for sale many times over, but the exclusive rights to that design can no longer be purchased. Again, once the customer is happy, your account will be credited.
Once a customer has bought a logo, they're probably going to want their business name inserted — it's unlikely the owner of Frank's Plumbing Supplies will be happy with a logo that reads “Your Business Name Here.” Most customers won't have the expertise to do any of this for themselves, so this is where you come in.
30% of your payment is based on you providing the customer with a personalized version of their logo. As long as you keep a customizable version of the logo on hand, this should be a cinch — just replace the placeholder business name with the customer's business name.
Once a logo is purchased and a name change is requested, you have 24 hours to do the customisation. Once 24 hours are up, you waive your right to do the work and lose the extra 30% of your payment.
Ready? Let's go!
Get started submitting your logos right now, and get ready for the sales to start rolling in!