About three years ago, I started a company called Governor. At Governor, we make guitar pickups. For those of you who don’t know, guitar pickups are the small parts under the strings that capture the vibrations from the strings and send the signal to the guitar amplifier for it to produce sound. Guitarists like to swap them and customize their guitars.
I have been selling these pickups online, but one thing that has been missing is great product packaging. Especially now that I am planning to get our products in stores, we need proper retail packaging.
Enter 99 Designs
Now, there are many options when getting things designed nowadays. There is the good ol’ DIY way and, with great tools like Canva, Photoshop and many more available, this might be a serious option for you. It was my option of choice when I first started out. Creating logos, designs and websites by myself. And even with my limited creative ability, I must say that results were alright.
But when you’re out of ideas, you need creative input from professionals. Or it could be that you simply don’t have the time to do all this by yourself.
So if you’ve decided that DIY is not for you and you’re getting your designs done, you’ve still got several options. Some popular ones are freelancer marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork. Freelancers from all over the world offer their services on these platforms for relatively little money. Browse the sites for eligible designers and get in touch with them to discuss your project.
The downside to this approach is that you commit to one designer and hope for the best. But what if their idea doesn’t align with yours? And how do you even begin to explain what you have in mind? Or what if their style doesn’t suit the project after all.
99 Designs connects designers to clients
This is where 99 Designs comes in. It’s a creative platform that connects designers to clients. According to 99 Designs, they have over a million freelance designers available.
So how does it work?
There are two ways to use 99 Designs.
One way is to go ahead and hire a single designer. This is similar to using platforms like Fiverr and Upwork and it’s a great option in case you have a clear idea of what you want in terms of styling.
Want to explore different styles and concepts? Or have no specific ideas for your design? In that case, you can start a contest. You will enter your brief and wait for dozens of designs to come in. You simply suggest edits to the designers, filter what you like and don’t like and ultimately pick the design you love.
This is exactly what I did. Let me walk you through the steps I took and the final design that I ended up with.
How does 99 Designs work
For starters, head over to 99designs.com and go ahead and hit that “Get started” button.
The site will ask you what you need designed. Either type in what you need, or browse their categories. These include logos & identity, web & app design, business & advertising, clothing & merchandise, art & illustration, packaging & label and books & magazines. I went for packaging & label.
Next, depending on the category you chose, 99 Designs will ask what you need designed specifically. In the case of packaging & label, my options were product packaging, food packaging, retail packaging, cosmetics packaging, product label, food label, beer label, beverage label , wine label or other packaging and labels. I’d recommend you to choose wisely, as these categories do differ in pricing.
I went with product packaging. I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted my packaging to look like in terms of graphic design and I liked the idea of being able to choose from many options. That’s why I chose to start a contest, over hiring a single designer.
99 Designs then asked me for some more details on what I need. In my case, I specifically wanted packaging in the shape of milk cartons. The unusual shape should make my products stand out in stores. From the options given, I went with “box”.
Now, this is where I believe 99 Design’s added value really starts. It can be quite difficult to explain to a designer what you have in mind.
“I’d like my design to look fresh and hip, but still classy. Mainly blue, please.”
Did you get that? Me neither.
So 99 Designs guides you in coming up with clear instructions. First you get to pick from existing designs, to show designers what kind of style you like. Choose your top three from a couple of dozen options.
Next, you pick the colors you’d like to see in your designs. Choose from the options given, let designers decide, or enter your color codes manually.
Now that that’s out of the way, you get to describe your product and target audience. This helps designers to create something great that suits your brand and appeals to your audience. Remember to make your audience specific. You want your branding to match your audience perfectly, so better make sure to describe your target group properly.
Next, you explain your creative vision. Do you like your design to be more modern or retro? Feminine or masculine? 99 Designs lets you communicate your creative vision in a helpful and visual way. Drag the sliders to the perfect position to let your designers know exactly what you have in mind.
To describe what I did and didn’t want to have designed, I formulated the following:
“The packaging we have in mind is a milk carton shape (see attachment for a template). It has to stand out in the guitar shop shelves, but at the same time it shouldn’t look childish. Rather sleek and fancy.
We’d like black to be the dominating color, with orange accents. White can be used as a third color for texts and accents.
The front of the packaging should have the brand logo and a nice layout, but should also leave space for a large round sticker that indicates the exact product that’s in the package. The sticker will not be transparent, so the underlying color doesn’t matter.”
Is there anything designers should avoid?
“Don’t use pictures
Fonts used should match with the logo font”
Waiting for designs to be submitted
I uploaded my logo, provided a blank template with the exact measurements for my anticipated box and launched my contest. It didn’t take long before the first submissions came in. I went to bed and woke up to find the first designs in my inbox. Exciting stuff!
You can rate the submissions, chat with the designers and give feedback to suggest amendments. Be sure to do this to make sure you end up with something you love. It all works very intuitively and 99 Designs even gives you some standard responses for inspirado.
I went back and forth with designers for about a week. In total, I received 32 entries. I have to add that the communication with the designers was very pleasant and smooth. In the end, I chose my winner. I received my design in .jpg, .png, .pdf and .ai format and thanked my designer for doing a great job.
Finally, I signed an agreement to finalize the contest and to receive all copyrights for the design. I downloaded the files immediately and forwarded them to a factory in China to have the boxes printed. After about a week, my boxes were done!
I must say that I am quite satisfied with my experience with 99 Designs. From setting up the contest, to discussing the entries with designers and choosing my final design. The entire process was smooth and pleasant. You might spend a bit more on 99 Designs, compared to Fiverr, but the ability to work with many different designers and to choose from a lot of entries was worth the price difference for me.
Do you have experiences getting designs done online? Perhaps you’ve used 99 Designs or hired freelancers elsewhere. I’d love to hear about your experiences, so make sure to drop a comment below!