99 designs‘ business model puts emphasis on quantity over quality with their multiple designers and claims of “incredible results”, as designers compete to give you a “great custom design solution”. Yes, I said COMPETE. With 4 offices in Australia, USA, Germany and Brazil, 99 designs claim their designs are from the best creatives from around the world. They’ve recently rebranded, which reminds (and somewhat frustrates me) about the service they provide, with the rebrand becoming an ironic result.
With the launch of the rebrand ,the company boasts “The community submitted 4,139 logos” which based on the $5,000 (approx.) budget, equals $1.21 per idea. As a designer I am somewhat baffled how this works! How are people enticed to do this kind of work, let alone survive on this kind (or lack of) income.
While I have my opinions about the rebrand, it also reminded me of the huge injustice the company is doing to the creative community and how damaging their service is to the value of branding design. Brand New have written a good summary of the rebrand here.
We have all joked among friends about sending that person to 99 designs when they are not willing to pay for your service. In any other trade would you want 4,129 solutions? You wouldn’t ask a plumber for 4,129 different plumbing solutions? A doctor 4,129 ways to completing your procedure? A lawyer for 4,129 different cases? They’re the expert in their field which should be trusted.
Unfortunately there is an obvious demand in the market for cheap design and 99 has responded with a business model that encourages competition where an online community of designers will submit numerous designs for one client, with only one winner. This creates a very unreasonable cycle of pitching for work you won’t be paid for.
Now we all know design is subjective. People will always have different opinions and that is a given, and ok. Our challenge to create something that meets the clients needs and is best for their business. Our role as designers and strategists is to provide a service. Design is so much more than making something look good, it can be hard for a client to understand what they are actually receiving. But going beyond our services, our role is to educate the client in the power of brand and what that means for their businesses equity, after all we are the experts.
We are in the day and age where everyone is a self proclaimed creative, technology is quickly surpassing us and real people are getting replaced by machines, computer programs, online services or off shore businesses with slave labor conditions.
Branding and design services can add huge value and opportunity for growth and equity in business wether large or small. The message 99 are putting out into the world is that it is ok to pay below minimum wage (or even nothing at all) for a service that they cannot be certain is best for your business. This not only under-minds the value in what we do, it creates confusion, miss communication and sends a strong message that it is ok to undervalue and underpay what we do.