Not All Gurus Are Wise
I never liked having to write reviews like this, even if they are the easiest to write. In short, I cannot recommend Logo Design Guru. Why not? Let’s just say that the phone support is very good, and that’s because you’re going to need it.
Logo Design Guru has been around for a while, but it looks like the site design has never been updated. Apparently, you get the services of over 150,000 designers, whom you can hire directly to work with one-on-one or run a design contest with multiple participants. The site is in English, but you should be able to make a logo in any language you like, as long as your designer has the right fonts installed.
The service is part of a network called Zillion Designs, so you can also order print design, web design, and loads of other services from the same site. These services are offered in packages so, for example, you can bundle lots of design contests when you need a whole lot of branding done fast.
Does that mean Logo Design Guru is convenient? Is it the right service for you? Will it get you the logo of your dreams? Am I glad it’s over?
Not based on my experience. Probably not. Most likely no. Yes.
But don’t just take my word for it. Read on, see through my eyes to get a good look at the service for yourself. Then, unless you have way more patience than me, go with a different service (I tested all the major ones as part of a big project), or just take the simple, inexpensive route and hire a designer on Fiverr.
Like Any Good Bureaucracy, It Works But It’s Annoying (Government Joke!)
Logo Design Guru is, as a service, functional. I made it work, but I did not enjoy most of the process of using it. A few bugs or sticking points in a platform, I can forgive… but in this case, I spent nearly all of my time on the site feeling irritated.
There’s a whole lot more I could say about governments and paperwork here, but who has the time? Mostly, people waiting in line at government offices.
The important thing is that you can, in fact, start contests (which is easy enough), and hire designers for one-on-one projects (which is harder).
When running a contest, you can choose from a fair number of different design styles by choosing logos you like from a set of examples. Sadly, there’s no real guarantee that the submissions you get will look anything like the examples you’ve chosen. This problem is not unique to Logo Design Guru, but it was especially noticeable in the contest I ran for this review.
According to the FAQ, most contests get a minimum of 30 submissions, so I guess I did better than average – I received 123 submissions by the time the contest ended. But uh, not to hand out too many spoilers, I only really liked one of them. Generally, I prefer to be impressed more than 0.8% of the time.
When I ran a logo design contest on 99designs, for instance, there were several logos I liked and I had a hard time choosing between them. And that’s how it should be.
On Logo Design Guru, contests run for about a week, unless you pay to expedite (or extend) them. After you select a final design, it takes about 24 to 48 hours for the files to be handed over to you. Being fair, that timeline isn’t too bad overall.
Your final files actually come in a wide variety of formats, so there, I said something nice. According to the FAQ, you can get your logo files in JPG, PSD (Photoshop), GIF, TIFF (remember that one?), PNG, AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS (infinitely scalable), FH (wait… Freehand? For real?), and PDF.
Update: I got the final files, and no, Freehand (an old graphics program) is no longer a thing. For anyone. May it rest in pieces.
You can ask for revisions (the number is unspecified) before a design is finalized, most likely until the contest is forced to close. If you want revisions to your logo after you’ve finalized everything, you’ll need to pay an extra fee, and then a team at Logo Design Guru will do the work.
If you want to get in touch with your designer, there’s a basic but serviceable messaging system. You can browse through a designer’s portfolio, see reviews left by other logo seekers, how many projects the designer has completed, how many contests they’ve won, and more.
Speaking of designers, there’s a lot of them, apparently. Of course, whether you get the best designers working on your contest is a matter of luck, and I wasn’t too happy with the results I got. Most of the logos were uninspired at best, with many designers submitting half a dozen barely different iterations of the same design.
Now, that’s a common problem with contest platforms in general, hardly unique to Logo Design Guru. But here, the barrage of mediocre designs was just one more thing on top of everything else that annoyed me. Then again, with 150,000+ designers, you might have better luck with who responds to your contest call.
You Can Privately Share a Contest with Others
One cool little feature is that contests seem to be private by default – which I believe should be the norm. Privacy is not an extra, paid feature like it is on other platforms. You can even choose to share your contest with others privately, for feedback from your teams, clients, and the like.
Free Design Consultation
Right off, be aware that this is a sales tool for the service, and if you sign up for it, you’re probably going to get a flurry of follow-up emails and phone calls. Yeah, phone calls (more on that later). But if you’re willing to put up with all that, and you’re not sure what you want out of a design project yet, this service might help you better define what you’re looking for.
They Do Offer More Than Logo Design
Logo Design Guru is part of a larger network of design services, and so they naturally provide, well… more than logos. We’re talking about website design, print design of all kinds, T-shirts, banner ads, and even SEO and other marketing services.
My Experience with Logo Design Guru
So, here’s the deal: I reviewed this service as part of a contest of sorts. We’re not just looking for “the best” logo design service, we’re actually looking for a new logo for Website Planet. Click here to read about my experiences so far.
One of the logos that gets made as we review all the big design services will become our new logo.
Probably not this one, but there you have it.
It all started out fine. I mean, getting started was simple. Just click some logos you like:
Then click on some buzzwords:
Pick some colors you like:
Then throw some text at it:
After that, just pay up, and your contest has begun. So far, so good, and so very familiar. But this is when the problems started. Firstly, there were those generic and uninspiring logos that all looked very similar.
That’s really par for the course with a lot of contest-based services, though. What really started to bug me was how every time I added a design to my “Bookmarks,” the whole page would refresh, showing the logos from the first page again, and making me lose my place. Rage beginning to simmer…
This hassle came on top of the user interface (UI) not being very well explained. I was often left unsure of where to go and what to do next. And there are typos in the UI, a bunch of them. Not grammar errors that you might expect from Google Translate; I’m talking about straight-up, old-fashioned spelling mistakes. This is not what you want from a design service.
In the end, I was able to find a few logos I didn’t hate:
But there was only one clear winner, the only one I rather liked:
My issue with Logo Design Guru is not that it has any single, massive problem. It’s that over time, I ran into such a wide variety of smaller problems. It’s death by a thousand cuts, and it’s almost impressive: it takes dedication to screw up as many things as this service does.
Between the bugs, the poor design decisions (more on that below), and the general lack of attention to detail, I spent most of my time with Logo Design Guru wishing that I was doing almost anything else.
Ease of use
It Would Be Nice If They Explained More Things in Context, and Not in the FAQ
I would describe the Logo Design Guru user experience as being a bit like getting mostly apples for Halloween. Sure, there are a couple of Snickers bars in there, and some other good candies, but mostly it’s just apples. For people in countries where they don’t do Halloween, allow me to explain that people who give out apples are THE WORST. Being healthy is not the point of any holiday, much less a day literally dedicated to candy.
So yeah, there are a few places where the Logo Design Guru interface works just fine (I’ll be listing them below), but the rest is just barely functional and mostly pretty irritating. I previously mentioned the bug where managing contest submissions would constantly refresh the page and make me lose my place, but I’ve got other issues to get off my chest, too. At the heart of it all is the fact that the UI is so poorly explained.
First, there are still some features I saw listed on the homepage that I never actually found while using the site. I’m sure I could find them if I looked harder, but why is that the user’s job? Plus, the UI tends to be somewhat inconsistent, making it hard at times to go back and find things you used previously.
Second, you’re going to get loads of those annoying pop-ups offering deals and whatnot. Oh, and the “Help Chat?” Even when you minimize it, it will still pop up again (especially in new tabs) to offer you deals and the like as well. Yes, deals – not help.
Lastly, and this is a real pain point for me, there’s no easy way to browse through the various designers. You can browse through winning logos from other contests – which incidentally means that your contest will no longer be private once you finish it, kind of wrecking one of the few positives of the service. Click a winner, and then you can click through to the designer’s individual profile to see all of their past work. It’s a super haphazard way to search.
At least you can filter the logos by category/industry, but that’s about all you get for search organization.
Writing Your Brief Is Simple Enough
And this is the other part of the article where I do my very best not to be purely negative. The actual writing of a contest brief is kept simple and easy. There aren’t too many questions to answer before you pay up and start your contest.
Managing a Large Number of Projects Is Simple Enough
If you make the mistake of sticking around for a second project have a much better experience than I did, and make using Logo Design Guru a regular thing, then at least browsing and sorting through all of your projects will be easy. See the screenshot at the top of this Ease of Use section for a look at that part of the UI.
They Have Decent Messaging Features
Once you actually find a designer you like (good luck!), communication is actually pretty solid. It’s going to look a bit like a classic forum thread (remember those?), which is how most of these platforms handle messaging nowadays. It’s okay.
You’re Going to Need It
Before I get into the actual support, I need to tell you about the first interactions you’re likely to have with people from Logo Design Guru. Specifically, this is what will happen if you start a project, but don’t finish paying for it. You might have a perfectly valid reason for the delay: you might be price shopping, carefully considering the wording on your brief, or just saving up. Or, like me, you might be working with Other People™, and need to confer with them.
Well, the next morning, I woke up to no less than five missed calls, more than a few emails, and even a WhatApp message asking if I wanted to talk. I was then called again by a representative who very dearly wanted to help me buy a logo. They weren’t the pushiest salesperson I’ve ever dealt with, but it was enough to annoy me as I was just waking up. And I really did need more time.
Even after I made the purchase, they called my boss, and started trying to market to her, too. Look, I get that they want to be hands-on with their customers, but this is a bit much. To a millennial who’d generally rather walk on glass than talk with a stranger over the phone, this sort of aggro-marketing is just unpleasant. Like, “I’m the customer. Who are you to make these demands on my time?”
If you actually need help, however, you have several ways to get it: email, social media, phone support, and a dedicated number for WhatsApp messages.
There’s also a fairly comprehensive FAQ section, thankfully. I had to find a lot of my information, including basic instructions on how to use the service, there. This is not an ideal situation, but I’m glad the FAQ is there, at least.
I used the chat box to tell the support team to call me instead of my boss. I have not received any further calls from them, and as far as I can tell, they never responded to this message.
The email form on the website wasn’t working for me. Specifically, it wouldn’t accept my (very real) phone number, the same number that worked just fine when I signed up. I contacted the Logo Design Guru account on Twitter to ask what was up, and they got back to me in about five hours with an actual email address I could use.
Logo Design Guru phone service is available from Monday through Saturday, 9am – 5pm EST. This service was fast, helpful, and not nearly as pushy as the sales team seems to be.
I asked them where my files were now that I’d finalized the competition. I’m used to getting files faster, and I hadn’t seen this topic in the FAQ yet (although it is there). This is when I found out about the 24-48 hours it takes for the final handoff.
I also asked them about further edits to the logo and confirmed that, yes, you have to talk to the Logo Design Guru team directly if you want more changes.
There are more expensive pricing plans, but they have no real effect on how the logo design contest works. Instead, they include other services, like running contests for stationery design, brochure design, website design, and more. Given what I’ve seen of the designs available from this service so far, I just wouldn’t bother.
If you do bother, you can get a refund under particular circumstances:
- If you don’t get at least 30 submissions for your project. This applies to all kinds of contests.
- If you get 30 submissions or more, but didn’t run a “Guaranteed” contest, which is when you promise, on your first-born’s soul (not really), that you will actually pick a winner. If your contest is not guaranteed and you do not choose a winner, you forfeit $50 US from the total prize money you offered.
You get the full copyright/trademark rights. You have to file for a trademark yourself, of course, but it’s all yours.