99designs is a large and well established logo competition site. At the time of writing they are certainly the largest, with more than 150K logo designers registered at the site. Logo competitions are basically custom logo design where anyone can submit anything. The winning designer gets the money.
Quality in logo design is difficult to score - more so when you have thousands of designers uploading logos. In our opinion, the designs submitted are of average quality.
Logo contests start at $299. That seems like good value, considering that the average competition receives > 100 entries. The catch: 99designs predicts that for $299 your contest will receive around 30 entries. To attract 100 entries, you will pay $699. That's without any upgrades. We did a quick calculation and it seems you'd have to pay a total of $817 to get good results. You can also pay more, depending on the upgrades you choose.
$817 would be good value if you received 100 professional designs, but you will probably end up with around 20 usuable designs to choose from. Remember, anyone can submit designs to your contest. Professional, experienced designers are scarce on competition sites. In our opinion, the majority of active participants are on a novice-amateur level.
The value seems poor compared to traditional design options. At Biz-Logo.com, for example, you can purchase 30 (professional level) concept designs and unlimited revisions for $399.
By default, contests run for 7 days before you have to select a winner. If you want the contest to end sooner, you can pay an additional fee to limit it to 3 days, 2 days or 1 day. It seems a little weird to us - paying more for something that costs 99designs nothing, but there you have it.
99designs recommends that their clients ask for the winning entry in EPS or AI format. We were not able to determine if the designer is actually obligated to provide the requested formats. It seems that the designer is only obligated to provide files specified by the client in the initial design brief.
This highlights one of several problems with logo competitions. If the client finds out later that they also need their logo in PSD format, for example, they may not be able to get in touch with the designer.
99designs has toll-free numbers in several countries. In addition they offer a contact form and a "design consultation" service via their web site. We were not able to find live support or any email addresses.
We should mention here that 99designs' role is limited to hosting contests. They do not actually employ the 150K+ designers that have registered on their site. If you need help from a designer, you are limited to asking in the discussion area on your contest page.
There are many pit-falls here. If you know what to look for and what to ask for, then running a contest on 99designs.com can be a good investment. It should not be your first stop though. There are several better ways to get your design work done.
The 99designs "Logo Store" deserves a mention too. At the store they sell template logos (logos that are resold) for $99 and pre-designed logos (logos that are not resold) for $298. In both cases their prices are well above the industry average. See our section on template logos and pre-designed logos for alternatives.