Today I’m going to tell about something not directly related to games, but very important for any company – the logo. Our trusty old logo has served us well for 5 years, representing our studio in box art, intro movies etc.

But when we started to shift from “old school” 2D games towards much more advanced and modern technology, I thought that we needed a new logo to symbolize this change of approach. I also decided to drop “Studio” from the name, because nobody used it anyway.

Tricky thing about designing a logo is that it’s a very special form of art. There are many nuances here which artists working in other areas of graphics design may not know. Ideally, a logo must be created by a professional who specializes in this area. I did not know anyone with expertise in this area. Solution came in the form of graphics design marketplaces. These are sites where you can publish a design contest, and artists from around the world submit their ideas matching your requirements. In the end you pick one or several winning designs. This approach looked interesting for several reasons. First, I did not need to look for a good designer upfront and commit to working with him by a contract. Second, at least in theory, with many people looking at your design task, there is a better chance that someone will come up with a great idea. Finally, many such sites offer a 100% money back guarantee in case you don’t get any good designs.

So I decided to give it a try. From all design marketplaces out there, 99designs seems to be the biggest, so I created my design contest there. They offer several options at various price points, but I went with the least expensive plan. Without a doubt, running a design contest was a very interesting experience. I certainly did not expect such a massive response. Overall, I got more than 100 entries, and during the qualifying round (period when all designers are free to submit their ideas to contest) I spent most of my time reviewing designs, assigning star ratings and writing feedback.

Most people tried to adapt the old logo design in various ways. This was not necessarily a bad thing: personally I have a great respect for tradition and backwards compatibility. However, I got only a few fresh original ideas, and none of them ware totally convincing. So, my personal experience did not demonstrate a huge creative potential of a designer crowd.

A few people took hourglass from various clipart/stock art sources and did not tell me about it (which is against contest rules). I was able to detect this, because the quality of the overall design clearly did not match the quality of the hourglass image. So I went to Google and found images in question. This is another potential problem with design contests, and you need to be aware of it. I concluded that my best bet was to settle on a more unusual design, which was clearly tailored towards my requirements, because such design would most likely be original.

My winning design also started from the idea to hint at the old logo, but in a subtle way. Letters FB (for FlashBack) form an outline which reminds the shape of an hourglass.

I liked how simple yet stylish it looked, but I felt that it was too generic. It could be a logo of any company or person with initials F.B. There was a slight hint at hex shape, but this was it. So we worked together with the designer McGee to find more useful symbols and associations which could be added to the logo, without losing its simple, clean and modern look. To my surprise, we were able to find not just a few, but nearly 10 associations which could be incorporated into the design. At one point we also noticed that FB could be intertwined with rotated reverse FB. Finally, the original straightforward hex shape became “distorted by perspective”. I guess, this can symbolize our transition to 3D.

In any event, I’m really happy with final result. It’s a perfect fit for our company, it looks modern and stylish, and monochrome design makes it super flexible. You can put it on any background, engrave it on any surface etc.

So overall, my experience with design marketplace was a positive one. In our crazy world, where big companies spend millions of dollars on logo design, and do not necessarily get great results, this does sound like a good option.