How a Coffee Startup Chose its Crowdsourced Logo

Sometimes, the answer is clear.
How a Coffee Startup Chose its Crowdsourced Logo
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This story appears in the March 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Chris Dominello and Mike Roussell created an antioxidant-infused coffee called Neuro Coffee. Before launching their company last winter, they needed a logo. A design shop can take “up to four weeks and tens of thousands of dollars,” says Dominello, and they didn’t want to spend either. So they instead used 99designs, an online startup that sets up design contests: Entrepreneurs post a brief and offer a prize (in this case, $1,600), and people across the world submit entries. “We had 40 different designers with 40 images in, like, an hour,” Dominello says. Here are six, plus explanations from the designers. Turn the page upside down to find out the winner.

Related: Why Small Businesses Need Strong Logos

A: “I tried to merge the concepts of a healthy brain and a good and natural coffee. I wanted something fun with something evocative, like the smell of coffee beans freshly ground.” -- Jorge de la Cruz Rodríguez, Granada, Spain

B: “We used the company name as the idea launchpad. I thought about the structure of the brain and the coffee bean and tried to implement an icon that would marry these two entities.” -- Jenny of Project4 Designs, Southeast Asia

C: “When I’m creating a logo, the first thought is to make it something non-designers will understand easily. This is obvious -- when you think about ‘neuro,’ that’s something in your head.” -- Dimitrije Mikovi, Belgrade, Serbia

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Company's Logo

D: “I got the main idea right after reading the company name. Basically, it’s a brain symbolizing the neuro part and a coffee cup to illustrate the branch of business the company is in.” -- Martin Junge Kjøbeløv, Aalborg, Denmark

E: “A more targeted brief can make me work faster. This brief led me to do some research, and the design contains three elements: brain shape, coffee bean and neuron pattern.” -- Angga Mahardika Putra, Garut, West Java, Indonesia

F: “This coffee bean resembles a brain with its neurons. The power symbol dividing two sides of the bean/brain implies that coffee is a power that helps the brain be more efficient.” -- Vasilije Bosnjakovic, Belgrade, Serbia

Related: What the Color of Your Logo Says About Your Company (Infographic)

Why the winner won: When the designs started pouring in, the partners intuitively saw what they didn’t like: traditional-looking coffee logos. Then they were drawn to several logos with faces/brains and coffee. One face was almost great, but the jawline was off. “You can see a face and say, ‘God, he looks angry,’” says Dominello. The winner, on the other hand, was Zen. “It’s a peaceful face. It’s simplistic, gets across the message easily, that the coffee is associated with brain health,” he says. “We loved it so much we decided to make 5,000 T-shirts.” And the winner is … C!

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