How Looka began as a side project and grew into a Canva challenger

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Creating a full brand identity carries more elements than the average person may think. Not only are there the basics like brand colours, fonts, and designs, but there are also guidelines to be created for things like websites, social media, business cards, branded clothing, and more. Since your brand is how you visually present who you are, companies are spending – rightfully so – a lot of time and money.

Some major brand launches can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Others cost millions. Looka is trying to disrupt that market and deliver an entire brand kit for less than $100 dollars.

 

Side project, Logojoy, Looka

“The first iteration was very much a side project of mine,” said Looka co-founder Dawson Whitfield , adding that he was working on a bunch of side projects at the time that all failed except for this one.

When the side project took off, it was an online logo maker with “tons of bugs.” But it served one important purpose: it made users feel like design pros.

“The company vision was [to] make it feel like you were working with a designer,” said Whitfield. “That way, you had the best of both worlds. You get the affordability, accessibility, and sense of control you get with an online platform. But you also have the high-quality do-it-for-me kind of experience you get with a designer.”

Whitfield said that the company started with logos because the value was high for users – he found that entrepreneurs would typically make their logo first before doing anything else in their businesses.

Naturally, though, the company wanted more. Once you get a customer at the very beginning of their business, said Whitfield, it’s easier to sell them more services. So that’s exactly what the company did.

Rebranding from Logojoy to Looka in April 2019, the company also expanded its product offerings to include business card design, web hosting, and full branding kit.

 

How it works

The new Looka is all about making things as easy as possible for users.

A new entrepreneur starts with the visual inspiration engine. Looka uses AI to analyze the images you put into the tool, taking a look at the kinds of styles you like. From there, the platform helps you design your logo and initial brand assets.

Once you have the design you like, the Looka platform tools help you perfect the design so you have your perfect visual brand identity. From there you can check how everything looks on mockups – mugs, t-shirts, stickers, and more – to make sure it’s feeling as good as it looks.

Only then does Looka ask you to pay.

Designing the brand assets is entirely free. If you want to download the files, there’s a one-time charge to access them. That’s how Looka makes money, something it has already done with over five million entrepreneurs who use the platform.

The new platforms bring Looka into the category of digital designer, putting it right up there with US unicorn-startup Canva. Looka even takes it one step further, offering web hosting through a partnership with Weebly so that your brand assets are more easily transferred onto your website.

 

Who it’s for

According to Whitfield, the platform is intended to give users the feel that they are working with a designer without having to pay for one. So that means the platform is typically looking at entrepreneurs in startup or small business phase that may not have the budget to work with a design firm or hire a designer in-house.

However, it can also be used by growing companies that need some design work but perhaps not an intense-enough project to warrant a large design budget.

 

Pricing

Pricing ranges from $20 to $80 USD for the one-time fee. The levels offer different support and access to your brand assets. Web hosting is $10 to $30 USD per month depending on which features you need, including e-commerce.

 

Building a billion-dollar platform

Whitfield said that he wants to build Looka into a billion-dollar platform that handles everything from a design perspective. But staying the course during tough times – which Looka has had plenty of as a bootstrapped company – required a lot of motivation.

For Whitfield, that motivation comes in a funny form: Google Trends.

“One thing that kept me motivated is that if you do a Google Trend search, people search more for ‘logo maker’ than they search for ‘make money online’,” he said.

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Stefan Palios

Stefan is a journalist and entrepreneur passionate about the people behind tech. He writes about innovation, scaling, people management, and entrepreneur journeys, among other things, and is the founder of PulseBlueprint, an educational media company for entrepreneurs.

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