The above is a compilation of the work of three finalists out of nearly 200 designs submitted by at least a dozen different graphic artists from around the world in response to a competition I posted on 99Designs.com, perhaps the leading website for bringing together eager designers and small businesses like mine. I offered a prize of just under $600USD to come up with a logo for Quikbyke, my electric bicycle rental startup. Now my task is to select the winning design out of all these many, many great designs.
Some background might be helpful at this point.
When I came up with the idea for finding a way to get more people on electric bicycles nearly three years ago now, I decided to call it ePEDALER. I knew the name wasn't great, but it gave me a place to start, Originally, the idea was to sell e-bikes through interactive kiosks in shopping malls, airports, train terminals, etc., anywhere there were large gatherings of people. The objective was to solve a problem e-bike sellers have: it's difficult to get traditional bicycle shops to carry their products. I see it as a cultural thing: up until the last few years, cycling has been viewed by most Americans as a recreational activity, not as an alternative mobility option.
Occasional recreational riders would buy their bikes at big box stores for a couple hundred dollars, at most. These are the bikes that usually end up collecting dust in the garage or sit forloinly in front of a pawn shop.
In contrast, riders more interested in cycling for fitness and sport will patronize their local bike shop -- though increasingly, they are buying online, which is why a third of the local dealers have gone out of business since 2000. These more active riders, usually dressed in colorful, skin-tight Lycra, are willing to buy light-weight bikes equipped with high quality components costing thousands of dollars. Since these are a bike shop's best customers and they're buying the highest margin products, offering a bicycle with a heavy electric motor and battery is viewed as unnecessarily compromising the elegant simplicity of man and machine. As a result, most shop owners won't carry e-bikes. And since there are few or no e-bikes to see or try out, customers don't know to ask for them. It is the classic 'Catch 22.'
I wanted to fix this by putting a working bike on a stationary stand that walkups could get on and try out. For it to work, I needed to start selling lots of bikes almost immediately. Then someone at an entrepreneur's conference here in town made a comment about cruise ships and that proverbial light bulb popped on in my head. A little research confirmed that the demographics I was aiming for: 45+ year olds was almost exactly the same demographics who takes cruises. So, why not offer them electric bicycles when they came ashore at various ports-of-call? A quick study of passenger disembarkations on Aruba, for example, showed that visitors counts ebbed and flowed seasonally, peaking in February, bottoming out in July as the weather turns hot and steamy. From that insight evolved the concept of portable rental kiosks that could be moved seasonally. Key West in the Winter, Bar Harbor in the Summer. That would keep the bikes in service most of the year and expose almost twice as many people to the e-bike experience.
ePEDALER was an okay name for this, but in the era of quirky, but catchy names like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Flickr, I and several of my advisors thought it too, well, pedestrian. Additionally, a certain international rental car company objected to my use of the lower-case 'e' when I sought to trademark it.
Out this emerged Quikbyke: its odd spelling meant to grab attention, but also send a clear message of what our bikes can do for you: quickly move you with less perceived effort on your part.
Now as I move closer to actually ordering the bikes - and I will shortly reveal the final results of the survey we conducted to ascertain which of five bikes people liked the most - I want to give the enterprise a clear graphic representation that is immediately recognizable by everyone. It will ultimately appear on a wide range of surfaces from letterheads to business cards to websites to t-shirts to flags to 20 ft steel shipping containers; and, course, on the bikes themselves.
Logos have a certain permanence to them: Coca Cola has changed in what, a century? So, I want to make sure that what I pick effectively communicates our message that riding electric is fun and do so for years to come. You still can help. If you have a particular preference, let me know of the above designs, use the comment form below to let me know.
We're about to embark an exciting and yes, just a bit, risky adventure. I hope that the right logo will make sure we're setting off on the right foot.
Posted By: Bill Moore [23-Apr-2015]
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