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Out With The Old, In With The “U”

We decided it was time to kick 99% up a notch. Introducing 99U, a university of insight built around the skills that we all need to survive and thrive in a creative world.

We’ve been cooking up some exciting changes since our Conference this past May, and I’m thrilled to finally share details on a momentous next step in the evolution of 99%, Behance’s effort to empower and educate the creative world to make ideas happen.But first I need to give you a little backstory…

What do you do when your brand is occupied?

This was the crazy one-in-a-million question we were confronted with in the months following the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Just days before this year’s 99% Conference, as we were frantically prepping here at our office in Manhattan, thousands of May Day protesters marched down the street seven stories below chanting, “We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent!” I glanced over at our five-foot-tall 99% logo in the corner and experienced a strange moment of cognitive dissonance.

As I was contemplating how to deal with the brand confusion incited by the rise of OWS, I ended up thinking back to the very first 99% Conference in 2009. Two sound bytes came back to me: Pentagram designer Michael Bierut‘s tip for unraveling knotty challenges, “The problem contains the solution,” and Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey‘s observation that particularly successful entrepreneurs always “see problems as opportunities.” I love those twin bits of wisdom, and how they stress the importance of acceptance and positivity in the face of unexpected roadblocks.

Thus, being occupied became a call to action…

A new commitment to 99% perspiration & education.

We decided to look at the 99% conflict not as a crisis but as an opportunity, a chance to revisit and clarify our goals and come back even stronger. We took some time to reflect on our growth and opportunities as a brand, as well as what we really want to accomplish and what we want to give back. What we concluded is that everything that we do is really about education.

Whether we’re sharing an interview or an article here on the website or a talk at our annual conference, the objective is always the same: To dig into the nitty gritty of what really happens during idea execution and come away with pragmatic insights that you can take home and apply in your studios, companies, and businesses.

Through this research and editorial, we strive to provide the “missing curriculum” for the creative world. The education you get when you’re hunkered down in the trenches, the education you get through action, the education you get through exercising Edison’s famous “99% perspiration.”

After realizing this, the proper evolution of the brand became incredibly clear: 99U, a university of insight built around the skills that we all need to survive and thrive in a creative world. Skills like risk-taking, leadership, innovation, experimentation, decision-making, adaptation, self-marketing, perseverance, task management, focus, and collaboration, among many many others.

99U and the new era of work.

We believe that, in the 21st century, an ongoing education is an essential part of life, creativity, and productivity. It’s no longer sufficient to get a degree, and then call it quits on learning. To create and innovate, we must act, experiment, fail, adapt, and LEARN on a daily basis.

99U will strive to meet this challenge, delivering the missing curriculum that we don’t get in school through world-class editorial, video talks, and live events.

Within the context of Behance, which empowers and inspires millions of creative professionals daily, the launch of 99U marks an expansion of our mission. As more and more people take the reigns on their creative careers, we believe there is an increasing need for real-time, pragmatic insights on idea execution. Our technologies and tools are changing daily, and we must keep pace to be great stewards of our ideas.

In keeping with this new vision, we have a number of exciting 99U initiatives rolling out over the coming year, including an original short film series profiling remarkable creators; a three-book series with Amazon’s new publishing imprint; and an expanded roster of live events.

Myself and the Behance team are hugely grateful for all of the support that 99% has garnered thus far — for your awesome and smart and thoughtful comments here on the website and for your incredible energy and enthusiasm and intention at our annual conference. Even sans %, I can promise you that we will continue to shoot for 110% quality in everything we do as we step into our new 99U identity.


As creatives and makers and entrepreneurs, we are all curious minds, hungry for knowledge. We are students of life, and students of work, and students of action.Welcome to the new campus of idea execution: 99U. Let’s get to work!

Jocelyn & the Behance Team

More Posts by Jocelyn K. Glei

A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with how to make great creative work in the Age of Distraction. Her latest book is Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done. Her previous works include the 99U’s own bestselling book series: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.

Comments (35)
  • Todd Henry

    I will admit that last year – for a split second – I thought, “Why is Behance occupying Wall Street?” 😉 Thanks for the great content and motivation you continue to provide here at 99u!

  • Tushar K Motwani

    A really bold move!!
    I felt confused & thought that this is “unacceptable” at first. However, after reading this article, I am as much convinced as I should be.

    Thank You for writing this down.
    Good Luck & Keep Creating.

  • Juan Moises Torrijos Oro


  • 99U

    Doing such a rebrand is always a big decision, Tushar. Thanks for your support! -Jocelyn

  • 99U

    Thanks Todd!

  • citylife

    Looking very much forward to this! Those jobless hippies have nothing on the real 99% lol. I’m partially kidding on the stereotype but I found that the Occupy movement lost most of its value when the crowd seemed to consist of lazy street kids that camp out in parks with or without a brand behind them.

  • Pablo González

    Not much convinced about the change, but your work is the best argument. Keep it growing up!

  • Kristen Lisanti

    As far as I’m concerned, you can call yourself whatever you want. Your content speaks for itself. Congratulations on finding a beautiful solution!

  • Matthew

    Whatever you call this, I will still be checking in daily. Thanks for the articulate re-branding explanation. It’s exciting to always be with you guys in spirit!

  • Husam Elfaki

    It’s commendable that you would consider such a big move away from the 99% in light of your brand essentially being “occupied”, but my sentiment is that the notion of 99% just isn’t as well communicated now.

    That’s through no fault of your own, but even if you went with something like 99X (just because the X resembles the % aesthetically) could have been a more subtle move to make, that still kept the essence of Edison’s words connected with your brand DNA.

    Who knows, perhaps it will grow on people like me. I’m not exactly the authority on branding and the intention isn’t to undermine the rebrand work either, but this idea just came to mind and I thought I’d share it. Big decision made here and I hope it works out for you!

  • jkglei

    Thanks for the thoughts, Husam. The Edison quote — and the idea of 99% perspiration — is a huge part of our heritage and our mission for sure. That’s why maintaining the 99 (and even the 1% cut off at the foot of the logo) was essential for us. Hopefully the U will feel more natural to you with time. The education angle is very much in line with all of the exciting new stuff we have planned for the coming years!

  • jkglei

    Thanks Matthew!

  • jkglei

    Haha. Thanks for the support, Kristen!

  • jkglei

    It’s true the work is always the best argument. We’re still committed to 99% perspiration for sure, Pablo. ; )

  • nkpr

    Looking out for the series of books and videos

  • Justin Park

    I believe that this move is really great and the reasons behind it match what I currently use this site for.

    One thing that worries me however is that Behance might be spreading itself thin. I actively use most of Behance’s tools including ProSite, which has not received any new major upgrades or new features in months. The reason this has started to become more worrisome is because even the Behance ProSite forum moderator has been silent for months. In the past, the ProSite team was always adding new features and kept everyone up to speed on issues and new developments, and this is one of the reasons have not only championed not only the Behance network and community, but everything Behance does.

    So while I applaud this new adventure and wish the Behance team best of luck, part of me is starting to worry whether or not other Behance tools are going to suffer as a result.

  • Sharad Jain

    All the best 🙂 Looking forward to it 🙂

    Regards ,

    Sharad 🙂

  • Mathieu Bélanger

    As a french canadian, the change seems less fluid for me, and I think it could be the same for other languages as well. 99% is an international brand, as everyone will pronounce it in his own language. As for the 99U, the «U» sounds «you» in english, but not in french! It is less a symbol now, and appears to me more cryptic at first sight. As other said, your content speaks for itself, and it is so good that I made your page my homepage, but I believe your brand is less strong now than before. Come back whenever you want, 99%!!!

  • Lance Wolder

    Keep on keeping on… Totally understand the need and the shift, I love what you are doing!

  • jkglei

    Thanks Lance!

  • Justin Howley Suzanne Burdett

    Completely respect your decision to pivot on the brand as it is a risky and bold move, but also necessary to distinguish yourself away from the OWS movement. Kudos, we love you!

  • YacoRoca

    By now, the 99 is what it is, and because of that is a part of our daily reads. The 99% will be missed, as it has become very familiar to many of us over the years, so the best measure is time.

  • David McGuigan

    I actually like it better. The u immediately reminds me of my purpose in consuming your content and attending the conference. Learning and self-improvement. Besides the relevancy of the choice, the new domain is just hot looking. Congratulations on born-againing.

  • John Doherty

    Man, I’m excited about this guys! I love this site and I’m looking forward to what you’re going to do in the future to help usher in the new era of how work…works 🙂

  • jkglei

    Thanks John!

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