How to design an awesome logo for your startup
Designing a great logo is crucial. That doesn’t mean you need to design an expensive or complicated logo (the original Google logo was created for free by its founder and is as simple as they get), it just needs to leave a positive perception about your brand when people see it. It needs to be recognisable and encapsulate your brand persona. In some cases, your logo might be the first contact someone has with your company, so it needs to be impactful.
Competitor research and trends
Before starting the design process, take a long look at what your direct competitors are doing. You want to stand out, but it is wise to ask why they haven’t gone in certain directions and why they use the colours they do.
Similarly, do some research into the wider logo trends that are around at the moment – for example, take a look at why companies are opting for simpler logo designs. Make a note of these factors, but don’t let it force your logo in one way or another at this stage. There are always exceptions to every rule and logo fashions, like everything, go in and out of style.
To outsource or not to outsource
You will then need to decide whether you want to create your logo in-house or hire an external designer. While you might consider yourself a dab hand on Microsoft Paint with a keen eye for colour combinations, are likely to produce a logo of the same calibre as a professionally-trained designer? If you can, amazing! Otherwise, leave it to the pros. You should recognise that there is a lot more that goes into a logo design than random squiggles and a nice font – for example, look at the Twitter logo that was built on principles of geometry, or the FedEx logo, which contains a hidden arrow.
Paying for a professional might seem like an expense at the time, but they are designed to last and a few years down the line it will be paying for itself. Note that with logo design you definitely get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to splash out. After all, this is going to be the main visual anyone associates with your business and you don’t want it to look amateurish.
Set a clear brief
If you do decide to approach either a freelance logo designer or a branding company, then you must be clear on your company’s identity, so that you don’t go in with confused ideas. Create a strong brief on your brand persona and compose a few lines about the aims and objectives of your startup. This will enable the designer to create a logo that aligns with your vision and targets your ideal customers.
There are three main types of logo design that you can go for:
1. Font logos - these use the company name in a typographic way
2. Representative logos - using a symbol to demonstrate the company function
3. Abstract logos - these have a symbol completely removed from the meaning behind the company (or so we think).
Although many abstract logos are some of the most recognised in the world (Nike’s swoosh is a great example), they take a lot of lengthy and expensive marketing campaigns to ensure they marry up with the business in a consumer’s mind. As a startup, your best bet might be to go for something representative or font based.
At this point take a step back and don’t attempt to micro-manage your designer. You hired them to do a job because they have expertise where you do not, so while suggestions are usually welcome, don’t be upset if they don’t agree with the excessive shading that you asked for
Keep versatility in mind
Often you will be presented with a few logo designs to choose from and there are a few things to bear in mind when making your selection. The first is versatility – will it work if represented in miniature, as well as blown up huge? Does any of the detail get lost when viewed from far away? Does it have the same impact in black and white? Will it appeal to a range of different people? It needs to be able to work across the board. This way you are guaranteeing your logo will be consistent no matter where it is used, which is perfect when it comes to creating marketing assets down the line.
You should also familiarise yourself with the basics of colour theory before agreeing with a colour scheme (and note that only 5% of the world’s top brands use more than two colours in their logo), so that you can agree with your designer on a colour that is evocative of the correct emotions. Your colour scheme will directly impact how versatile your logo will be.
Ask for feedback
You might want to consider getting feedback on the logo from people outside of the company. Some of the most valuable insights can come from people with no prior association with the brand as they act as a fresh pair of eyes. This can be from friends and family or from a sample of your target audience. However, be wary of having too many opinions thrown at you, as rather than providing clarity they can leave you doubting your choices (particularly if the opinions are from people close to you). Looking at data gathered from market research objectively may then be the best way to collect data about the impact of your logo design.
Lastly, will your logo stand the test of time? When researching popular logos, it can be easy to get caught up in what is on trend right now. Take a step back and ask yourself whether it will still be relevant in 5, or even 10 years’ time or if you are likely to be shelling out for a new design in the not too distant future.
BrighterBox works with all startups (great logo or not) and matches them with fantastic graduates. Pop us a message here.
*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.