Logo design tips

Logo design guide for entrepreneurs

Designing a great logo for your startup can be one of the most important (and frustrating) challenges you take on.

How much time, effort and money should you put into a company logo? Do you even need one? What type of logo should you go for. How will it affect your business and brand growth potential?

All these questions need to be asked and answered as part of the design process - because there is no point wasting time and effort creating the wrong logo. And, once you have decided on what type of logo you want, how difficult and expensive is it going to be actually make it?

This guide will help you decide on the right direction to take for your brand/business and offer tips and resources to help you get it done as quickly, professionally, and cheaply.

Spoiler alert: Entrepreneurs, like me, aren't professional designers. This article shows the most effective business decisions you can take to have a logo designed for your company - you won't learn about colors and drawing software, but you will learn how to save time and money and get a great logo.

Different types of logo

Most entrepreneurs have it in their heads that their brand is going to be iconic. Something simple and understated that everyone in the world instantly recognizes - like Apple's apple, or Nike's swoosh.

The problem is that brand logos like these work because the company is already widely known. If no-one had heard of Nike, their swoosh wouldn't say much about them, right?

So, it pays to at least have an understanding of the options available to you before you get to far along in the process.

1. Emblem

An emblem is a bit like a "coat of arms" in that it has words - usually the company name - contained within images. A few good examples of this are Starbucks coffee and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Harley Davidson logo design using an emblem

2. Word

Pretty straight forward. Usually the company name scribed in decorative font and colours to help it stand out - like Disney or Google.

Google logo design using a word

3. Brand/icon

Brand or icon logos are usually visually simple. This makes them easy to remember. They also tend to be powerfully emotive, with a strong link to the focus of the company involved.

Think along the lines of the Olympic rings, or the World Nature Foundation's (WWF) Panda bear.

Olympics logo design using an icon/brand

4. Letter

Not every company has a short, punchy name. You've probably never heard of Bayerische Motoren Werke, right? How about BMW?

Lots of organizations use a letter based logo instead of writing out their full name - IBM and HBO to name a few.

IBM logo design using letters

5. Combo

Many companies use a combination of imagery and words to make up their logo. Probably the most famous is Coca-cola, which has the name and ribbon in red and white, but other huge brands like Adidas have also opted for a graphics/word combo.

Adidas logo design using a combination of words and graphics

How to choose a logo type

It's quite easy to get lost in the process of designing a logo. What sounds like a fantastic idea one minute can seem ridiculous the next. It's easy to waste hours and hours making absolutely no progress at all.

Here are a few practical things to consider before picking a logo type:

  1. as a startup, it's important to get your business' name out there because people still need to learn who you are
  2. if your company's name is complicated, long, or unwieldy it may be better to abbreviate it in some way
  3. is there something unique and compelling about you and your business that could be incorporated into the design?
  4. are you focused on a tight niche audience, or do you need broad appeal?
  5. how much licence do you have to be completely "off the wall"?

Ideally, you are looking for something that is simple, emotive, powerful and memorable. Which usually implies unique - with something that stands out from the rest. But, depending on who you are and who your clients are, being too unique may end up being confusing, esoteric, and meaningless.

But, there is some relief from the torture of racking your brains trying to come up with something that is professional, beautiful and effective. It's called a graphic designer.

How to create a logo

Once you have decided on the best-fit type of logo, it's time to get down to the design work. There are two ways you can go about this...

  1. Hire a professional logo designer
  2. Design your own logo for free

Say no to free logo design

As someone who has worked on a number of startups, I can honestly say that I never want to try and design my own logos again. It is far too time consuming, and I'm not a trained designer so the quality of my designs tends to... suck.

The only advantage to creating your own logo is that it is free of cost. And, there are actually some free online logo designers that can do a mediocre job, if that's all you need. You can simply Google "free logo design software" to explore them all.

The truth of the matter is this. As an entrepreneur, your time and effort should be focused on growing the business. You aren't a designer, and you won't do a professional job without wasting valuable time that should be spent building the business.

Say yes to professional design

Pay to have the job done properly by someone who does it for a living. Yes, it will cost you a few dollars, but having an amateur looking website and corporate brand will not help you succeed.

You'll also avoid countless hours of frustrating work picking out colours and fonts, and fighting with expensive design software. So, from this point, you either have to:

  1. Find a local graphic/logo designer (important that they are local, so that you can meet to discuss your requirements, work with them, and evaluate their progress)
  2. Use an online logo design service

I have found that when it come to creative work, it is often better to crowdsource initial ideas. There is simply more depth and breadth in the ideas from a thousand designers than one (no matter how talented that one is).

How to crowdsource logo design

By way of example, let's look at how 99designs - arguably one of the leading online logo design services - harnesses the creativity of designers all over the world to work on your project.

1. Create a design brief

Click the button below to go along to 99designs, and select their logo design option.

Once you have clicked Get started, the first step is to create a design brief that consists of a simple form, with options to choose from a range of design layouts, which industry you are in, and much more:

Create a logo design brief

Once you have finished the form (be sure to fill out any special requirements you have in the "Other" section) it is time to select a payment package.

2. Choose a package

There are four packages ranging in price from $299 up to $1199 depending on how many designs you want to see, the quality and experience of the designers, and so on:

Choose from a range of logo design packages

3. Launch your contest

Once you have purchased a package you will be able to release your design brief into their marketplace of nearly one million designers (from all around the globe).

What's nice about this is that you can actually explore all the existing contests that are online and take a look at the winners (at least to give yourself peace of mind in the high quality designs that are being generated there).

4. Receive and evaluate designs

With each package you can expect a certain number of designs to look at - i.e. Bronze brings around 30 designs, Silver around 60, and so on.

In terms of a cost to value ratio, this service is very, very good. Good designers don't come cheap and you would probably pay far more for a quality individual designer to submit a handful of draft designs.

Once you have had time to look over all the designs. Choose the best ones and nominate them as finalists. From here you can work one-on-one with the handful of finalists to help them improve their designs to make them perfect.

5. Pick a winner

The winning designer walks away with the bounty, and you get a copyrighted logo design for your company.

What makes this design process so powerful is that you can, initially, cast a really wide net in order to get a great selection of rough draft designs. But, once you have whittled the field down to those with the most potential, you can now work with the designers more closely to guide them.

So that's how you can quickly and cheaply create a professional logo for your business without wasting time and pulling out hair trying to be a creative.

What other ways are there to get a great logo? Share your tips in the comments.

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