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Guide: How to Choose the Best Logo for Your Startup 

January 17, 2016

Most startup founders that we meet immediately ask us, “what do you think of our company name?”. Question number 2, following that is usually, “and what do you think of our logo?”

As we all know, there are some pretty ordinary logos out there that belong to global winners -- IBM, HP and Facebook for that matter too. And there are some pretty inspiring ones that make you smile every time you see them. Like names, the level of influence your company’s logo will have on your start-up’s success is pretty minimal. But that doesn't help, right? At the end of the day, it’s a very personal choice. There is still a process to ensure your logo is reflecting some of what your startup stands for…. as opposed to ‘simply’ what you like the look of.

1. Look around at some logos

Try and reach 3 logos that you really like the look of and 3 that really irritate you
Note down what you like / don’t like about those logos
Find out who the designer is that designed the ones you liked or send these logos to your designer for inspiration

2. Select 3 designers to receive proposals from

While you can ask for “just a logo”, this is not recommended. Your logo lives and breathes in marketing tools, so designing them together and seeing how the logo works with each element is important.

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Note: A request for proposal IS NOT the design brief (this comes in the next step).

Receiving 3 proposals, selecting one and then 3 directions of a logo means you will have enough to choose from without being inundated and confused.

TIP: “Clicking / gelling / getting on well with” your designer is uber-important. This is not a one off project, your designer should accompany you throughout your company’s lifecycle. Whilst you can always change designer, it is really not a great idea until your brand identity, ie all the creative elements that make up your company’s identity have been formulated. Price and deadlines are important… but not everything.

3. Create a logo identity design brief that works

You’ve selected the designer that you want to work with and it’s time to write the creative brief. Don’t despair, fill in these sections as accurately as possible, and you’re there:

TIP: You can also find a design brief template in a link at the end of this post.

How to write a design brief that works

  • Background: about your company, the product/s and founders
  • Brand values: what your company brand values should reflect, for example, innovation, dynamic, new age, but well integrated (meaning, you are the new kids on the block but you play well with the older systems/processes out there)
  • Requirements: In order to market the company, we require (add/remove as required):
    • A logo
    • Business cards
    • Web site landing page placeholder - “coming soon” (while your web site is being designed)
    • Ppt template - cover and inside page
    • Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook cover visuals
    • Email signature
    • Word template header / footer
  • Target audience: Primary target audience is...Secondary target audience is...
  • Services / products we provide: Names and brief description
  • Creative direction: We like these 3 logos because... We really dislike these 3 logos because...

Spell it out, for example: If we were a car, we would be a metallic Audi A3 - prestigious, fun, energetic, excellent quality, pricey although not out of the league. BUT cost effective, a pleasure to drive/work with, each journey ends with a smile/the desired results.

When our target audience sees our logo and marketing tools they should think: “wow they are cool”, or “yep, they seem reliable”, or “what does this mean?”. Evoking an emotion is really important. Being asked what your logo means is a good sign… as long as the explanation makes the question worthwhile.

  • Competition

List your top competitors and their web sites.

4. Selecting your logo

Out of the 3 presented, usually one is straight away ruled out as unsuitable. If you have “clicked” with your designer, chances are you won’t be disappointed…. but we will be writing shortly about a personal logo catastrophe experience….

With the remaining two you should:

Ask no more than 10 people you respect from your eco system what they think. Bold and honest feedback only, please. You will be surprised what you didn’t think of or see.
Fall in love with your logo. While you may receive a majority who love one direction, you need to live with the choice on a daily basis. Involve your gut. Marketing is 50% scientific and 50% guts. This is the time to get your gut juices flowing.

Decided? Now go and get the rest of the marketing tools designed.

About the Author

Billy Cina

Billy Cina is the CEO of Marketing Envy, a B2B tech and startup marketing agency based in Tel-Aviv. Career and portfolio companies include Canonical/Ubuntu, HP Scitex, Fuji Xerox, Cloudyn, BlazeMeter, AquSecurity Coronet, CyberInt, Illusive Networks, Clicktale, Minerva Labs, Cato Networks and many more.

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