This article was published on June 21, 2013

7 things to think about before creating a logo for your startup

7 things to think about before creating a logo for your startup
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with a top-tier design firm or going at it alone with dusty copy of CS5, creating a logo can be a challenging process for anyone. This is especially true if you’re designing for your own startup — it’s difficult enough to run a company, let alone break its entire identity down to a single logo.

But every company needs a logo design, and you’ll want an attractive one if you’re interested in luring in customers. Before you embark on this journey, we’ve created a list of seven things to think about before creating a logo for your startup. Let us begin.

1. What’s in a name?

In case you haven’t yet nailed down your name, user testing will help you finalize it before you’re stuck with something like Pen Island. Warby parker, for example, tested hundreds of names before finding something that fits its needs perfectly. Shift your eyes to #2 if you’ve already sorted this out.

2. Don’t depend on trends

Design trends come and go, and the Internet has only accelerated trend turnover. From the grunge type of the 90s to Web 2.0 gradients to today’s flat styles, any design that relies too much on what’s trending will look outdated in a short few years.

Instead of leaning on what’s hip, focus on classic design rules and build something that lasts. You’ll want a strong design that communicates your identity in the simplest way.

3. Black and white

Logo design by Timall68
Logo design by Timall68

Speaking of bare essentials, quite a few designers recommend designing your logo in black and white first, bringing in color towards the end of the process.

Traditionally, the need for this stemmed back to the limitations of print. A design had to function in black and white prints, low-fidelity faxes, business cards, etc. Nowadays, print is significantly less important, but the black and white rule is still worth following. By leaving color out of the picture, you’ll focus entirely on the structure and white space of your design. Colors can distract from these elements early in the design process.

4. Flexibility

Logo design by JacobParr
Logo design by JacobParr

Falling in line with the Black and White suggestion above, the flexibility of your logo design is incredibly important. An excellent logo works in various sizes, from an epic landing page to a thumbnail-sized mark on a press release.

We recommend creating variations of your logo for different sizes and even light and dark backgrounds. Sorting this out now will help you in the long-run.

5. The difference between a logotype and a logomark

Logomark and Logotype design by JacobParr
Logomark and Logotype design by JacobParr

It’s safe to say that every company needs a logotype — a logo made up of letters. Logomarks, which communicate your brand with a symbol, aren’t always required. For example, a logo that says “Nike” is a logotype, while the Nike checkmark is a logomark.

Especially if you’re working with a third-party designer, knowing terms like this can make the process easier.

6. What does your type say?

Logo design by pfunder
Logo design by pfunder

Beyond communicating the alphabet, every typeface has a personality. Is your brand collegiate? Is it modern or classic? Is it targeted towards teenagers or married professionals in their late 40’s?

Think hard about your company’s overall personality and the impression you want to make, then find a face that echoes it. Script type will give your company an artistic feel, serif typefaces often feel formal, and round sans-serif faces are playful. You get the point.

7. Inspiration

This is an obvious one, but we had to include it. Taste varies from person to person, but studying famously excellent logo designs will push you off in the right direction.

From the greats like Paul Rand to alarmingly talented designers on Dribbble, soak up everything you can and learn what works. We’re particularly fond of sites like Niice. Once you’re sufficiently inspired and have considered all of the above, get to work and make something beautiful.

Header image credit: Thinkstock

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