Positive Impact Design Logo
October 18, 2021
6 min

8 simple steps to hack your startup logo

If you’re planning on launching your startup soon, chances are you are working 200 hours a week, you’re doing 6 people’s jobs, and while your product is taking shape and you’re planning the launch you may be thinking oh shoot! We need a logo yesterday.

If you’re considering adding “logo designer” as the 7th role to your founder’s CV, then look no further, this article will give you the keys to hack logo design so you can launch your product and get your first customers.

First of all, there are a lot of assumptions as to what a logo should be. You might have heard that a logo needs to have a meaning, it needs to show what you do in some way or another… Forget all this! I only want you to follow 3 simple rules: Read, Recognize and Remember. The 3 Rs.

Indeed, if you follow our recommendations and are able to design a logo that reads well, it will give your brand move visibility, and credibility. Making your logo more recognizable and easy to remember is crucial to increase conversion and improve the sense of community you may be trying to cultivate. So let’s dive into this 8 steps logo hacking guide!

1 - Define your goals

As we said a really great logo can help you achieve many things, but it only works if you do it intentionally. Starting by knowing what your goals are is a non negotiable step.

For this, follow the following points:

2 - Know your industry

That’s probably going to be an easy exercise for you as you should know your industry and competitors inside-out. Capture an image of your competitor’s logos, and gather details about their specific positioning, what makes them unique, why users would chose competitors’ products over of yours?

Then gather all of these into a mood-board, or mind map on Figma… ok! A spreadsheet if you really have to! Or print them, write the details on posts-its, and arrange them on a wall. Whichever way you want to do this, the goal is to recreate a visual representation of the competitive ecosystem your startup is part of.

Then step back and observe.

Some patterns should become obvious to you: maybe all logos are very rounded and colourful? Or maybe they are all letter marks? You may notice that they are all similar expect 1 that really stands out? 

Analyse what you see: what are all these companies trying to communicate? What story are they telling about themselves? And what does this mean for us? How shall we tell ours? what place do we want to occupy in this ecosystem?

3 - Walk in your customers’ shoes

This one should also be piece of cake. Even if you haven’t found product market fit, you should already have a good idea about who you want your customers to be. This can definitely evolve with time, you may launch your product and find that most customers use it a different way than you initially intended, or maybe a different group found value in it than the people you’d have thought. That’s all ok!

Again, intention is the key here. So think hard about your users, think about what they like, what they are familiar with, what products do they already use? What are their beliefs, aspirations, dreams and fears? You should definitely create users personas if you haven’t already. It will help you create a logo that will attract them, one that will fit nicely within the ecosystem of product they already use.

4 - Learn about the different topology of marks

Now that you already have a really good idea of the message you want your logo to convey, how it will look next to your competitors’ and how your customers may react to it, you need to learn about the different types of logos, in order to decide what yours should be.

There are 5:

successful startup logos
5 different types of logos

how to make a logo
Anatomy d'un logo

If you’re designing your logo yourself, the best thing you can do to ensure success is to keep it simple. You can try and draw your logo on paint or powerpoint (We’re always impressed when a client tell us their first logo was made this way 🤯) but the easiest and best thing to do would be to go for a word mark (the ones that are just text 😉)

That brings us to:

5 - Choose the right font

Again, go back to the great research & strategy work that you’ve done so far on your brand story, and who you’re telling it to. If you’re telling a story about expertise and reliability, and you’re telling it to an audience that’s looking for experience and premium, then you could try an elegant serif font like Marcellus. 

On the other hand if you want to position yourself as the underdog in your category, and you’re telling this story to a young crowd of tech-oriented people, then you may want to use a bold, sans serif font such as Archive Black.

how to use font for logo

Try different styles! Making your logo all caps will give it stability, lower case, it’ll feel more playful, try a light version, it’ll appear more elegant, and a bold one if you’re feeling… well, bold! 

This might sound simplistic, but these are really good guidelines to follow if you want to hack your own branding and DIY your logo! Either way, we would always recommend to stay simple, and avoid cliche ideas or gimmicks.

6 - Learn about colour theory

Color psychology is the study of hues and their influence on human behaviour. You can influence the way your startup logo will be perceived by using the right colour, hue, saturation, tone etc.

We all know that colours are associated with feeling, emotions and perceptions, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that green is very often associated with nature, plants and the general idea of the environment. 

how to use colour for logo
3 different greens for 3 very different types of logos

But it gets more subtle. If light green inspires tranquility and peace of mind, a more lemony electric green is more energetic and inspires movement. Dark greens are usually used by legacy companies to inspire tradition, and authenticity.

Blue generally means stable, reliable and professional. For that reason, it’s actually the most common colour found on Fortune 500 companies logo. Think banking, insurance, pharmaceutical, software… You will most likely see a lot of blue. But similarly to the colour green, depending on the hue, the intensity or saturation, you can either communicate stability and calm, or energy, electricity and connectedness. 

successful startup logo
SuperHi's logo

Red is usually associated with passion, energy, speed, power or risk. You will notice it a lot in F&B companies (often fast food) since it’s known to encourage appetite, and it makes the brand look friendly and affordable. It’s a colour to be used carefully as it can also be associated with danger.

Yellow should also be used carefully as it can inspire happiness, daylight, and friendliness, but it’s also a colour for warning signs.

Orange is a mix of red and yellow, so it conveys happiness and energy. It’s a warm colour that inspires motivation and optimism.

Purple is a less frequently used colour in branding. It has a lot of positive associations such as richness, creativity and spirituality, but also has a sense of mystery that doesn’t reflect stability and trustworthiness. It’s seen a lot in brands who want to appear different, younger, newer, or in the gaming or nightlife industry. As always depending on the hue, intensity and saturation, the story you tell varies a lot!

When it comes to branding, colour is a huge topic in itself, a pillar. Do you feel like a world of possibility just opened to you? Can you tell your brand story with a colour? Now imagine combing them into a whole palette! 🤯

7 - Test and iterate

So you’ve done your research, found which type of logo is right for your startup, picked a colour and a font! Congrats, but you have quite a few things to double check to make sure your logo respects the 3Rs rule: Read, Recognize and Remember.

Read: is your logo legible at all sizes? Printed on a huge billboard, or showing on a tab as a favicon, anticipate where your logo will be placed, and test it in different scenari. A good thing to remember is to avoid thin delicate lines and small copy, as they risk getting lost.

Your logo should have a colour and a monochrome version, and should be as legible in both situations.

Remember: here is a great tip to test how well people will remember your logo. Show it to your friends, family or colleagues, then wait a little time (1 hour? 1 day?) and ask them to draw the logo again. How well do they remember it? What will they remember? This little exercise will give you great insight.

Recognize: You should make sure that your logo stands out from the crowd but is also easily associated with the right ideas: your brand story.

To test this, try showing your logo to people who have no idea of what kind of startup you’re building. If they’re able to tell you what industry you’re part of, what service you give, and who you’re targeting (more or less) then bingo. You’ve nailed it!

Finally, this isn’t part of the 3Rs, but always double check if the logo you’ve chosen doesn’t look too much like an already existing one. And do this early! As you don’t want to fall in love with your idea before realizing that you’re not allowed to use it!

For this, try a reverse Google image search and see what pops up!

8 - Understand that nailing your branding can be an unfair advantage

Overall, branding goes waaaaay beyond your logo. The definition of branding is the way customers feel about your product, in other words, “It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” As Marty Neumeier famously said.

You can influence this by making a really impactful first impression (with your logo for example), but you also have to be consistent by continuing to deliver relevant experiences through all your touch points: your website, apps, your printed assets, packaging, your newsletter’s tone of voice… everything.

Branding is the art of making all of these things come together in a way that makes sense and that is coherent, for the delight of your customers and of your investors. 🤑

Branding is also your best sales rep as it tells your brand story and value proposition for you, while you sleep.

I hope this has given you lots of ideas and open your mind about branding, and that you have a good idea about where to start with it! Possibly by your logo design.

If you feel overwhelmed with the task, feel free to get in touch as we always love to hear from you! As we recently expanded our team, we’re now super happy to offer 30 min free consultation. Ask us about your brand strategy, or consult us for a logo clinic, we’re really here to help!

Seriously, hook us up, we can’t wait to meet you :)

follow the Author
Lucie Le Liard,
Founder or Positive Impact Studio
& Brand Designer
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