Top 3 dos and don’ts of logo design for Startups

Top 3 dos and don’ts of logo design for Startups

“Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company.” – Saul Bass

Your logo is the foundation of your brand; it’s not merely a symbol. It ought to convey what your company is all about, make them feel something, and stick with them. To compete with the likes of Nike, Apple, Mercedes, and others, you need a logo that takes your branding to the next level.

Nike, Apple, Mercedes logos


Guess what? Everyone wants that. 

After all, logos are the most recognizable brand identifiers with 75% of people recognizing brands by their logos. 

The trouble of today is, everyone ‘generates’ their logo. Some use the latest AI media generator, and some use Wix’s renowned logo generator (and then settle for a screenshot version, because hey – who wants to pay for the HD version)?

I can understand that sometimes, the logo doesn’t matter. Perhaps when you’re testing an MVP out. Or you’re not sure whether you’re in a business for the long run. 

But if you’re truly invested in your business idea, you’d behave like it. And you’d obsess over getting the signals right, from the face of the business. The face, of course, is the website, and within that, the logo is the headgear. 

Like a bad hairday can make you look funny, a wonky logo can unsettle a client who might otherwise pay your bills for an entire year. 

So, don’t be frivolous with your logo design. 

We have a set of logo design dos and don’ts for startups.

Just follow through for a successful startup logo design.

Dos of logo design for startups


1. Research and brainstorm

Okay, that’s pretty obvious. But you’d be surprised (read: shocked!) to know how many startups entirely skip through this step. 

You, however, should research competitors’ logos, audience preferences, and industry best practices. Then brainstorm ideas that reflect your brand’s values and personality.

That’s what Pepsi did in 2008.  

pepsi logo

Pepsi spent over $1 million on a new logo design created in collaboration with the Arnell Group. Extensive research into Pepsi’s brand history, consumer preferences, and cultural trends influenced the design. 

Read More: The impact of New technologies (such as AI) on Logo design

2. Keep it simple yet memorable

Your logo doesn’t need to be a masterpiece of design. It just has to be easy on the eyes and not a migraine-inducing mess.

In fact, the most popular logos are extremely basic. Their simplicity is what makes them so recognizable. 

Take Playboy, for example.

Playboy Logo

The company’s logo licensing revenue hit $45 million in 2017. The simple, yet memorable logo was originally created in 1953 and has been the same ever since. 

Read More: The role of storytelling in logo design


3. Ensure scalability and versatility

Your logo will be used in a variety of mediums. From your website to your business card and from commercials to billboards. And it needs to look good in all of these sizes.

The 2012 London Olympics logo fiasco is a great example. The logo was designed to be modern and edgy. And it was. 

The 2012 London Olympics logo

But when printed on merch like clothing and souvenirs, it didn’t translate that well. The complex shapes and colours got blurred. And the logo received heavy criticism. And its use in merchandise had to be limited.

Don’ts of logo design for startups


1. Copy or imitate other logos

Seriously, don’t do it. 

For one it is illegal. 

And it is also lazy and unoriginal. You don’t want your audience to assume that’s how your brand is, right?

Taking inspiration from other logos is fine. But know where to draw the line. And definitely don’t do what the clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch did.

Their logo – a moose with large antlers – became a recognizable symbol. 



However, it was later discovered that it was heavily “inspired” by a Canadian sporting goods store called Roots. 

Roots was using a similar logo with a beaver instead of a moose since the 1970s. 

The matter reached court in 2002 and a case for copyright infringement was filed. The legal battle was lengthy. Was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Abercrombie & Fitch also agreed to stop using the moose logo in Canada. 

2. Making it too literal or abstract

Scene 1 – 

Year: 2009. 

Location: Tropicana’s office

We sell orange juice. What could be a good logo for our brand?

Some smartass: How about a glass of orange juice? 

rebranding fiasco

Customer reaction:

The design was retired in 2 months as it faces criticism and Tropicana was losing sales due to confusion and lack of brack recognition on shelves. The old logo was brought back. 

Scene 2 –

Year: 2012

Location: University of California

What could be a good logo for the university?

A wannabe Picasso:  How about a stylized “C” in the centre of a stylized “U”. 

Reaction from students and alumni:


The university quickly reverted back to the previous logo.

Bottom line: Don’t make your logo too literal. But also don’t make it so abstract that it’s unrecognizable.


3. Ignoring the target audience

Your logo should speak to your target audience. After all, they are the ones you are trying to appeal to, right?

But if you do decide to ignore your audience’s preferences, be prepared for a backlash. Much like what American Airlines faced after its logo redesign in 2013. 

The new logo was intended to modernize the brand. It was meant to appeal to the younger, tech-savvy audience. 

American Airlines logo


But letting go of the iconic eagle and an abstract representation of the brand’s initials didn’t do well.

It failed to resonate with American Airlines’ core audience – frequent flyers and business travelers. For them, it was a departure from the airline’s history and identity.

The backlash forced American Airlines to adjust the logo just one year post its release. The eagle was back and the color scheme was tweaked to better reflect its history and values.

Get a perfect logo designed for your startup today 

Your startup’s logo matters. A lot. 

The experiences of several brands from across the globe bear testimony to this fact. 

So don’t risk it by trying to go DIY. Find logo design experts who know the dos and don’ts and can design an impactful logo for your brand. 

The investment would be worth it and you’d be saved from costly redesigns and public backlash. 

Get professional logo design services today.

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