A logo is a small thing that can make a huge difference to your startup. A great logo sets the tone for your company, providing a foundation all of your other branding efforts can build upon.

A great logo won't make your business... but a terrible logo can go a long way towards breaking your business even before it gets off the ground.

So how do you design an innovative logo for your startup? Start by thinking about your company's brand.

What colors are best suited? What fonts? What design elements? Do these choices cater to your target market, and are they relevant in your field? A unique logo is great... but not if it's so unique, your audience doesn't understand it. 

Sound complicated? It can be. To make it easier, let's look at a couple of great logos and why they're so great -- that way you can apply those insights to the process of creating your own logo.

Evernote

Evernote lets you store and organize notes, documenting everything digitally.

Hence the elephant symbol -- because elephants never forget -- in one of the best tech logos you'll find.

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Let's start with the elephant's face. The elephant is the first thing you see. (And the half-moon shape at the bottom edge makes it look like he's smiling; that's a nice design touch.)  The ear is tucked over, making it look like the folded corner of a piece of paper. ("Earmarked." Get it?) And his trunk is curled like a paperclip.

And again, it's an elephant, implying that when users use Evernote, they will never lose track of a document, image, or idea.

The green text is also an effective design choice:  Green is known to symbolize money, health and nature, as well as new growth and fertility. (Other brands that successfully use green in their logos include Starbucks, Whole Foods, Land Rover, Xbox, and Holiday Inn.)

Not only do elephants never forget, the implicit premise is that Evernote users can start fresh with new ideas to improve health, wealth, and happiness.

All that from a simple logo.

Hudl

A relatively new tech startup, Hudl, helps sports teams improve their performance by providing software that gives players and coaches a way to record and review play-by-play footage using voiceover, sketching and text annotation. So why is the Hudl one of the best startup logos in 2017?

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Let's start with the simple and effective use of the word "hudl" in lowercase with a sans serif font. The name of the company already makes you stop and think, which is great for a startup logo (and a startup in general.) Hudl is easy to spell and sounds like what it is meant to represent: players and coaches coming together in a virtual huddle using mobile devices.

At first glance, the symbol looks like a bird's eye view of a group in a huddle. Look closer and the three segments look like balls with wings. That's a very effective use of simple graphics. So is the color of the graphic: Orange reflects enthusiasm and excitement -- and cheerful aggression. That makes orange a great color choice for a sports-focused tech service.

Applying these lessons to your own logo.

The Evernote and Hudl logos are great examples that prove a logo isn't "just a logo." Your logo is the face of your company: It's the birthplace of your brand, your identity, and how you company is recognized by customers.

And that's why your goal is to create a unique, memorable logo that stands out from the crowd. So don't copy your competition.

When designing your own logo, start by remembering your value proposition to customers. What do you deliver that's unique? Can you think of an idiom, story, or expression that uses this concept? Evernote plays on the memory of an elephant, while Hudl uses a coach's inspirational team huddle. Is there a symbol that represents this concept? 

Once you've found that symbol, move on to color. What colors are easily associated with your value prop? Do you improve health, wealth, and happiness like Evernote? Green could be your answer. Do you inspire energy and enthusiasm like Hudl? Try orange.

There's lots of research out there on color psychology. A few quick internet searches will point you in the right direction.

Lastly, always keep it simple. With two colors, one clean icon, and clear text, these two logos are great examples of simplicity.