As an entrepreneur, there's always a defining moment where an idea becomes more than an idea. You know, that moment when you say to yourself, "This is really happening." And while you can make it for a while without investing in branding, you ideally want to have something in place before making your first sale. After the brand name itself, the logo typically becomes the focus.

The "Why" Behind the Logo

A logo establishes some semblance of professionalism. While your startup may be working out of your mom's basement, a logo shows customers that you're an actual business.

It's possible to throw together a logo on a napkin or rudimentary piece of desktop software, but consider putting some more thought and effort into things. You want to be proud of your logo.

"You better feel good about your logo before you launch, because it will be on everything, including your website, products, business cards, newsletters, invoices, social media, ads and so on," marketer Allie Wall explains. "If your logo is weak, you're in trouble. Spend some time trying out different logos and see which speak to you the most."

Your startup's logo isn't the defining element of your business--we'll speak more on that in the next section--but it certainly matters. Take some time to figure out how you want to proceed.

The Truth About Logos

As an entrepreneur developing a logo for the very first time, what do you need to know to be successful? Well, here are five key points worth remembering:

You Don't Have to Spend Thousands

Everywhere you look, people are discussing logo design for established corporations and deep-pocketed entrepreneurs. But what if you don't have much of a budget? After all, most early-stage startups barely make ends meet.

Don't let anyone fool you--you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to develop a good logo. In fact, you shouldn't spend anywhere near that amount. For just a few dollars, you can develop a logo that gets you to the next stage.

Between freelance design sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs, you can get high quality logos for less than $100. Some designers will even give you three or four options to choose from.

Don't Limit Yourself

The one mistake you want to avoid is limiting yourself with your logo. Remember that your startup is a fluid thing, and it will likely pivot in new directions once you begin to gather some data and feedback from consumers. Creating a logo that too closely resembles a single product you're selling is a dangerous idea. Instead, go with something more abstract and flexible. The last thing you can afford to do is continually change your logo each time your brand moves in a new direction.

"When I'm creating branding for a client the main information I seek is what is the essence of that business, rather than a particular product/service they offer." Robin Hercia runs AWMYL design studio in Los Angeles, Ca and has a heavy client base in wellness industries - "The branding needs to be original and it needs to be an all encompassing emotional and atmospheric expression of the business - typeface, color, and treatment are all a reflection of its essence and set the stage to attract the desired demographic."

Focus on These Key Traits

Your startup's first logo doesn't have to win any design awards or wow your customers. It does, however, need to avoid standing out for the wrong reasons. If you focus on the following traits, you'll be fine.

Simplicity.
Memorability.
Appropriateness.

It's easier said than done, but nail these three aspects of your logo and you can't go wrong.

There are Plenty of Great Examples

When it comes to logo design, you don't want to copy or mimic any other brands--especially your competitors. However, you can learn a great deal from studying other success stories. Check out this list of startup logo designs--you'll recognize quite a few.

It's Really Not That Big of a Deal

Quite frankly, the task of designing a logo for an early-stage startup really isn't that big of a deal. That's difficult to understand when you're blinded by the emotions of the moment, but it's the truth. Your logo will not make or break you--your idea and the execution of that idea will. You can always change your logo down the road with little push back from the marketplace.

"Design your first logo knowing that it's going to change," entrepreneur Jake Stutzman advises. "Once you've found product-market fit and are ready to scale, you must build a brand, which is much more than a logo. The logo is designed to reflect the meaning behind the brand. It's worth investing time and resources in at this point to get it right."

Design a Logo Your Startup is Proud Of

Over the years, it's entirely possible that your logo will change. In fact, if your startup transforms into a successful business and lasts for more than a few years, it's almost a given that it'll change. However, don't take any shortcuts when creating your first rendering. There's something very telling about a startup's first logo. Spend time crafting a logo you're proud of and you'll likely build a brand you can stand behind.

Published on: Jul 25, 2016