* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

What should a logo say about a software company?

I'm looking for a new logo as I designed the current one and you can tell. I recruited one of the $99 logo shops on the web and got 4 samples to choose from 3 were complete rush jobs with one obvious good one, I went through endless slow updates and tweaks and after a month (I know!) I still had a logo that didn't look right and looked over cooked. I don't think my standards are too high I just think the logo was passed from one designer to the next. Anyhow I'm starting from scratch, I would like a professionally done logo but I realize they are going to ask me what style and what it should say etc. Logos like Microsoft, Adobe, Corel etc are all quite bland when you think about it, so what is it that makes a good logo and where do you go to get one??

Thanks for any input, I realize it's vague but I'm no designer so I don't know what I really want.

Joel K
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I'm always most pleased with things that mean something to me, preferably on multiple levels.  I would start there but I'm no designer either.
Brad Siemens Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Get a designer first and tell them to propose some ideas.

This is what I did. The designer then submitted some sketches which we ultimately refined to what I have today.

I did cost about $1000 tho.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
You may find this site of use: http://www.99designs.com
Nathan Ridley Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It should say "He was smart enough not to try freehanding it in MSPaint" ;)
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
had one done recently and are quite please. I suggested we use a cheap source online, but went with the other directors suggestion to use a local 'proper' designer.

Cost a lot (I think) - about $1200 NZ for everything including business cards and letterhead etc, but I was surprised to see that the result of our initial meeting was a good one that we all agreed on straight away with one colour change (actually moving a colour from one proposed design to another).

The design meeting, we just chatted & talked about what the company was, image we wanted to project etc & she seemed to get it; even though the design she thought was best, was not the one we all liked.

I have found that now we have a designer and logo, we have gone back & forth a bit getting variations on the logo done for various formats - stretched versions for banners, short versions for sig's, arty versions for office artwork/signage etc.

So look around at local designer who you can develop a relationship with. May not be cheap but if you are serious about growing the company then a professional image may count depending on your target market.
Grant Black Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I would say that it's more important that people can look at your logo and recognize that it's you *instantaneously*. So it should be striking and it should scale well and be just as recognizable small and big.

Other than that I don't think it really matters WHAT your logo looks like. Other than the obvious caveats that it shouldn't look like somebody else's logo and it shouldn't accidentally be shaped like a penis or something.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Ultimately a logo can't "say" anything about you at all. It's just an identifier. That's the only job it does. Make sure it does it well.

Your brand will be determined by what people say about your product or service. That will be good or bad depending upon whether you provide a good product/service. The logo is just a visual cue to that brand. A pointer, if you will.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I think unless you're doing mass advertising or otherwise need to instantly stand out from dozens of others displayed on the same shelf or same page, you don't need to worry about a logo. Your branding is in your company or product name, at least until you're a household name maybe.

Or do like Yahoo or Google, where their "logo" is just their company name but stylized.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
+1 for your observation about the logos of Microsoft et al.

Good Logos and good names are earned, not made up. Neither Google nor Microsoft are successful because of those. So as long as it does not look childish or goes completely against the culture of your market (inherent a skull to the logo might be nice if you sell T-shirts to heavy metal fans) you will be fine.

Where to get one:

I recommend getafreelancer.com

You publish who you are and what you need and designers from all over the world will send you their proposal. About 50% of them will attach a sketch of their idea.

You pick the one you like and work out the details with him.
Lucius B. Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
If you are just starting out, I wouldn't spend a lot of mental energy on the logo. For a small software company, it's just not that important. It does need to look clean and simple, but your software and business model is far more important.
Mark Hoffman Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
company logo was actually discussed in sxsw 2008 "Logos: Why They're Irrelevant and Can Actually Hurt Your Business"


just search for it in the link I posted. also check out "The Art of Self Branding"
Jay Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"What should a logo say about a software company?"

That's a really strange question to ask.  Especially, since you should be asking:

"What do we want this logo to say about our company?"

Pick a message that you want to convey, then design your logo and brand around that. 

Logos are best when they describe the type of company you're looking at, rather than the thing they do.  Look at Google & Microsoft's logos, for example.  Neither one has pictures of software being built, but you can get a quick feel for the corporate culture of each place and the type of customer they're looking to attract.

When I specced out the Expat logo, I wanted it to say "We're really good at what we do, but don't hire us to build out your SAP installation."  Similarly, Twiddla's logo (hopefully) conveys that while we're in the same general area as WebEx and GoToMeeting, we're a lot more fun.

Of course, a lot of products and services don't really need much of a message at all.  I have a half dozen other sites out there with generic looking "professional" logos that work just fine for their target audience.

So yeah, what exactly do you want people to know about your company, and how can your logo and brand help you say it?
Jason Kester Send private email
Thursday, May 22, 2008
My main criteria is it must look good as a 100+ pixel logo on a web page or splash screen but also look good as a 16x16 icon in the application title bar or as a favicon in the browser.

There is a a real art to logo design and showing the right level of detail for the size of the logo. There are some good articles from Microsoft and Apple regarding how to design a good icon.
Thursday, May 22, 2008

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz