4 Logo Design Tips for Startups

Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning: designing a new logo for your company isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult knowing there are so many different brands already in existence across the US and worldwide. Conservative estimates have the total number of companies worldwide at over 190 million. Although it is impossible to know just how many brands currently exist, it is not impossible to create a unique logo design that is specific to your brand.

Something most people don’t know is that logos fall under intellectual property laws. So, simply copying someone else’s logo is not only unethical, it is also a crime; putting you and your company in violation of trademark and copyright laws. In the end, then, if you copy another company’s logo, not only will it water down your brand identity, but it will also leave you liable to criminal charges. That sounds scary.

Now the likelihood of being thrown in prison for copying someone else’s logo is extremely unlikely, but it could lead to a cease and desist order, or even a lawsuit. There are 4 simple steps you can take in order to avoid copying another company’s logo:

  1. Have a professional agency design your logo, not your nephew
  2. Don’t design the logo by yourself
  3. Don’t use a stock logo design
  4. Do a quick reverse Google Image Search on the final logo design

Now, of course this list isn’t even close to being all-encompassing, but it’s a good start.

1. Have a professional agency design your logo, not your nephew

In order to save money, a lot of startups have a family member or friend design their logo. If they have design experience and knowhow, that’s perfectly fine. However, if they do not have design experience, not only will the final result not look professional, but it could also end up looking a whole lot like someone else’s.

Famous Footwear vs. Fowler Toyota

2. Don’t design the logo by yourself

Many of the same reasons for not having a family member or friend design your logo apply to yourself as well. Don’t have any design experience? Hire an expert.

Bunn vs. Vengage

3. Don’t use a stock logo design

In order to not have your logo look exactly like another company’s, this is an important step. Purchasing a stock logo may seem appealing: it’s inexpensive, fast, and you can usually purchase a fairly professional looking design. However, a stock logo is, well… stock. It’s not specific to your brand, and it also means that another company could have, if not the exact same, a very similar looking logo.

4. Do a quick reverse Google Image Search on your final design

Once you have a logo design that you are happy with, do a quick reverse Google Image Search, to make sure your logo is not already taken. Now, this step is not foolproof, but it can give you a quick idea of what’s already out there that looks similar.

Capital One vs. Credit One Bank

Even if you don’t straight up steal someone else’s logo, don’t shoot for similar either.

A copycat logo can really water down your brand recognition and will always leave customers comparing your logo to theirs. It doesn’t even matter if they share the same market – people will always associate your brand with their brand. I still to this day cannot unsee the fact that Smash Burger’s logo is the exact same as Game Stop’s.

GameStop vs. SmashBurger
“Hey, there’s the video game store that sells burgers!” “No, it’s the burger place that sells video games!”

Let me know in the comments if there are any other popular copycat logos out there that were left out of this article!

For other Logo Design Do’s and Don’ts, read our 3 Logo Design Tips post.

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