New Logo Design Secret Every Founder Should Know

Jul 10, 2023
Suzanne Reeves & Kirk Clyne
A 30-ish white male standing in an office, wearing the stereotypical uniform of a tech CEO — a black crewneck sweater and black trucker hat. The branded swag items each display a large logo. The logo reads "BB" in a large, bold all-caps font

New Logo Design Secret Every Founder Should Know

Hello to all our new and existing subscribers!

We’re grateful for each and every one of you. ❤️

If you've ever thought about creating your own logo or hiring a designer to do it, we have an interesting read for you today.

Because, as founders launching a business, we all have to have a logo.

Gone are the days of depending solely on graphic designers for a logo. Today, AI logo generators offer a quick solution, but they often fall short on quality, originality and have potential trademark issues. (See our article We tested 5 AI logo generators: Promising to be fast, unique & professional, do they deliver?)

After a decade of working with founders, we have gained a deep understanding of the challenges they face at different stages of growth and the ways that both traditional and new AI approaches to logo design don’t work well for early stage founders.

So what’s a founder supposed to do?

We devised a unique strategy for branding and logo design to tackle these issues. Our approach allows founders like you to hit the ground running while also optimizing your long-term potential to captivate your target audience and enhance conversion rates. Plus, it's a smart way to sway potential investors!

But, before we share our secret sauce, we want to draw your attention to some common mistakes well-intentioned founders make when approaching logo design the traditional way.

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3 logo mistakes to avoid

Here is some guidance for how to avoid common mistakes that tend to produce poor results.

1. Don’t design for yourself

When it comes to logos, many well-meaning founders are certain that they already know what they want.

Your logo, however, should appeal to your audience, not just you. Always remember — you are not your customer.

For instance, a bold, tech-leaning style may appeal to you and your startup peers. But will it appeal to your 20-something female target audience? In fact, how much do you actually know about what will resonate with them?

 Two images of people wearing branded clothing. The person on the left is a 30-ish white male standing in an office, wearing the stereotypical uniform of a tech CEO — a black crewneck sweater and black trucker hat. The branded swag items each display a large logo. The logo reads "BB" in a large, bold all-caps font. On the right, a young woman of color in her early 20s stands in a bright multi-coloured hallway with murals on the walls. She is wearing a trendy jumpsuit with bright colours and a bold, avant garde graphic print and has a choker on her neck that sports a big fabric flower. Her jumper has a ironic welcome badge on her left upper chest that reads, "Hello, my name is" and then displays a logo that reads "bb" in stylish lower case letters. Below the images text reads, "Your brand should appeal to your target audience, not your peers."

2. Don’t rush the process

Many founders make the decision to create a logo for the primary reason that they need one to put on a landing page to capture emails or attract their first customers. To move fast, they often skip a formal branding exercise.

But, moving directly to logo design without a proper brand strategy in place can lead to amateur results and ineffective brands.

Three examples of poor quality logos for a faux company called "Robot Coffee." The logos were generated by an AI platform. Text runs below the logos that explains the type of problems that these logos exemplify: "Low contrast colours, kerning & legibility issues lead to amateur results."
(Instantly generated logos using

3. Don’t create a logo prematurely

Developing a brand strategy and high performing logo before validating your business idea can slow you down and drain your resources, ultimately shortening your runway. And, if your concept doesn’t fly, any money paid to a professional designer was wasted.

Um, so how do I validate my business without a logo???

Yeah, that’s the conundrum, isn’t it? In order to test an idea, you need a logo for your company’s landing page…and yet we’re telling you it’s smarter to wait to create your logo until after you have gained validation.

You’re seemingly caught in a catch-22.

Or are you?

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The secret to strategic logo design

We recommend a two-stage approach, backed by our decade-long experience of working with founders.

Stage 1: Create a ‘quick and dirty’ typographic logo

Kick-off with a simple, cost-effective, temporary typographic logo. This minimalist approach won't hinder your progress and can be modified easily as your business takes shape. This lets you keep your focus on testing the waters with your business idea.

On the left, the Unicorn Fuel logo is displayed over top of a teal to yellow gradient. It is a typographic logo with a stylized lower-case letter "u" positioned above the brand name "unicorn fuel." On the right, the text reads "Typographic logos tend to be simple and timeless, remaining stylish and relevant despite changing design trends."
We practice what we preach

If you think a typographic logo is “too simple," keep in mind that logos have been trending more and more minimal over time. Even big name and luxury brands have skewed this way.

Three examples of logos that have transitioned over time from more complex graphic logo design to minimalistic typographic logos. Each logo moves through 4 different versions of their logo, ending in a simple typographic logo. The three brands are Burberry, Samsung, and Dunkin' Donuts. Text at the bottom below the logos reads "Typographic logos are part of a larger trend in minimalist logos."

If you choose to create your own typographic logo, here are some tools to consider:

  • Adobe Fonts: Browse for distinct typefaces that would appeal to your audience, then download the font family. (Alternate option: Google Fonts)
  • Canva: An entry-level graphic platform that can be used for designing and exporting your logo. The Pro plan will let you upload a custom font and download both high res png files and an essential SVG vector file. (Alternate option: Adobe Express)
  • Coolors: Use this platform to select colors that go well together for your visual identity. Use their contrast checker to ensure your logo will pass accessibility standards. Pro tip: Keep it simple for the logo, using no more than 2-3 colors total. (Alternate option: Adobe Color)
A screenshot of the Adobe Fonts platform interface. The heading at the top reads "What are you looking for today?" With filter buttons below showing that "Trending" has been selected. The words "Fonts of the moment" are shown above a selection of graphic mockups highlighting different typefaces, including Ferryman, Vektra, Firdevs, and I Love Sans. Below the screenshot, the text reads "Browse Adobe Fonts to identify a typeface that suits your brand.
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Stage 2: Upgrade to a descriptive, professional identity

Once your business is gaining traction, invest in a professional brand strategy and logo design.

Wait…why not just stick with the typographic logo?

According to a Harvard Business Review study of 597 logos (including logos from 174 early stage startups), descriptive logos significantly boost net sales and consumer willingness to buy. They also positively influence investor behavior (ex., a more inventive logo can be interpreted as a reflection of the innovative nature of the company.)

A descriptive logo is a design that incorporates textual or graphical components, or a mix of both, which distinctly convey the kind of product or service a brand is promoting.

A selection of 5 descriptive logos: Animal Planet, Heart & Stroke, Bandido Coffee Co, Oslo City Bike, and Norwich Castle. Each logo has elements that communicate the type of product or service the company offers. The first logo shows an abstract graphic of an elephant about the brandname "animal planet." The second logo shows a flat graphic red heart beside a typographic forward slash and followed by the words "Heart&Stroke" in both black title case type. The third logo reads "BANDIDO" in bold black all caps with smaller type below that reads "COFFEE CO;" above the type is a graphic of a capital "B" rotated clockwise by 90 degrees, looking like a bandit's eye mask (it also looks like two coffee cups sitting side by side, touching.) The fourth logo is an abstract graphic of a bicycle with the words "Oslo City Bike" below. The final logo, is a simple beige square block with a shape that resembles a castle battlement or turret, the words "Norwich Castle" are written in black letter case type inside the block. Below all the logos, the text reads "Descriptive logos outperform non descriptive logos."

It’s OK to start with a typographic logo while you’re testing the market (like we are with our new venture Unicorn Fuel), but we encourage you to eventually upgrade to a descriptive graphic logo.

A brand strategy positions your business effectively

A professional brand strategy and associated visual identity is an important way to build brand credibility. Brand credibility has been linked to increased consumer confidence and willingness to buy.

A proper branding exercise includes thorough industry research, competitor analysis, and identifying what will differentiate your brand from everyone else in the market. Your brand strategy will guide all design decisions, ensuring your designer can create an effective logo.

A professional designer will elevate your logo

A professional designer knows how to use design principles to craft a compelling high quality logo that makes a great first impression and resonates with your audience. A good design will also ensure your logo is unique, which is crucial for trademarking.

Researchers at MIT Sloan found that an effective logo has a positive effect on customer commitment, leading to a significant impact on company performance in terms of revenues and profits.  

Pro Tip: Ensure your designer has branding experience (not limited to logo design only) and will conduct industry research and a full branding process. It may surprise you to learn that there are many inexperienced designers who don’t understand that a logo is not the same thing as a brand.

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When is the right time to invest in professional branding?

The positive effects of a descriptive logo, mentioned in the research above, were greater for brands that consumers were less unfamiliar with. This is a significant finding and highly relevant to early stage startups.

At the same time, you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money before you know if there is even a market for your product or service.

This is why we recommend that you invest in upgrading your brand and move to a professional-grade, descriptive logo after you have validated your business idea and before you lean into larger-scale marketing efforts or attempt to raise funds.

If you want a fast and effective way to validate your business idea, we recommend a $100 idea validation campaign. You can do it yourself, or reach out to us for help at

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Case Study: Mindful Market Rebrand

Mindful Market Founder and CEO Jim Kupczyk found attracting sellers, consumers and investors was much easier when he levelled up to a professional brand, including a logo and platform redesign and promo video.  

Two logos are shown side by side. The logo on the left is labeled "BEFORE" and depicts the original Mindful Market logo. It is slightly pixelated. It displays a pale green leaf on the left, with the words "mindful market" small to the right in light grey text. The logo is generic and amateur in appearance and has legibility issues due to the lightness of the grey text. On the right is a professional grade logo that is labeled "AFTER." The logo has a symmetrical, circular symbol on the left in black, orange, and teal. It is reminiscent of the Seed of Life from sacred geometry or chakra symbols. To the right of the symbol is the brandname "mindful market" in a simple but pleasing and contemporary typeface. A trademark symbol is shown in the top right of the logo. Below the logos the type reads "A professional logo significantly boosts brand credibility."

Working with Jim and doing a deep dive into the Mindful Market target persona led to the creation of imagery that would feel familiar and sacred to his niche market, while remaining neutral and appealing to mainstream consumers.

A customer loved the Mindful Market symbol so much, she requested Jim’s permission to use it as her next tattoo. That level of emotional resonance would not have been possible had Jim not invested in a professional rebrand.

A stacked Mindful Market logo is displayed at the top in the center of the image. Below are 3 black and white line drawings of imagery that inspired the logo design. The first is an image of the Seed of Life (labeled as such) with the words below that read "sacred geometry, creation, spiritual protection." The next line drawing is of the symbol that represents the "Flower of Aphrodite" (also labeled) with the words "love, transformation, harmony, balance" show below. The final graphic is a line drawing of the Svadhisthana Chakra (labeled as such) with the words "energy, creation, joy" listed below. At the bottom of the image, text reads "Tap into symbology that is meaningful for your customer."
(Design: Suzanne Reeves)
I’ve lost count of the number of people who have raved about how much they love the brand, website and video.

— Jim Kupczyk, Founder & CEO, Mindful Market
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Go forth and prosper

Ensuring that your brand and logo appeal to your audience and authentically represent your business is an important part of your path to success.

We hope we’ve shed some light on our secret sauce when it comes to how to do this effectively.

Until next time!
Suzanne & Kirk

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Unicorn Spotlight

We’re sending some BIG love out to the unbeatable Rachel Barnard for the shoutout and for sharing her newsletter referral link with other founders. This woman is a true powerhouse and you should get to know her — and let her map your visionary future!


Suzanne has over two decades of design experience, a degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto and a BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver. Suzanne has led design & dev teams, worked on multi-million dollar projects, and spent 10 years running a 6-figure design firm as a solopreneur. She has been integrating cutting-edge technologies like AI and no code into her workflow for many years.

Kirk is a creative leader, design manager, and experience designer with a 20-year career that started in the dot com boom in San Francisco. Kirk previously co-founded Art & Science, a digital design agency that landed on the Globe & Mail’s Growth 400 list, and that is ranked as the #1 digital marketing agency worldwide on He sits on the board of the Bachelor of Design and UXD Certificate programs at Humber University, regularly sites on design awards juries, and is ranked in the top 1% of design mentors on ADP.