How To Use Markup for Your Logo Design

Last year, Google announced that they would start supporting markup language for organization logos. For those of you who aren’t web programmers, that means that you can add a bit of code to your website that tells Google which image on your site is your logo. is a identification protocol that helps the search engines understand the context of the information on your website. You can use it to designate all kinds of information like the date and time an event (like a conference) will begin, the price of a product and how many you have in stock, store hours, telephone numbers, and much more. Using the markup on your website helps make sure Google (and Bing) get things right.

Now, you might think that naming your logo file something like “mycompanylogo.jpg” would be enough.

Not so. While the search engines are pretty good at guessing, some sites (like ours) can have several different files displaying icons and other designs on a single page, Google and Bing would prefer that you specify the image, rather than leave it up to them.

This code simply tells the search engines the location of the design file you would prefer they use when they pull your logo design to display in search results.

It’s as easy as including the following code in your website (with the correct file names and locations, of course):

<div itemscope itemtype="">
  <a itemprop="url" href="">Home</a>
  <img itemprop="logo" src="" />

Best practices suggest that your logo should be a stand-alone file (not part of a banner image), visible on your home page, and should not be animated.

If your site doesn’t use image tags to display your logo, but rather uses CSS to place your logo, you can use meta tags in your code, like this:

<div class="logo logotext" itemscope itemtype="">
<h1><a itemprop="url" href=">Your Company</a></h1>
meta itemprop="logo" content="/images/logo.png" />

Or, if your site uses JSON-LD or another supported programming syntax, you can use this code, which was added by Google last month:

<script type="application/ld+json">
      "@context": "",
      "@type": "Organization",
      "url": "",
      "logo": ""

Whichever code you use on your site, be sure to test it with Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool before going live.

What does the markup do?

It simply tells the search engines that the image located at “” is the logo file they should use when they display it in search results.

What does it look like when they do it?

Do a search for a big brand, like Ebay. On the left you’ll see the typical search results and with links to pages Google thinks will be most useful to you along with a few ads. On the right, you’ll probably see a box that features the company’s logo and some basic information related to the company. Google calls this the Knowledge Graph.

It looks like this:

Ebay Search Box

Google pulls this information from Ebay’s website as well as other sources. markup simply makes it easier for the search engine to identify the correct information to display.

Interestingly, although Ebay does use schema markup to note the correct URL of the website, it doesn’t take advantage of any of the other potential uses for the code on their home page. That’s very common. As a small business, you can put your website ahead of many big brands that have yet to get fully with the program.

Now, let’s image that Google decides to display information related to your company in a knowledge graph, like what they’ve done above for Ebay. By using the mark-up to tell Google which file is your logo, they’ll show the correct file. This is particularly important if you have a new logo or have updated your logo recently.

Some SEO experts report that using markup on your website can increase click-though rates by 30%. Though we doubt that using the markup only for your logo and not for the other potential markup attributes will get you this kind of result, it certainly can’t hurt. It’s generally a good idea to follow Google’s recommendations when it comes to keeping your website’s code up-to-date.

Want to learn more about markup? Check out their website.

And if you need a logo design for your site, there’s no better choice than


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6 Quotes for Startups from Ryan Seacrest to Inspire You

Ryan Seacrest Startup QuotesHis net worth is valued at $65 Million (Forbes, June 2014) and he is called “the busiest man in showbiz.” Ryan Seacrest runs between jobs in television (e.g. hosting American Idol, E! News, Emmy Awards), radio hosting (he’s had his own morning radio show which has been syndicated since 2008, TV production and is involved in his own clothing line (Macy’s). Katherine Wheelock of Details magazine says of Seacrest: “He has amassed a collection of contracts, hosting engagements, and promotional deals that makes Donald Trump’s plate-spinning seem prosaic.”

The Atlanta native moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s to launch his radio show which lasted until he took over the vacated Casey Kasem slot. He started to get time in front of the camera and eventually scored what turned out to be his most publicized job, hosting American Idol. On the production end, it was through Ryan Seacrest Productions, for instance, that the Kardashians found inexplicable fame through their reality TV show and various Kardashian spin-off shows.

Maybe “entrepreneur” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of Seacrest, but there’s something to be said for his unmatched 7-day work week and not settling for doing anything other than what he initially set out to accomplish. Of his beginning at the radio station in Atlanta he said, “I remember thinking: ‘Everything I do from this point on is a step. If I’m scrubbing the break room, I’m closer to the studio room. And if I’m in the studio room, I’m closer to the microphone. If I’m closer to the microphone . . . ‘ I really got the psychology of it—that everything is connected.” He has done all that and then some, and here are some quotes from the “King of All Media” about his success and work ethic:

“I knew I could control one thing, and that is my time and my hours and my effort and my efficiency.”

“Mine’s a pretty simple strategy: There’s not a lot of talent here, but there’s a lot of hustle. I have to be in every place I can and be busy.”

“Failure? Scared to death of it.”

“I think more than anything else, I know when I go to bed that no one’s working harder doing what I’m doing, and I think, quite frankly, simply that hard work at some point was going to pay off.”

“I use every opportunity, whether on my radio show or on television, to break stereotypes.”

“We meet no ordinary people in our lives. If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer.”

—Ryan Seacrest, Media Personality

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Logo Design News This Week (4.42)

Just like every other Friday, we’re back with this week’s round-up of logo design news. Here’s all the stuff we noticed over the past seven days:

New Pizza Hut Logo DesignThe biggest logo design news of the week hasn’t actually happened yet, but it’s getting a lot of press. Pizza Hut is going to unveil a new logo next Monday, though the logo has already leaked (shown here). The new logo is said to be inspired by pizza sauce on dough with the roof icon in the middle. Not horrible, but now that Pizza Hut has moved away from the “hut” actually being in the logo (it’s now just the roof), the white icon looks something more like a floating UFO. However, the new menu items (stuff like Siriachi sauce, balsamic drizzle, and curry) sound promising.

Machinima has a new M logo. And following the superhero theme of that logo, here’s the new logo for the Daily Planet for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie.

Moline School District Logo DesignAnd speaking of M logos, the Moline-Coal Valley School District has an artsy new logo. The icon features an origami-type design (which has been trendy over the past year or two) with a Big M. One assumes this is for Molina. But the negative space in the M forms a book, which is a nice tie-in to the school’s mission. The icon looks familiar, but perhaps it is just a resemblance to the Melbourne logo designed by Landor a few years back. We don’t usually feature logos for small school districts, but this one is pretty good. So we share…

The long-running soap opera, Days of Our Lives, has a new logo. Does the lower-case “o” in “our” bother anyone besides us?

Star Wars Force Awakens Logo DesignStar Wars fans have been eating up every bit of news that has come from the new movie, which reportedly has wrapped principal photography in England in the last week or so. This week saw the release of the new movie’s logo on Twitter. We’re looking forward to the next installment and the release of the logo just whets everyone’s appetite for more.

Metal Packaging Europe has a new recycling logo design.

2014 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Logo DesignLast week we showed you the new logo for the GoDaddy Bowl, this week we got a look at the new logo design for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. You might be wondering… what do Good Year and cotton have in common? Good question. The answer is football, which seems to have an uncanny ability to match sponsors with games in the pursuit of getting the sponsor’s name in front of as many fans as possible. As for the logo—bleh. It has cotton. It has a football stadium. And nothing to recommend it as a great design.

Ad agency Campbell Mithun has changed its name and logo. Very modern, or perhaps soviet looking. The more we look at it, the more we like it.

Golden Eagle Logo DesignFans of Southern Miss were treated to a couple of new logo options this past week. The University unveiled two design options for the Golden Eagle—one with a new eye, and one with the old (or something like the old). If we had a vote (and weirdly we don’t), we’d pick the newer “dynamic eye” design.

One more football logo (it’s the season): a new logo for the Great American Classic between East Central University and Southeastern. We’ve never heard of this game before, so maybe its not the classic its been advertised to be. Or maybe we’re not the football fan we thought we were.

Rosetta Comet Google Logo DesignWrapping things up, this week saw two new Google logo worth mentioning here. As usual, Google honored Veteran’s Day with a logo design that paid tribute especially to women who have served in the Armed Forces. You can see that logo here. Then on Wednesday, Google put up a new logo to celebrate the landing of the European Space Agency’s satellite Rosetta on a comet. While the logo is pretty cool, the ability of man to place a satellite on a comet? Holy crap, that’s cool.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.


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What Does The Color Green Mean?

A few weeks ago we shared our thoughts about color psychology and the meaning of red.

The bottom line is that most of what you read about color isn’t based on science. In fact, a lot of the thinking about color seems to be pulled out of thin air. Or worse.

Like the stuff that’s been said about the color green. We did a quick Google search and grabbed a few quoted from pages that appear in the search results for the meaning of the color green:

Green is the color of balance and harmony… it is the great balancer of the heart and emotions…”

“Since the beginning of time, green has signified growth, rebirth, and fertility.”

“Certain mid-range greens increase appetite.”

Where to start?

How exactly does green balance the heart? Or the emotions?

Since the beginning of time… can we see the documentation on this? Was anyone actually present at the beginning of time to see that green signified growth or rebirth?

And while we’re at it, can someone please show us the science behind the idea that the color green can increase appetite? As we wrote about the color red: there is simply no scientific evidence to back up claims like this (unless you’re a fish).

Does anyone else get the feeling that this stuff was written by dial-a-psychic, Miss Cleo?

Maybe you’ve seen an infographic with a section like this:

Green Infographic


If green is associated with the harmony of nature, why is one of the logos a robot that symbolizes Google’s mobile operating system? What’s natural about that? If the whole green means nature thing is right, Google’s choice of green for their logo is terrible.

Okay, so green does have a strong connection to nature. And recycling. But that doesn’t mean that using green in your logo will make people think about nature when they see it.

Color doesn’t work that way. Do any of these logos make you think of nature? Or harmony?

Holiday Inn Logo Design

HR-Block Logo Design

X Box Logo Design

TD Ameritrade Logo Design

Sony Ericsson Logo Design

DA Davidson Logo Design

Not really. Because none of these products are natural or have anything to do with harmony. You associate the logo and its color with the product or service offered by the company. Even when the product has nothing to do with the supposed meaning of the color used.

Yes, there are hundreds of logos for natural products that use green. But that doesn’t mean that if you use green in your logo, people will automatically associate it with nature.

Just ask BP.

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8 Quotes from London-based Entrepreneur Jessica Butcher

Jessica Butcher Startup QuotesOur inspirational quotes for this week come from across the pond, where Jess Butcher and her co-founders have found international success with their “augmented reality app”, Blippar. It turns any physical, printed image, or product into an interactive digital experience. Butcher currently oversees the expansion of the brand as head of the company’s consumer-marketing divisions.

Butcher says that looking at her CV leading up to Blippar, you’d basically come to the conclusion that she had a short attention span or was difficult to manage. She had spent a couple of years founding an eco-tourism company in Africa, another period helping launch in Europe, and a stint heading up partnerships at Of her 14 years of professional experience before her Blippar success, she says: “I hadn’t needed that MBA to get here or to follow a set path —just my own self-belief, hard work and of course that all-important right-time, right-place luck.” To those among us who are still bush-whacking our way into getting that start-up off the ground, here are some lessons learned from Jess Butcher who has experienced the frustration and boredom of being employed by someone else, the burn of failure, and the satisfaction of victory.

“Invest in memories. It’s ultimately what life is about—people, places, moments and experiences.”

“Stop benchmarking yourself against other successful entrepreneurs or business people—it wastes valuable energy!  Your personality and circumstances are unique and there is no right or wrong way to grow an innovative business.”

“Learn from others’ experiences and be inspired by them, but also make your own rules and navigate your own path.”

“Sometimes it’s the right decision to end a particular course of action or working relationship, but I now make a more concerted effort to salvage or reverse a situation.”

“Trust your gut instinct as much if not more than the numbers, and surround yourself with people who you respect and enjoy working with.”

“The occasional error of judgment or wrong move can often move your business faster than the right ones… About-turns are not weak, they’re strong and demonstrate good leadership, but they need to happen quickly and be communicated decisively.”

“If you’re fortunate enough to have a product or service that you can trade for another, then ‘in kind’ deals can help a lot with cash flow in the early days.”

“My path to entrepreneurialism was more a default necessity out of the fact that I wasn’t very good at being someone else’s employee combined with this constant thirst to ‘disrupt’ and ultimately, and most importantly… luck.”

—Jess Butcher, CMO & Founding Director at Blippar

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Logo Design News This Week (4.41)

That week went fast. It’s Friday, which means it’s time to take a look back at the latest news from the world of logo design. Good logos and bad, here’s what caught our eye:

Arizona Lottery Logo DesignLet’s start off with the new logo for the Arizona Lottery, announced just this week. Based on recent analysis on why players are attracted to the game, the new logo is supposed to convey a sense of fun and entertaining nature the lottery games offer. Given the cheap, clip-art prospector look of the old logo design, which also featured the state’s flag, we’d say this is an improvement that will make the new logo a little more versatile, though we wonder if the star iconography is connected a little more closely to Texas than Arizona. Nevertheless, a good step forward for this brand.

November has come to be known as the month when men grow out their mustaches to draw attention to prostate cancer and other men’s issues. Emblematic takes a look at the rise in logos with nose neighbors, lip dusters, and crumb catchers.

GoDaddy Bowl Logo DesignIt used to be called the Mobile Alabama Bowl, then the GMAC bowl, and now the GoDaddy Bowl. And it’s never been shy about advertising it’s sponsor’s connections in the official logo. This week we got the first look at the new Bowl logo, which screams GoDaddy. If you’re not bothered by the massive presence of the sponsor, then it’s not a bad logo. The design is simple, featuring standard elements of a football and shield. GoDaddy will certainly love it.

We’ve said it before, we like minor league baseball logos. Like the new-last-year Akron Rubber Ducks which we wrote about here. This week their logo was named the Best New Logo of the Year by Ballpark Digest. We assume that’s a prestigious award.

New SAPO Logo DesignHere’s a new logo we love (via Brand New) for Portuguese search engine and web portal SAPO. The old logo was cartoonish and dated, while the new logo is abstract, a bit more sophisticated, and unique. The 3D effect gives the icon some depth without jumping out at you. Nice. And the new word mark is a big step up as well, nothing amazing, just a good use of a strong font. With all the badly designed icons we see each week, it’s nice to come across one like this. Bravo, SAPO.

Two cities share a logo. So who’s name goes first? It’s a logo controversy!

Respublica University Logo DesignOne category of branding that we tend to like is college and university logos. We’ve profiled many here on the blog and they tend to fall into one of two categories. Either they rely heavily on traditional design elements like shields, books, scrolls, and latin phrases on ribbons, or they try to be so different that they end up not looking like schools at all. This logo is for a bookstore, not a university, despite the name: Respublica University. However they do a great job of capturing the iconography of the first direction, while creating some distance as well.

After 51 years, Chrysler is putting its pentagram/star logo into storage. Another Logo R.I.P.

Election Day Google Logo DesignGoogle’s latest logo was posted for Election Day in the United States. And as is becoming more common, it was more than a simple logo. Clicking on this icon let you search for your polling location so you could vote. A great use of the logo and a great way to generate some positive PR for the day.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.


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Your Brand Is Your Friend. No Really. Science Says So.

Brains and BrandingFor the past 10 years or so, it has been common to hear experts (marketers and brand managers) talk about how brands need to create relationships with customers.

That’s why there are so many brands on Facebook and Twitter—just waiting for you to like them, or comment on your experience with them.

And while you may think that its ridiculous to have a “relationship” with your tooth paste or laundry detergent, the experts are quite adamant.

They want to be friends.

Actually, there’s a very good reason we hear this kind of thing (although the experts may not even know it). And that reason may surprise you.

When we think about brands (and logos) that we like, we use the same part of the brain that we use when we think about our friends.

It’s true.

Researchers in Lisbon and Glasgow recorded brain function when participants assessed real brands (represented by recognizable logo designs) and fake brands (with meaningless but real-looking logos). The fake logos were designed to mimic real brands and their symbols, even though the brands they represented were made-up.

Guess what they found?

When participants recognized a brand, they activated a network in their brains following the cortical midline and parietal brain structures (paracingulate and cingulate gyri, precuneous cortex, angular gyrus, and posterior supramarginal gyrus). These areas are thought to be used in self-knowledge, person/social perceptions, and mentalizing tasks.

Did we lose you?

Let’s say all that in normal English…

When people saw logos they recognized, their brains lit up in the same areas where we form opinions about ourselves, recognize other people, and form empathy-based relationships.

Or even more simply: we appear to think about familiar brands (and logos) the same way we think about our selves and our friends.

When participants saw the fake brands, this response was absent.

More from the study:

“Our results suggest that, conceptually, individuals do not think about brands as they think about trivial objects or animals, but in the same plane and using the same cognitive processes supported by the same brain network, they think about their confederates, and in this sense, humans have a special cognition toward brands…

The means that the relationships that humans maintain with brands may be more than a convenient metaphor. In fact, we claim that if the cognitive processes that subserve human-human and human-brand relationships are biologically the same, there [is not a] space for a distinction.”

So, all that talk about brands having relationships with customers? Maybe there’s something to it. Though, let’s be honest, this phenomena is most likely to happen with brands you truly love—lifestyle brands and brands you purposely choose to use.

And if the above research is true, then brand owners need to give more thought to how they are speaking to customers.

Do you talk to them like friends? Because that may be how they see your brand.

On the other hand, there are a few products that don’t need this kind of relationship.

For more cool facts about brands, logos, and science, check out this infographic that details how brains see logos. And you can create your own brand here.


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12 Quotes from “Achievement Formula” Expert, Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill Startup QuotesNapoleon Hill was an author and an advisor (the most prestigious of those receiving his advice being President Franklin D. Roosevelt). Hill was one of the earliest producers and curators of “personal success” advice, for purposes not unlike this very blog post: to help entrepreneurs learn from those who had already achieved their business goals.

Early in Hill’s writing career he was assigned the task of interviewing Andrew Carnegie –at the time one of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world—with the intent of finding out what made Carnegie so successful. Carnegie was intrigued by the idea of finding an “Achievement Formula” and he inspired Hill to continue talking to other successful business people to find out if there was a common denominator. What followed was Hill’s years-long pursuit of interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs and documenting their experiences and thoughts on what they thought the key was to their success. His teachers included (either directly or indirectly through associates) Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, William Wrigley, Jr., to name a few. Hill compiled and wrote about themes of success in volumes of work, but his most famous book is entitled Think and Grow Rich.

Hill became the resident expert on how to achieve personal success, and in doing so, found success for himself. Through his years of research and writing on the topic of, here is what he would advise for you in your pursuit of personal achievement:

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”

“Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.”

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound. Rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”

“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”

“Victory is possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.”

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

“Before success comes in any man’s life, he’s sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do.”

—Napoleon Hill, Author and Success Advisor

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Logo Design News This Week (4.40)

Happy Halloween. It’s Friday which means it’s time for another look back at the latest news from the world of logo design. Here’s the big news that caught our attention and made the weekly round-up:

Cathay Pacific LogoWe saw two new airline logos this week, one is a minor clean up, the other of which seems to be a bad idea to us. The first is a new logo for Cathay Pacific, removed the green and red box from the icon, leaving just the bird-wing brush stroke. They also cleaned up the type by removing the title case treatment. Not bad. But we can’t get excited about the new livery design and logo for Spirit Airlines. (This actually isn’t new this week, it was released last May, but we just saw it at Brand New this week). Spirit Airlines Logo DesignThe new logo is designed to look like a sketch—almost as if the airline is saving money by not having a well-designed logo. It’s a nice idea, but we’re not sure it inspires confidence when painted on the actual airplanes—and confidence seems to be the one thing you want to feel from your airline brand.

Speaking of Brand New, you can download the latest Brand New Awards book here. Some really good work here.

Russia World Cup Logo DesignThe next World Cup tournament is scheduled for Russia in 2018 and this week we got the first look at the new logo. And it seems that we’ve seen this logo somewhere before. Why would Russia retread the Brazil World Cup logo? Does FIFA encourage designers to base the logo on their trophy? It’s not like the tournament has a history of using the same logo with just a few tweaks. No doubt, some World Cup logos have been pretty bad. Check out this horrendous logo from Germany 2006. And in comparison this isn’t a bad design. It just doesn’t feel very original. Check out the parody logos created by a few people having fun at the Russian’s expense. USA Today feels differently.

Avengers: Age of Ultron lit up the Internet with their new trailer this week. And it showed off the movie’s new logo design.

Glenfiddich Logo DesignGlenfiddich, the Scottish maker of single malt scotch, updated their logo last week. The old logo featured an eight-point stag described as “a young male within a herd”. The new logo features a “royal stag” with a larger, 12-point rack. The new icon is simpler and stronger. It’s a really nice mark balanced with a strong logotype that has a historic feel. We really like this work.

The University of Tennessee has a new logo. They call it the power T.

Whoops, a copied campaign logo.

Salk Google Logo DesignGoogle had a couple of really nice new logos this week. Today they posted six different animated designs for Halloween—including a were-wolf, a scarecrow, bouncing pumpkins, and our favorite, a witch adding ingredients to a pot of magical brew. But our favorite logo design from Google this week is this design celebrating the 100th birthday of Jonas Salk, who discovered a vaccine for polio and saved millions of lives.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

And if you need to make your own logo, check this out.

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Are Startup Success Stories Really Startup Luck Stories?

Churchill Startup SuccessHave you ever picked up a business book looking for ideas, or inspiration, or even guidance?

Books like Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Shultz or Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull—both fantastic books by the way—are all about the smart decisions that helped ceate massively successful businesses worth billions of dollars.

Who doesn’t want to learn from those guys?

And share in their success.

But what if their success was less about what they did right, and more about being lucky?

Should we question celebrated best-sellers like Good to Great by Jim Collins, which compares two sets of similar companies to extrapolate why one is successful and the other isn’t?

He puts together a list of reasons: level 5 leadership, getting the right people on the bus, chasing big hairy audacious goals—all good ideas that entrepreneurs have tried to emulate for years.

But some entrepreneurs who follow all of this advice still fail.

The have their BHAGs, their hedgehog concepts, and the right team. And still their business doesn’t take off.

Or they do everything recommended in Nail It, Then Scale It, but can’t get traction.

The have great products that solve real market problems, and still fail.

First PlaceAs I read Catmull’s Creativity, Inc., I kept thinking about how lucky Pixar was that every thing just went right—even when things went wrong. (To be fair, I think Ed Catmull would acknowledge they were indeed very lucky at times). Steve Jobs comes in at just the right time to buy the company. Someone just happened to download an entire movie to an offsite hard drive before the onsite server is erased. Disney wants to renegotiate a contract at a time when Pixar has maximum negotiating power. And on and on.

While there’s a lot of great advice and thinking in all of these books, I’m not sure how much of it is repeatable.

Michael Dell is famous for starting his computer business in his dorm room, but he wasn’t the only college student that did that. He is just the one we know about.

Herb Kelleher is famous for Southwest Airlines’ maverick attitude, low-prices, and quick turns at the gate. But they’re not the only airline that did those things. In fact, they took some of their ideas from their competitors. But Southwest gets the press.

Tom Monaghan wasn’t the only guy to deliver food in the 70s. Did he get lucky connecting with the right advertising agency? Or with a product perfect for a market shifting away from home cooked meals to pick-up options? Or something else?

There were thousands of would-be entrepreneurs who had ideas similar to these incredibly successful entrepreneurs. But we don’t hear about the failures, because they were unlucky—and bad luck doesn’t make a great story.

What makes these guys stand out is that they survived the startup journey. They’re the ones who get profiled in the books and magazines. The very thin right edge of the bell curve. They speak at conferences and commencements and appear on CNBC to talk about their success.

But their experience isn’t typical.

It’s not even probable.

What’s worse, even their bad decisions start to look brilliant after things have worked out. If you could go back and watch successful founders at the startup phase of their companies like Sergey Brin at Google, or Marc Benioff at Salesforce, or Ray Kroc at McDonald’s, you’d find that their success wasn’t predictable. There were moments when things didn’t go well and failure was possible or even almost certain. (If this weren’t true, we’d all be able to spot the next great business success, buy up all the stock, and retire to our private islands.)

All of this isn’t to say that startup success is totally random. It’s not. Money, connections, skill sets, timing, and the ability to spot opportunity all play a part. But it just might be that the biggest contributor to success is luck.

David McRaney, the author of You Are Now Less Dumb, wrote about this topic and concluded the following:

If you spend your life only learning from survivors, buying books about successful people and poring over the history of companies that shook the planet, your knowledge of the world will be strongly biased and enormously incomplete. As best I can tell, here is the trick: When looking for advice, you should look for what not to do, for what is missing… but don’t expect to find it among the quotes and biographical records of people whose signals rose above the noise. They may have no idea how or if they lucked up.

Sounds about right.

Note: Yes, we’re aware that we print a weekly column of advice from successful entrepreneurs. And we still think there is something to learn from them. However, it’s just part of the story. 

Photo credits: gareth1953 the original and kevinthoule via photopin cc

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