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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6 Inspirational Quotes from George Deeb to Motivate Your Start-up

George Deeb Startup QuotesGeorge Deeb is a serial entrepreneur bred from 8 years of investment banking experience and 15 years of start-up, digital management and consulting. In the most recent few years, he has consulted more than 500 start-ups as the managing partner of Red Rocket Ventures with his colleague, Jay Stocki.

Before founding Red Rocket, Deeb served as the CEO of a B2B digital technology business and was also the founder of iExplore (“an expert in the world of adventure & experiential travel”) for which he was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He is a mentor at the Chicago Founder Institute, and author of 101 Startup Lessons–An Entrepreneur’s Handbook for Executives of Aspiring Startups. His advice covers a range of topics, from strategy and marketing, to general business to fund raising and finance. Here are some of the things he has to say to those of us at the beginning of our start-up journey:

“It is critical that all involved have a deep passion for the product and fire in the belly to move at light speed to own your market. This is not a 9 to 5 job. This is a passion you are living and breathing in real time.”

“Unless you are passionate about what you are building, your start-up will most likely not survive all the potential pitfalls that come along the way. It is much easier to get frustrated and walk away from a business you are not passionate about. It is much harder to walk away from a start-up that hits you in your soft spot. And, it is that drive that every good entrepreneur needs, to get through the good times and the bad times.”

The most lucrative successes have been products that appealed to everyone and had tremendous margins.”

“Try to kill your start-up before you start. You need to poke and probe across all areas of the business, looking for holes that could lead to potential [shortfalls] in the business or which can facilitate potential moves by competitors that will impede your own efforts.”

“Age [is] less of a driver to entrepreneurial success than previous start-up and industry experience.”

The success formula that worked for him: “First, success was directly correlated with how many hours I invested in the business. Second, success was directly correlated with how passionate I was about the business. Third, success is how you define it.”

—George Deeb, Managing Partner of Red Rocket Ventures

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Logo Design News This Week (4.39)

As we do here every Friday, it’s time to take a look back at the news (big and small) from the world of logo design. Here’s what we noticed, let us know if we missed something you saw:

Tennessee Smokies Logo DesignWe’ve written this before, but we love minor league baseball in part because the teams in the minor leagues tend to have odd mascots, which leads to some pretty cool logos (like these).  This week the Tennessee Smokies got a new logo and it’s pretty cool. There are several secondary logos that are just as sweet. The Smokies are affiliated with the Chicago Cubs and the new logo (and uniforms) is intended to bring the team’s look more inline with their parent club. This is some really nice work from Studio Simon, which has done several other minor league logos.

More sports (sort-of) logo news: Oklahoma State is suing New Mexico State because they are afraid their mascot is too similar. Click the link to see just how silly this controversy is. We hope a judge throws this suit out faster than OK State can fall to third in the Big-12. We hate this kind of bullying—unless there is real infringement.

Athletics Canada Logo DesignStill more sports logo news: Athletics Canada has a new logo and it speaks two languages. The new logo features a maple leaf—what else, this is Canada, eh?—surrounded by a blue ribbon running track. This isn’t a horrible logo, but it is pretty bland. Isn’t there something besides the Maple Leaf that says Canada? No? I guess we stand corrected.

Still more… Adidas has a new sneaker featuring the new logo with Portland Trailblazer Guard Damian Lillard’s logo. You can see the logo at the link, but you can’t get the shoe until next year.

G I Joe Convention Logo Design

We’re not completely out of it. We know about Comic Con. And we know that there are various manga-themed cons as well. StarTrek? Check. But we had no idea that there was a convention themed entirely around G.I. Joe—though I suppose we should have considered the possibility considering there are even cons for Furries. The things you learn when writing about new logos. Speaking of which, the before-now-unknown-to-us G.I. Joe convention has a new logo for next year.

The Washington Redskins have been under a bit of pressure to change their name and logo. Here’s a solution that would allow them to keep the name but they’d still have to update the logo.

AirBNB Marathon Logo DesignRemember all the hate surrounding the new AirBNB logo that supposedly looked like body parts. Well, they’re sponsoring the New York City Marathon and this promotional banner is exactly the kind of thing the new logo allows the company to do. Logos that change with the occasion are the in-thing these days. Nicely done, AirBNB.

In what looks to be a rough election year, Texas Democrats are getting some unsolicited advice on changes they could make to their logo.

Shop Elburn First Logo DesignWe’re pretty critical of many of the logo designs created for small towns (see this for an example). (And for a look at the kind of bad logos small towns create, look at 849 logos on this page). But this is the kind of logo that we think can actually do something beside decorate a county police car. Shop Elburn First is a new logo created to encourage Elburn village citizens to patronize their local stores. The design itself is way too crowded, but we like it because it has one job—to encourage shopping at home. More small towns ought to think this way, instead of trying to make their communities look like the major tourist destinations that they aren’t.

A logo design that we love: Signature Golf. Seriously click the link and look at the logo. A pen. A golf ball on a tee. Perfect. Via Brand New.

Christopher Wren Logo DesignAnd, as usual, we wrap things up with the latest Google logo. We love this logo celebrating London architect Christoper Wren’s 382nd birthday. He was responsible for the rebuilding of much of London after the city’s devastating fire in 1666, including more than 50 churches, the amazing St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Wren Library at Trinity College in Cambridge. Well done, Google.

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

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How to Make a Logo

We’ve written extensively about what makes a good logo, whether you should design your own logo, and whether you even need a logo design in the first place. If you’ve missed any of those articles, take a few minutes to catch up and read them now.

So if you’ve decided you do need one, here’s how to make a logo.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options. We’re going to tell you how to use our logo design software to do it in a minute. But first, here are the other options.

1. You can hire a design shop or advertising agency.
You’ve seen Mad Men right? Once upon a time when companies of any size needed design work to support their brands, they called men like Don Draper to do the work. These advertising and design gurus would put together a few ideas, mount them on presentation boards, then sit with you in a conference room and talk through their ideas and thinking. Actually, some still do this.

Working with a design agency is a very good way to get a few good design ideas. Ad Agencies pay professional designers big salaries to create attractive logos and sell them to their customers. And if you have $5000-$10,000 or more, it may be a good option for you.

Freelance-Graphic-Designer2. You can hire a freelance designer.
Often times hiring a big agency (or even a small agency) just isn’t possible. Maybe you don’t have the budget, or several weeks for them to do the work. Lucky for you, there’s another option. You can contact a freelance designer. That’s how Nike’s Phil Knight made his swoosh logo.

There are literally thousands of designers (some very good, others less so) who know how to make a logo and are willing to work with you. When done right, they’ll meet with you, discuss your expectations and needs, sketch several designs (the more work they do, the more they charge), and walk you through their thinking. Then, they’ll work on revisions and deliver something that meets your needs.

For many small businesses, this can be a good option. But again, you’ll need some money to get the design you are after—project rates tend to start around $200 and go up into the thousands, depending on experience and how much work they do. And, you’ll need to do your homework. Some freelancers put up websites without any real experience. Buyer beware.

3. You can hold a logo design contest.
Okay, we mention this only because you’ll see these sites online, but honestly, they are not a good option for most small businesses. These websites promise to send your project to dozens or even hundreds of designers to make a logo so you have hundreds of designs to choose from.

So what’s not to like? Well, it is well-documented that these sites don’t pay the designers who create the bulk of the options you are presented with. Only the winning designer gets paid. Experienced designers don’t work for free. And that creates an incentive for inexperienced designers to post plagiarized work, or to spend very little time on the designs they create. If you choose to create a logo using a contest site, be very careful. We don’t recommend it. The better option is to…

Do-It-Yourself Logo4. Here’s how to make a logo yourself with an online logo design application.
First, let us say upfront, we have a bias here. We believe that our logo maker software is the best option for many people just getting started in business. If you’re not sure if a do-it-yourself logo is right for you, read this, then decide.

Why consider making your own logo? A few reasons: You can do it in as little as seven minutes. You have thousands of icon options to choose from (far more than you can get working with an agency, designer, or contest site). And you call the shots. Perhaps most importantly, using our software, you can design up to six different logos for free (you only pay if you decide to download high-resolution files).

In fact, while you might ultimately decide to hire a freelance designer or an agency to create your logo, why not try to make a logo on your own first? If you don’t like the results, then go to one of the other options.

What it takes to make a logo with the Logomaker application.

First, before you begin, you need to have an idea of what you want to create. You could just launch the Logomaker application and play around, but if you know what you are after, you’ll save a bit of time and effort creating your logo. We have a free Beginner’s Guide to Logo Design that you can download here that will help you think through the process. Or you can read the guide online here.

Once you know what you want to create, the next step is to launch the online logo builder. (That last link will do it for you.)

Logomaker Start ScreenOnce you’ve opened the application, you’ll see more than 30 different categories of businesses to choose from. If your business fits into one of these categories, click it. If not, enter a word or two in the search box to see icons related to your business.

Now you’ll see dozens or even hundreds of professionally designed icons that you can choose from. We have nearly 10,000 to choose from, so the results that match your search may be displayed on several pages. Pick the one you like best.

Next you can add up to two lines of text. And you can arrange them any way you want as you make your logo. Then you can add colors by picking them from our palette. The number at the top tells you the HTML code for the color you pick so you can match it to other parts of your logo (or to your website).

Lastly, you can rotate, flip, and arrange the elements of your logo in any way that makes sense. Then click save. It’s that easy.

It may not seem like it at first, but knowing how to make a logo takes less effort (and money) than you might believe. Try the Logomaker app (or one of the other online apps like it) and see what you come up with. If that doesn’t work, find an experienced designer who can customize a design for your business. One way or the other, you’ll end up with a logo you can love. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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8 Quotes for Startups from Co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann.

Ben Silberman StartupThat cork bulletin board that used to hang on the wall of your 1980s bedroom has gone virtual. Now you pin your identity to not one, but dozens of boards labeled according to content: 342 examples of your ideal wedding ring, the best recipe for crock-pot chicken and cute dessert ideas, the wish list of travel destinations (you’ll never be able to afford), and an eternal library of “life hacks to remember” that you’ll never remember when you need them. And for all this, we have Ben Silbermann to thank!

The Des Moines native grew up and attended MIT and then Yale which probably didn’t hurt his chances of landing a job at Google as an online ad-man. Silbermann admits he has always been a collector of things, and he was able to take that simple enjoyment of collecting bugs and stamps and turn that into a successful startup of technological relevance in today’s smartphone app-obsessed market. That’s what we call entrepreneurial genius. Silbermann’s start-up got $128 million in its first big batch of funding and is now worth $5 billion. It took his team a while to find the winning formula of using grid-formatted bulletin boards, but the highly visual and highly segmented collection of lifestyle is a user’s and marketer’s dream. Here are a few things he has said that might inspire other entrepreneurs—or that you might want to pin on your own bulletin board:

On being an entrepreneur: “It takes time to figure out how to not go to your job in the morning. All of a sudden you have a lot of time and no structure.”

“Really great people, they actually want to work on hard problems… a lot of the most talented and driven people, they’re not super deterred by failure.”

“There’s a lot of pressure to look like the last company that was successful.”

“If Google teaches you anything, it’s that small ideas can be big.”

“I think anyone who makes products has this simultaneous joy and, almost, shame looking at it. You look at it all day and all you can see is all these things you want to make better.”

“The companies that I really admire the most are the ones that have a deep visceral understanding of why people use their service, and they figure out ways of making money that are completely consistent with how people are feeling and what they are doing at the time.”

“We just felt like if every day we were getting a little bit closer to something that we would be really proud of, we would never regret the time we’d invested.”

And ironically: “Don’t take too much advice.”

—Ben Silbermann, Co-founder & CEO of Pinterest

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Logo Design News This Week (4.38)

Another Friday means another look back at the past week’s news from the world of logo design. Here’s what we saw. Let us know if we missed anything:

New Boomerang Logo DesignTelevision is a target rich environment when it comes to new logos. With the thousands of TV stations around the world, it’s a good bet that we’ll see a new logo about once a week, if not more. This week we saw a new logo for kid station, Boomerang. And while the new logo is okay, we prefer the older logo (both the US and international versions) which seem to have more character. The new logo design reads a bit like a computer chip. The new type isn’t as interesting and some of the lettering is just plain bad (the R and the break in the type). This branding redo is a miss.

Sportsgrid points to this designer’s portfolio that reimagines all of the NBA logos using the brand new MLS logo template. Not mind-blowing, but cool none-the-less.

Salesforce Logo DesignCloud computing pioneer, Salesforce, has a new logo design. The new design preserves the familiar cloud shape, but ditches the old font and the white reflective cloudiness. The new logo is definitely an improvement, but we prefer the older font which just feels a little more unique to us. Overall, it’s a stronger, more memorable mark.

Is the new Saturday Night Live logo inspired by Woody Allen’s Manhatten?

Coeur d'Alene Logo DesignIt’s been a while since we wrote about the futility of small town branding or since we poked fun at a poorly designed logo for a municipality that simply doesn’t have the budget to advertise the logo in a way that might make a difference. So let’s do that now. Coeur d’Alene Idaho has a new logo that looks like dozens of other small towns across America. In its favor is the graphic depiction of the lake, mountains and nature which Coeur d’Alene has in spades. But bad typography (seriously—a hash mark?) and a logo that looks like so many others? Meh.

Hey, here’s another new small town logo that we could have said the same thing about.

Hannah Arendt Google Logo DesignNo new Google logos in the USA this week, but we did see this logo celebrating German political theorist, Hannah Arendt’s 108th birthday. This logo was shown in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America, but not North America.

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The Color Red Won’t Make You Hungry. Unless You’re a Fish.

No doubt you’ve seen one of the dozens of infographics floating around the Internet that shows the meanings of the colors. Green means natural (or money). Black means luxury (or death). And so on.

In fact, you’ve almost certainly seen more than one. We found about 15 in just three minutes on Pinterest. Stuff like these three examples:

The Color Red MeaningMeaning of the Color Red

What Red Means








It’s interesting information.

And it’s probably completely wrong.

Take this example: almost all of these infographics talk about how the color red “encourages appetite” and that’s why it’s used in the logos of so many restaurant chains.

Just don’t tell the restaurants that don’t use red in their logos, like Subway, the second largest chain restaurant in the US. Or Starbucks (#3). Or Taco Bell (#6). Or Duncan Donuts (#7). Or Applebee’s (#10).

But they don’t need to worry. Because the whole “red stimulates the appetite” is very likely not true.

It’s not just infographics. We found similar claims on The New York Times website. And CNN. And Huffington. Heck, we’ve written about it ourselves.

We can already hear you saying, “What? But those infographics have foot notes!” Or, “If it’s in The New York Times and the Logomaker blog…”

Yeah, about that.

We spent two days looking for any kind of scientific research to back up the claim that the color red stimulates appetite.

It’s just not there. Not on Google Scholar. And not at PubMed. No where.

Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of webpages that make that claim. But most of them don’t link to any imperial data or research, and those that try, link to other webpages making the same unsupported claim. A couple of the best researched pages quote marketing books from the 80s to back them up. But those books? Yeah, we weren’t able to find any citations from research there either. Just the kind of “experts say” stuff you get from writers who don’t do their homework.

Actually, there was one exception.

This study says the color red does stimulate feeding.

Nile Tilapia Eats More in Red LightIn Nile Tilapia fish.

Interestingly, the fish study also says that the color red stimulates appetite in humans and attributes that to a paper written by S. Singh. But that paper found here is a dead end. It makes the claim, but doesn’t back it up. No research, no links to research. Nothing.

In fact, there is some scientific research that indicates the opposite: red may actually inhibit feeding in humans.

Check out this study (from the publication, Appetite, which probably knows a thing or two about eating) that found research participants who were served a drink in a red cup consumed less than people served a drink in a blue or white cup. They also ate less snack food when served on a red plate than on a blue or white plate.

How can that be if red stimulates appetite?

This isn’t the only thing scientists have learned about the color red and human behavior.

In another study, participants who were given a choice between a pen shown against a red background and the same pen shown against a blue background. People had a more positive attitude toward buying the pen shown with blue. Not red.

In a more disturbing study, job candidates wearing red were thought to be less intelligent than candidates wearing green. A follow-up found that job candidates wearing red ties (as opposed to blue) were thought to have less leadership ability. (Metal note: give my red ties to goodwill).

Taken together, these studies seem to indicate that the color red has an inhibiting effect on human behavior in general. You know, kind of like a stop sign.

So What Does This Tell Us About Color and Logo Design?

Absolutely nothing.

Taking about color outside of the context that the color is used is practically useless. There is a huge difference between how a person responds to a red car, a red dress, a red sign, and a red logo. Color psychology and response is entirely dependent on the context a color is used in.

Take a look at several red logos: Avis. Target. Levis.

Red Avis Logo Design

Target Logo Design


Levis Logo Design





Does seeing those make you hungry? Of course not. Because you probably don’t connect these logos to situations where you consume food.

But these red logos might make you crave something: Coke. KFC. Dairy Queen. Heinz.

KFC Logo Design

Dairy Queen Logo DesignHeinz Logo Design




The difference is that you encounter these logos in situations where food is consumed. If you’ve had a positive experience with these brands, they may trigger an “I’d love a blizzard and fries right about now” kind of response. But it has very little to do with the color red.

Color meaning is situational.

Seeing a brand new red restaurant logo isn’t likely to make you hungry (at least until you connect it to a positive eating experience). And it probably won’t raise your heart rate. But it might catch your attention—especially if the red stands out from the surrounding environment. That’s what red does best.

So you can probably forget those color psychology posters and recommendations. Including ours. When it comes to color, a lot of what’s said is conjecture or just plain wrong.


Posted in Advice, Branding, Color, Logos, Marketing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

10 Quotes to Inspire your Start-up from Start-up Wizard, Jason Saltzman

Jason Saltzman Startup QuotesJason Saltzman is a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of AlleyNYC. This, his latest start-up, capitalizes on his experience as a serial entrepreneur who understands the needs of launching a new business. AlleyNYC is an environment of shared workspace for developers, designers and entrepreneurs, creating an ideal ecosystem for success. The concept is completely tailored to giving start-ups an affordable place to work with opportunities and access to like-minded people, law resources, venture capitalists, angel investors and more. It even offers virtual membership options for start-ups that want access to the supplemental resources but don’t live in New York City.

Saltzman’s background is in sales and marketing and he serves as a mentor and subject matter expert in his field. He is an Entrepreneur Magazine contributor and a member of the U.S. Department’s Speaker and Specialist Program. This year he traveled to Kuwait City as part of a grant for the Speaker and Specialist Program where he presented a seminar on entrepreneurship to a nation where nearly all jobs are in the government sector. He is passionate about technology, networking, and educating others through sharing his own insights. Here is his advice for your start-up:

“The most common trait in aspiring entrepreneurs is passion. If you are not making money, you need passion to get you through those sleepless nights. You have to want to solve an issue that you truly believe in.”

“The most successful entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are the biggest gamblers. You have to be willing to sit at the most expensive blackjack table on the planet, with all your money on one hand, and say, ‘HIT ME.’”

“Most entrepreneurs see a problem and want to solve it. We walk through a business or use a service and automatically start thinking of how we can make things better. We are not backseat drivers — we actually do something if the problem we see has scale and we think we can solve it.”

“I have seen people quit to start a new business without any startup experience, and it works out. In this case, having a deep understanding of the pain point and a practical way of solving it is all one needs to start a successful company.”

“I believe the quicker that you accept failure as a lesson, the closer you are to success.”

“Life is way too fast and short to not be motivated. If you are thinking about doing something, or if you want to push your business to the next level, do it now. With every second that goes by you should be thinking about what you want out of life and then you should take action to get it done.”

“You want the money and you want it yesterday. In order to make the right decision for your business, you must be methodical in your approach. This is one of the biggest things that will ever happen for you and your business. Stay calm, cool, and collected.”

“The right representation is crucial. This is not just a lawyer, but a consigliore who is going to help guide you through the process…A good lawyer will not just look at the risk. He/she will guide you to a palatable deal.”

“You should profile who you want to be your investor—not so much who the person is, but what they look like on paper. Profile them. An entrepreneur who sold her company for millions of dollars, a real estate tycoon, a grocery store chain owner, etc. Target your demographic properly and your investor will not only write you a check, they will be the best advisors ever.”

“A good mentor is key, but especially when you are raising funds.”

—Jason Saltzman, serial entrepreneur and CEO of AlleyNYC

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Logo Design News This Week (4.37)

TGIF, right? Friday around here means it’s time to take a look back at the news from the world of logo design. Here’s what we noticed:

Nasdaq Logo DesignOddly we saw a couple of new financial logos this week. The first was a new logo design for the NASDAQ stock exchange, features a ticker tape N. The company has been known as NASDAQ-OMX since a merger in 2007 created one of the USA’s largest exchanges. The new brand drops the OMX and comes with a rather bland tagline: Ignite Your Ambition. The other new financial logo is this one for MarketWatch.

Honest Tea gets a logo makeover.

Columbus Crew SC Logo DesignThe Columbus Crew—who some think have the worst logo in Major League Soccerupdated their look this past week. They also got a new name, adding SC for Soccer Club as opposed the FC for football club used by English teams. The new logo, which is more like a traditional round patch used in the German Bundesliga, is a huge improvement over the old look. Former player and current brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk appears to approve of the new look. Lots of others do too.

The Crew aren’t the only new sports logo this week. Australian “footy” team, The Western Bulldogs, have a new logo. And so do the Triple A baseball team the Nashville Sounds. And the Breeder’s Cup unveiled their new logo design, an annual occurrence.

Because its baseball playoff season, here’s a look at the logo histories of the teams that are/were in the playoffs this year.

Daredevil Logo DesignLong ago Marvel released a movie based on their Daredevil comic book (starring soon-to-be Batman Ben Affleck). It wasn’t particularly good, which is a shame because the characters in the book, like blind lawyer Matt Murdock, are pretty good. No sequels were ever made, but the franchise is moving to Netflix for May 2015. This week we got a look at the logo design, which is exactly what fans of the comics would expect.

The National LGBTQ task force has a new logo.

KSwiss Logo DesginTennis shoe maker, K Swiss, updated their logo design but many fans may not even notice, despite some pretty significant changes. They’ve thinned out the shield just a touch, removed the border lines, and dropped the brand name from the top of the shield to underneath the mark (or in the horizontal version, to the right). But the big difference is the direction of the stripes which now move up instead of down.

UKIP takes a lot of criticism for their political positions. And reasonable people can disagree about the rightness or wrongness of those positions. But no one can disagree with this critique of their logo which communicates “a spirit of hung-ho crapness.”

Museum of the Bible Logo DesignWe kind of like the quadruple entendres in the new logo for the Museum of the Bible. Is it a B (for Bible), or the ten commandments? Or is it the pages of an open book? Or maybe an M (for museum) underscored? Whatever it is, we’re guessing that the not yet opened museum will be interpreted in as many ways as the logo.

Google Heyerdahl Logo DesignNot sure why we didn’t see this logo in the United States, given his popularity during the 70s, but Thor Heyerdahl’s 100th birthday was the occasion for this new Google logo. Heyerdahl was famous for crossing the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft called the Kon-Tiki. This is a cool doodle.

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


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Bad Design Advice You Can Safely Ignore

Bad Design AdviceThis is going to sound like we’re picking a fight.

We’re not.

First, let me say, we love designers. We’ve worked with hundreds of them. They are some of the most talented people in the world. They make work fun and interesting. And they created every one of the 10,000 icons in our logo design software.

But we have to disagree with some potentially bad design advice passed on by our friends at They linked to a short video of designer Melanie Spring who offers the following advice to people starting a new business:

“…particularly businesses get the logo wrong. When they start their business, they just throw up something just to have something. And one thing I try to tell all business owners is if you are going to put any money anywhere, put it into your logo because a really good logo on a white sheet of paper or a white website will look really, really good and it’ll stand the test of time as you’re growing. You can refine it and change it, but being able to put that money into that logo piece, if nothing else, will be able to get you launched a lot quicker than if you just try to throw your money in lots of little places.”

We suppose that if your marketing plan consists entirely of showing people how good your logo looks on a white sheet of paper, this is good advice.

But if your plan for finding customers is a bit more complex, then this may be very bad design advice.

Allow us to explain.

Having a logo doesn’t launch your business. No matter how good your logo is, if you don’t have a plan and the money to get your product or service in front of your customers, your logo is worthless.

A new business owner needs to spend money on the things that get the product or service in front of potential customers. A logo doesn’t do this.

But the reason this is bad advice comes down to money.

A few years ago, when we worked for Hewlett-Packard, we saw lots of research about the courageous men and women who start their own businesses and how much money they had to do it.

The typical person starting a new business is not wealthy. They don’t have venture funding. Many don’t even qualify for an SBA loan. Instead, they drain their savings, take out a second mortgage, or borrow from family. Often they put everything on a credit card.

They live on ramen (or cheesy mac) just to make ends meet while they put all of their money into their new venture.

On average, they have about $500 to spend on marketing. Including the logo.

We’re pretty sure you can’t get a logo design from Ms. Spring’s shop for that.

And that $500 also has to buy business cards and a website. It’s not enough, to be sure, but to recommend spending it all on a logo is just wrong. Better to start with a “good enough” logo design until you know your business is going to succeed.

Of course there are exceptions:

• If your new business needs a trendy retail location—like a restaurant or a bar—you need to spend more on the logo and look of your store (called environmental graphics). $500 is probably not enough to start this type of business.

• If you are well-funded and have thousands of dollars to put into your marketing plan, then by all means, spend a few thousand on a custom logo that will grow with your business.

• If your new business is arts or design related, then you should spend more on your logo to reflect that.

But, if you don’t know yet if your business will succeed, or you’re just trying to get off the ground with a tiny budget, you’re much better off with a low-cost or do-it-yourself logo design for something like $49.

After you’ve proven the idea, if your logo needs updating, then “refine it” or “change it” as Ms. Spring advises.

Until then, you’ve got more important things to spend your money on.


Note: Just to be clear, we would bet that Ms. Spring is not advising businesses with small budgets to blow it all on a logo. She is likely talking to well-funded ventures who can afford the kind of services her firm offers. But the way she said what she says above doesn’t make this clear. Our customers are more like the under-funded go-getters who are willing to take the risks to start a business, for whom this would be bad advice. Hence today’s post. And if you have $400-500 budgeted for a custom logo, you could do worse than contact the guys at

Photo credit: laughlin via photopin cc

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