Starting a business? Design the logo last.

The importance of validating your business before hiring a designer.

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I’m not here to tear up your napkin sketch. It’s lovely, but this is more of an exercise in strategy. I like to trust the creative process when building a brand, and although it sounds counterintuitive, try to leave the logo design for the back nine. It’s a looong golf course and we didn’t rent any carts, my friend.

The point — People think dialing in the logo early means positive progress. It gets everyone excited. But it’s a fool’s errand, and rushing to create one too soon can actually work against you. How? You force the logo to do the heavy lifting to represent an entity (your business) that isn’t quite figured out yet. I’m all for the ‘get started before you’re ready’ attitude, but better to have the blueprints signed off before you start swinging any hammers.

Some folks say — “I just need something to get me going.”

Well, that’s kind of true. You do need to get things going, but they should be the right things first — like validating your business idea, for one. You want to ask yourself questions that can help justify if there even is a buyer for what you’re selling.

Understand a few things:

  • Why are you going in to business?
  • Who are you specifically serving?
  • What makes your product different?

Simple questions. But can you answer them? Leave the passion project stuff aside for a minute, you’re tying to solve problems for people and make a profit I assume. So before we logo up the brand, know thyself (and the business of your business). Consider that the value of your logo is in direct reflection of the impact your company will make in its industry — so without knowing why your business model will succeed first, don’t fret about brand identity or logo design, YET.

To wrap up, I would start by defining the ethos of your business, answer the why, who, and what of it all, then you will have ammunition for crafting a logo and brand identity that properly represents those virtues.

Hope that sheds some light on the creative process for anyone in the early stages of starting a business.

Derek Wakeen is the Principal Designer at Wakeen Design Co., an independent design studio focused on branding for outdoor and lifestyle companies. Email him at for questions and comments on similar topics.

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Principal Designer at Wakeen Design Co.

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