Published in


Logo Hunting: 3 Steps to Target & Catch Your Biggest Customer Logos

This post is written by Matthew Ziskie, Co-Founder & General Partner at Bungalow Capital. Matt previously led Procurement teams at Genentech, Box, and Airbnb.

A staple on the front page of any software startup website is an assembly of impressive customer logos. Their purpose is obvious and important: if these industry giants trust my company…so should you.

Despite their importance of signaling strong social proof, how these logos wind up on a startup’s website is usually far less strategic. Oftentimes, startups will use a logo without permission (don’t ever do this). Sometimes startups will run a freemium service and will list a self sign up with a company’s .com as a “customer” (also not cool). Most often though, logos are obtained through a quarter end scramble of Sales and Customer Success teams emailing their top clients and asking for permission to use their logo.

For a number of reasons, I would argue these logo hunting processes are broken and should no longer be practiced.

The biggest fault of these practices is that they fail to acknowledge the importance of your customers’ logo, brand, IP, etc. For these customers, letting a third party use their logo is incredibly risky. So, starting from a basic understanding of what they need in order to feel comfortable lending their logo will immediately place you on better footing for success.

Despite this risk, companies do allow for logo use. Generally, they are motivated to do this by three factors:

  1. Financial (customer is given discounts in exchange for logo use)
  2. PR (customer is drafting off supplier/partner logo due to initiative or new product)
  3. Reciprocity (customer has acknowledged the amount of value driven by vendor and are motivated to help in return)

While it is certainly possible to have moments of success with strategies #1 and #2, they are not sustainable and miss the larger opportunity to align with your customers on the value you bring to their business. Instead, work to build a process and culture that can continually secure logo rights, but also be deliberate and targeted. It’s important to be strategic in what logos you pursue as not all logos carry the same weight. Make sure each logo has a compelling use case that you can speak to in depth in future sales pitches. Be aware what logos your competitors have and make sure to diversify yours if and where possible to help showcase the advantages of your product in the market.

When done right, this means managing an entirely new opportunity funnel of ‘logo targets’. Each company should design a process that works best for them, but at its core the key steps are as follows:

  1. Quantify your value add
  2. Map your organizational support
  3. Develop your proposal

Step 1: Define Where You Add Value

If you can’t quantify how much value you’ve driven for a customer, then you should not be asking to use something as important as their logo. The most important step in securing logo rights is quantifying the value captured by your product or service (this could be cost savings, process improvements, etc). Once you have an understanding of what that quantified value is, the next step is to get acknowledgement from your customers. This can be done via monthly reporting or quarterly reviews, but being aligned on the value being delivered will help set you up for success. Don’t assume your customer knows how much your service means to their business — always be confirming.

Step 2: Map Who Knows & Who Should Know About Your Value Add

As a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to assume that even with a champion and documented value to the organization that their first response to logo use will be “no”. This is why it’s important to map and develop support throughout the organization. It’s easy for Legal or Communications to say “no” to one stakeholder, but it gets considerably more difficult to say “no” to multiple stakeholders advocating for a startup, even more so if there are executive voices among the group. One simple way to do this is by building your own organization chart of your key customers and noting where you have strong, weak, or even no relationships.

Once you have quantified the value delivered and mapped out where you have consistent support throughout the organization, you are in a position to develop a proposal. However, do not rush this…it takes time to build support within an organization.

Step 3: Make Your Ask

The right ‘ask’ will be largely driven by the dynamics of the relationship between your customers (the buyer) and you / your sales team (the seller). Although I have noticed a few consistent and successful behaviors over the years:

  • Don’t rush: Legal teams will not be motivated by your product launch or press event. When possible, do not time box this request.
  • Define your use case: Don’t ask for unlimited logo use (no one will agree anyway and it will waste time). Instead, state specifically where and for how long you’d like to use the logo (ie. on a website and whitepaper).
  • Don’t be put off by “no”: Legal departments are trained to say “no” to this request. This is the norm. Getting a “no” to your first or second ask is an opportunity to drive more value to your customers.
  • Don’t take it personally: See above. Their job is to say “no.”
  • Don’t discount: I don’t think it’s helpful to tie the value of your product to the use of a logo. Get rights based on the value your product delivers, not via a discount.
  • Happy logo hunting!

Even in the most fruitful startup-customer relationships, securing logo rights is really difficult. In order to do it effectively, be patient and build a deliberate process around it. While this process (like any other) will need to be revisited and iterated upon over time, especially as your company scales, startups who understand this will be more successful over time at securing logo rights from their top customers.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store