If you’ve ever walked around downtown San Francisco on a work day — in the last decade, at least — you’ve probably seen the surreal “Battle Royale”-esque scene among local startups. Thousands of shirts, hats, backpacks and lunchboxes repping their brand’s respective logos … the sense that an all-out deathmatch could unfold at any minute of the lunch break.
And it would forever be known as: LogoMania!
Competition is cutthroat, particularly among tech companies, and it grows fiercer by the second. For better or worse, a company’s logo is their opening maneuver in the fight for attention, customers and acceptance in the marketplace. And if you’re a small business owner on a quest for the title belt, especially in the tech scene, you’ve got to lace your boots and come prepared to the battle; you need a fitting logo for your brand.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, or even expensive. Twitter’s logo apparently only cost $15, and it helped them transform the world, rake in billions and make “Tweet” a daily word in the White House press briefings (which is still really silly, when you stop and think about it).
With basic graphic design software, you could throw together the next smash-hit logo. It can’t do your job for you, but it sure as heck can make an impression. If you’re giving consumers a store to visit, a service to frequent, an app to download or a software to use in their own business — and God forbid you have merchandise — even the tiniest logo can be huge. It tells your narrative without speaking a sound and is a time-tested way to stick in the psyches of could-be loyal customers.
The logos you know and love come from varying sources. You may go the route of external graphic design services or branding agencies to lend a hand in logo ideation and development. There’s no shame there, as some of the biggest brands in history enlisted outside help to devise “the one.” But if you prefer to attempt it in-house, there are exceptional drawing tools and vector graphics applications at your disposal.
G2 Crowd welcomes users of drawing software to write reviews about how their tool of choice helped them create unique, colorful and eye-grabbing images for use in their business. Based on reviews from G2 Crowd users on small-business teams, and their average ratings on Satisfaction questions like Ease of Use and Ease of Setup, here are some of the best logo design tools for startups.
Product Name: Sketch
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews: 424
It takes a lot of chutzpah to name your drawing tool “Sketch.” I’ve seen restaurants called “Eat” while driving through small towns, and they didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. But the Mac-based vector design app — with a who’s who of clients such as Google and NASA — provides the steak to back up that sizzle. And as a certified High Performer among small businesses, Sketch ain’t just for drawing spaceships.
Sketch provides a complete toolkit for creating new graphics in a quick, intuitive little package. It’s an ever-expanding toolkit as well, thanks to the sweet expansions from the product’s developer community. The “Symbols” feature is also incredibly handy for logo design, allowing for easy saving, reuse and tweaking of custom design elements. If you draw a logo of a monster wearing a hat, for instance, you can drop it into different documents with a slightly different hat every time. Great for A/B testing or fun use cases once your logo is complete. (We’re just giving away ideas here, people.)
For a startup looking to dive right in with logo design, Sketch’s user-friendliness is a huge draw. In a five-star Sketch review, Adaoha S. wrote, “I love the simplicity of Sketch and how easy it is to learn. I love the community behind it and all the support and plugins.” You can easily snag a free trial from the Sketch website, and pricing beyond that is based on number of users or “seats,” so you can start small with the design team and go from there. Many reviewers also comment on the product’s usefulness in UX design — so you can milk this cow well past the final touches on your logo.
Product Name: ArtRage
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews: 54
ArtRage is marketed to the old-school artists looking for the home painting experience in digital form. ArtRage 5, the latest edition of this “full-featured digital painting program” from Ambient Design, offers a boatload of brush options and other realistic doodle devices such as chalk and felt pen with which to empower your resident Warhols and Kahlos. And for only $79 — complete with both Mac and Windows versions — you can go low for your logo.
Users of ArtRage can customize brushes of their own, upload and edit images to be used as stickers and blend colors and textures with the Palette Knife tool, experimenting and innovating to their heart’s content. There also is a number of “drawing aids” such as grids, image tracing and stencils that make life easier and results cleaner. You don’t need to be a master artist to click around ArtRage and come up with some worthwhile logo ideas.
In their ArtRage review, Victor S. wrote: “What I love the most about ArtRage is how easy it is for users to find every tool and use them freely in a very natural way. The way the strokes are so smooth, and how it allows you to use different mediums and textures is truly a delight and a wonderfully easy experience.”
As of Dec. 5, 2017, ArtRage has the highest Satisfaction rating in the Drawing category from small-business reviewers on G2 Crowd — so you could say it’s all the rage. These ratings include responses on a scale of 1–7 in regards to things like ease of use, quality of support and overall meeting of requirements.
Product Name: Adobe Photoshop
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews: 3,058
Product Name: Adobe Illustrator
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews: 1,136
The San Jose-based team at Adobe is no stranger to the design game. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2017, Adobe has helped countless companies — young and old alike — with their graphic design needs. Illustrator first hit the scene in 1987 and is now in its 22nd iteration. And at nearly 5 stars on G2 Crowd, the vector graphics tool clearly has gas left in the tank; it offers everything from freehand drawings to vivid custom typography, all at a starting price of only $40.
In a recent Adobe Illustrator review (Dec. 5, 2017), Aaron H. raved about the product’s logo-bilities. When asked what business problems they were solving, they wrote: “Logos. In almost any case you can think of: Recreating, live tracing, making from scratch and adjusting.”
Aaron, like many of Illustrator’s worldwide user base, uses the software for a list of tasks.
“The sheer volume that is capable of this program astounds even me and I’ve been using this program since 2009. The ability to create, to adjust, to layout, and to even edit. I’ve used Illustrator for logos, adverts, websites, motion graphics, newsletters, brochures, stickers, buttons, t-shirts, posters, signs (larger and small) and even once — a hoodie for a dog. I always recommend using other programs like InDesign and Photoshop in tandem, but my main program is Illustrator.”
Though primarily a photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop is oft-cited as an obvious choice for logo design. The platform, also approaching its 30-year mark, does a whole mess of cool stuff (in 26 languages, no less). As described by the product’s website, users can “Create and enhance photographs, illustrations, and 3D artwork. Design websites and mobile apps. Edit videos, simulate real-life paintings, and more. It’s everything you need to make any idea real.”
On G2 Crowd, Photoshop is the far-and-away No. 1 Leader in the photo editing category, both among small-business reviewers and overall. But reviewers are quick to point out its utility beyond red-eye reduction and meme creation.
Valeria M., in a five-star Adobe Photoshop review, wrote: “This is by far the most complete product I’ve used because I can add a white canvas space with ease, and after that I can add as many layers as I want, in order to create new amazing images without the need to change all the parts I don’t want of that design. I also love that this software helps me align everything inside my design with its integrated rulers. So, in summary, this is the best software you can use to design and create illustrations and images.”
These Adobe products might be the first and last design tools for many a startup in their logo-making voyage. You don’t need to be a sleuth to see why.
If these featured products don’t catch your fancy, you may consider one of these other well-reviewed design products to help with creating the dream logo design for your startup.
|Product||No. of Reviews||G2 Crowd Star Rating|
|Sketchbook||67||4.4 out of 5|
|Inkscape||124||4.3 out of 5|
|CorelDRAW||106||4.0 out of 5|
|Affinity Designer||34||4.7 out of 5|
LogoMania is well underway, and your startup entered the ring on its first day of business — whether you realized it or not. As Fortune put it in June 2017, logos have become “the most important quarter-inch in business,” something that customers now take with them and build an intimate relationship with. A memorable logo is one common thread in today’s biggest startups, and you’ll need to dress for the occasion if you want to put up a fight. Fortunately, some of the same logo creation tools used by billion-dollar businesses are readily available to you, and for a price that won’t make your logo a no-go.
Explore all your in-house graphic design options on G2 Crowd, see what fellow users are saying and reach out to vendors for demo or pricing information. Keep in mind that you can draw up a great logo on relatively simple software; the real magic is in the idea.
* Please note: Reviews have been edited for spelling and grammar.