Design and UX November 6, 2020

What is the indie hacker version of getting a logo?

Ryan Nordyke @ryannordyke

I've been reading and writing more and more how indie hackers think about logo and brand design differently.

For instance, @NathanBarry did not have a logo for ConvertKit for the first 2.5 years of the business. He called it, "things I didn't waste time on." @tylertringas wrote about not needing a full-on, expensive logo design in the Micro SaaS Ebook (https://tylertringas.com/micro-saas-ebook/ ) stating that "all you want to to do with launch branding is reassure people that this is not a scam.

What are others doing for their logo or brand design to keep things simple? Are you designing it yourself? Did you use a service or designer? What are some tips you've discovered along the way?

FYI: I'm not selling design services. I'm curious and this is research for me.

  1. 5

    I don’t like spending much time on logos but having one is useful for social media avatars, product pages and just having a general brand identity even if temporary.

    So what I do is I go to fonts.google.com, type in the initial(s) of my product name, and then pick a nice font for those initials. Takes 5 minutes to create a temporary logo until there is a real reason to invest time/money in creating one.

    Farez

    1. 2

      You're going to love this little free tool then: https://formito.com/tools/logo

      1. 1

        Awesome. Super easy and simple.

        Thanks for sharing

      2. 1

        😱Yes! This is exactly what anyone starting out needs. Super easy and quick. Thx for sharing

      3. 1

        This is exactly what I did. But I just used Google's font browser :). This tool looks so useful though.

    2. 1

      I like your term "temporary logo." That's my line of thinking as well, but I don't know if I've used that line before. The Markfolder logo is super solid. Is that a DIY logo as well? Also, did you start the way you mentioned above and evolve into this?

      1. 2

        I stumbled upon the Markfolder by chance. Markfolder is a bookmarking tool so I was looking at the typical bookmark icon one day and then realised that if I turned it upside down, it becomes the letter M! So that's how it become the logo :)

        But yeah, before I got that logo, it was just a letter M using a Google font. (No idea how to attach an image here or I can show it to you).

  2. 4

    for makesales.io we didn't have one for the longest time and by that I mean, my co-founder (CTO) did a text one in 20 seconds. Too funny cause the only "fight" we had him and in was over logo, I wanted to have a cool one and he didn't want to spend time on it. We did 4 months without one and then I met @dagorenouf and used https://www.logology.co/ and voilà, came up with a logo that my CTO liked in 12 minutes, we plan on keeping it for a while

  3. 4

    Hey Ryan,

    For the cover designs of my first book, I used Canva (btw: affiliate link — you and I both get a Canva credit if you use it). I used it because it was quick and free; the TLDR is I announced I was writing a book, and spent 24 hours getting a site up with pre-order links and needed a quick cover, so I created one. For my personal logo, I was using a logo I hired a designer to create for me years ago.

    This time around, I've done things differently. I announced my coaching program DevRel CMS, and for that I hired a designer on Fiverr that specialized in quirky logos. I also hired a designer on Fiverr (affiliate link: you get 20% off your first order when you sign up) to design my personal logo. I already had experience hiring editors on Fiverr and was really happy with the service. But yes, I only started thinking about branding after my business started to take off.

    Something to note: a lot of folks associate Fiverr with cheap quality because there are many freelancers who charge low rates, but you will find plenty of freelancers who charge competitive rates and offer EXCELLENT quality. I take my time conducting research and reading reviews, looking through portfolios, before hiring someone on the service.

    1. 1

      Brilliant. The DevRelCMS anime coach logo is great. And yes, Fiverr gets a lot of criticism, but like any marketplace there are good and bad apples. Thx for sharing tips on how to better use Fiverr.

  4. 2

    In the era of artificial intelligence before looking for a designer to design a logo for me i looked for tool that is AI powered and can help me creating logo on my own, After multiple reads and research the tool that actually worked for me is deisgnhill logo maker (for other help here is link - https://www.designhill.com/tools/logo-maker) this tool actually did good job and i got my desire logo. i personally feel that one should try this tool, Its worthy

    1. 1

      Thx for the suggestion. I have not tried Design Hill, I'll have to check it out.

  5. 2

    I had professional logos created for my Alexa skill business, as I saw it as an effective way to differentiate my apps from others, so at least to get users to try them.

    I was not making money at the time but got a lot of organic traffic quickly. It was cheaper than advertising and pretty useful. I was able to grow my business from 0 to 2000 paid users in a year organically and contribute a fair amount of that to having attractive logos.

    1. 2

      I see what you mean. Doing a quick search for sleep under Alexa skills, and most of the competition is trite iconography. Relaxing Sleep Sounds immediately looks more polished and professional. What a crowded space, and congrats on the good luck.

      1. 2

        Thanks! Luck is the #1 contributor to my success so far :) I'm admittedly a sub-par programmer and have no experience with SEO/marketing. Still, things are continuing to grow one way or another!

  6. 2

    I recently made one for a side-product I am working on. Logo is not a waste of time at all. It's not mandatory but it always comes to what are your design standards :) For me it's important to have a visual identity and a symbol. It doesn't have to be the best of course but I strongly believe into the idea of having one.

    One thing to note is that this really depends on the market you are into. Convertkit is a SaaS tool for creators. It's a b2b product solving business problems. This market usually doesn't need lots of branding work.

    In my case I am building a marketplace where you can find a roommate to stay with, in the Netherlands. My goal is to reinvent how you search for a room, and build something different compared to the real estate websites that already exist.

    Branding is crucial cause it's a b2c product and it's a marketplace which means people need to trust us, and relate to our brand aesthetics and values.

    The marketplace is called homies and it has to be designed for milenials and use their tone of voice and style. Here is a prototype where you can see the logo as well https://framer.com/share/Homies-app--9UZJNIigvCUc5WfA8lXo/xbTSA22xE?fullscreen=1#OPt67i3UK

    The process I followed was to search for "fist bump logo" cause the fist bump gesture is really connected to the homies vibe as well. It was an idea I came up with in 10mins and I just copied some of the icons I found online :)

    https://www.google.com/search?q=fist+bump+logo&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwi7prXs4tnsAhUJ2aQKHSDtCswQ2-cCegQIABAA

    So the TLDR is "it depends on the product you build and the audience you focus on" 😉

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing your process. The framer prototype is solid, and love the logo and overall fun brand vibe. I noticed you didn't include the name Homies anywhere, why is that? Does this go back to wanting to lean more on the symbol?

      Your process was great. Zeroing in on a visual that represents you, and then DIY'ing to make it your own. I agree on the audience aspect. I think market and product are an interesting factor too. Sometimes there are no quick, simple, and literal visuals (ie hands fist bumping) to quickly sum up an idea. Do you think naming your product Homies helped lead to a quick logo solution?

      1. 2

        That's a good point the name is smth I should include in the header as well. My bad :D

        For your question I think that yes, homies was an easy name to design a logo for. If my name was something abstract that doesn't mean anything then it would be more complex to come up with a concept for sure.

        1. 1

          Thx again for you responses. Also, I've never had the pleasure of visiting Utrecht, but I did spend a week in Amsterdam. Beautiful and culturally rich place with wonderful people. I hope Homies is a big success for you 🤜🤛

          1. 2

            Thanks man ! :) Yeap it's lovely here I am sure you 'll love Utrecht a lot. It's similar to Amsterdam but smaller and more like a fairytale city haha

  7. 1

    Im a designer and could easily tweak vectors into oblivion ;) For Bike Gear Database I opted to purchase a few icons from The Noun Project to create a quick logo. I am happy enough - for now.

  8. 1

    I prefer to make them myself in Figma, it's not a work of art, but I enjoy making my own design.

  9. 1

    I've tried making logos myself (usually look bad). The one I did for my main site boardiesitsolutions.com is my own logo but its a pretty basic logo.

    However, for my side project that I'm wanting to sell a subscription for, Crash Catch, I used a logo designer on Fiverr.com. I think I spent around £40/£50 for the logo. Got it within a day or so of putting in the order so was pretty happy.

  10. 1

    Namecheap’s logo creator is good enough for me. Using it for https://www.usepandas.com

  11. 1

    Hey Ryan, howdy?

    I have been doing the logos myself for my side projects using Figma.

    You can see them in my bio.

    They are simple.

    1. 1

      Howdy, Michael. Figma is awesome. I've been using Sketch for so long and haven't taken the plunge just yet. But yes, these types of uncluttered vector tools are leaps and bounds easier to jump in and design a quick logo versus something as robust and bulky as Illustrator (still incredible software though).

      1. 1

        Well, that's the reason I used Figma. Illustrator is too complicated...

        In fact, without Figma, Colors &Fonts wouldn't exist.

        Sketch is a great software too.

  12. 1

    Made my first one in MS Paint LOL... Then had a professional remake in Photoshop. Just did a logo redesign and paid a lot of money to refresh the brand.

    Here's what I know about logos: no one cares unless it's bad. Open up a text editor, write the name, and choose a font. Don't worry about symbols or images right now. Just go with a font logo and move on.

    1. 1

      Completely agree. My friend's mantra in business is to "suck less." I think the same goes for logo and brand design.

      What was the turning point for you or your business that led you to go from DIY logo (in MS Paint 😂) to hiring a professional?

      1. 2

        Ha in the beginning it was just a blog, but then when the blog turned into a software company it was time to just get it cleaned up. I didn't hire anyone, but had a friend help. That lasted a long time and built an international business on that original design. Just recently (this month) did the brand refresh.

  13. 1

    I don't think it's essential, but I like having a good brand/logo.

    My Rosieland went through a couple of iterations (with a designer I've been using for years), it's been worth it, imho.

    I wasn't scared to start without a logo , but these days I think it's even more important to have a brand that stands out as so many people don't bother and keep using the same kind of illustrations on their websites.

    1. 1

      The Rosieland type and rainbow are so much fun. Was there a point in the existence of Rosieland that you went from not working with a designer on your logo/brand -> to working with a designer?

      Totally agree about the need to stand out. I like a lot of the templates and tools out there, and I connect with the look and feel of them, but at some point things feel industrialized.

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