I believe there are basically three types of people in the world. Those that are freespirit artists, those that are extremely logical, and the rest of the world. Notice I leave very little room for artists and logic people to overlap. Which is why you can probably imagine that I disagree with Paul Graham's "Hackers and Painters" philosophy. I'm sure there are definitely a handful of people that are good with both art and logic, but I havn't met one yet. Well, I fall squarely into the logic category. I can program, I can diagnose whats wrong with your car, I can fix electrical things and set a VCR. I can't draw a stick figure straight, let alone anything fancy. I actually wanted to be an artist when I was a kid, but if you've ever seen anything I've drawn you will know that was a career destined for failure. Why do I bring this up? Well event though small businesses owners tend to want to do everything themselves, sometimes you have to outsource. No, not to India, but to another company or person that has a talent you are lacking.
It's been said many times that if given a choice, a customer will buy a product that looks graphically impressive but only has 10% of the functionality any day over a program that looks thrown together but has 90% of the functionality. So looks are VERY important to most people. Especially non-technical types. We programmers tend to write very bland looking things. Google is a good example. However, it's sucess is the exception, not the norm for such a thing. I believe SearTech has both high functionality and decent looks (I've consulted with two art friends heavily during it's design).
So to make a long story short, recently we had a logo designed professionally. We chose Logo Design Creation since they were highly recommended in Wired. Their portfolio looked decent and they promised a 72 hour turnaround (!!) which I didn't need but certainly wanted to see. The good thing is that they are very impressive art wise. When they send you their ideas, they send three concepts, which you can pick one to tweak a bunch (all for only $50). All the concepts were decent, but there was one that stood out amoung them all. The bad thing was the sucess from Wired has them EXTREMELY backed up. It doesn't mention this anywhere on their website during the order process, but if you go to the contact them area, they are offering refunds and explaining the delay. Instead of 72 hours, it took about 30 days for me to receive my initial logos. I contacted them after about 8 days and they claimed email server problems. That certainly may have been the case, but if you're backed up, just be honest guys! Anyways, for the price they do really good work, and I would recommend them if you are not in a rush (or maybe wait a couple months for the hype to die down). Here is what we ended up going with:
Let me know what you think. A logo is worth getting done professionally. It will be the on the front line of your corporate identity.