We've talked in the past about the real cost of website design and the areas you shouldn't skimp on when designing your website. Your logo is another place where you should spend money to hire a professional.
Here are four things to keep in mind:
Logos should be simple and unique. They are a representation of your brand and should be recognizable without a tagline or name attached to them. Think about the Apple logo its simple no words. This is easier said than done, but when designing think about how your brand may evolve and take out any text that may not be relevant down the line. You want to design for longevity and not just to satisfy the now.
Many studies have been done about the impact of color on perception. You've probably noticed themes in your every day life. From the color of the walls in your office to the marketing materials you receive in the mail. Large companies understand this and play to the emotion. Retailers are notorious for their branding tactics; Target's red logo conveys excitement, Wal-Mart's blue logo conveys competence, while L.L. Bean's green logo conveys honesty and trust. If you want to convey sincerity think about adding white, sophistication go for black or pink.
In any case, speak with your graphic designer about what your company stands for and what colors would help convey the message at a glance, and don't be surprised if the colors differ from what you originally envisioned.
Size & Aspect
Your logo needs to look great no matter where it is. This is why your aspect ratio is essential to a great design. If it is too tall or too wide you wont be able to scale it onto promotional items like business cards, t-shirts or flyers without distorting the image. There is no magic ratio for a logo design, but while you are going through the process you should see it in multiple sizes and test how it will fit in different areas.
This is a big one that many companies overlook and goes hand in hand with color and text. If you choose a four-color version with lots of text versus a two-color simplistic logo, you can expect the cost of reproducing the logo to be higher on print materials. It may not seem like a big deal when you are just starting out, but think about a company like Nike that produces 120 million pairs of shoes each year. For one pair of shoes their logo is reproduced approximately 6 times; once on each shoe and three times on the box, plus the sales tag. That equates to 720 million logos just for their shoes alone!
Your logo should portray your essence at a glance and be highly recognizable to your target audience. It may take you multiple tries to get it right, but going through the process will be worth it in the end.