From the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

Your logo is the very first image customers associate with your business, so you want it to hit the right note. To get the skinny on choosing a killer image, we went to Bruce Lowry, founder of Summitsoft and creator of the company's Logo Design Studio software, which guides business owners to create good logos.

Do check out common logo themes in your industry and be sure your logo fits into the fold--you want it to be unique, but not absurd. Says Lowry, "If you're a financial advisor, you're not going to have a very cartoony logo."

Don't go extreme. Extremely simple or extremely ornate are both bad--strive for a balance. Make it more exciting than the typical businessman-carries-briefcase clip art, but don't go so crazy you can't even see your business's name anymore.

Do seek opinions. Ask friends, family, former colleagues--anyone you can--what they think of a few prototypes. Is the logo clear? Does it convey the message and feel of your business?

Don't choose hastily. Your logo is your branding arm. "You need to live with it for several years," says Lowry. "As you build your business, you can't be changing it every other week."

Do use what works. Some programs (like Logo Design Studio) provide easy-to-follow templates and popular color combinations. Feel free to make modifications to your taste, but use the templates as a jumping-off point.

Don't forget legalities. You'll want to register your logo once you finish designing it, so check out the guidelines set forth by the federal government. Visit www.uspto.gov for more information.