I used The Logo Company, which you can find at thelogocompany.net. I`d rate them very highly, because they were in contact with me at every step of the way, they gave me unlimited chances to review and revise my potential logo before finalizing it, and when it was all done, I was happy with the logo I received. It`s hard to dock rating points for any step of the process. I`m going to post two end products out of a half dozen so that you can see if I have the taste to even give a rating. The site I`m linking is a forum I run, to the page with my photo album.
Do I believe a custom designed logo is worth the investment? Definitely. First impressions really are everything. My first impression isn`t going to be my great tasting espresso. People will have begun to judge me long before they walk in the door. My logo is the first impression. Perhaps they see it in an ad, or my sign in the front lawn - either way, it`s the first interaction with a customer, and it better be good. My consultants say that the sign in front of a coffee shop is the most important thing for bringing in customers. They specialize in cafes, so this might not be the case for everyone, but it`s the case for me. My logo is very important to me.
Have I ever used software, etc? I`m handy with Adobe Photoshop. I considered briefly, making my own logo. I think it`s better to stick to your strengths. I`m hiring a professional baker for my pastries because I can`t cook. I`m hiring a professional book keeper because I`m not good at math. I hired a professional graphic designer because I`m not a professional quality artist. That, and I was more productive sitting and making phone calls to banks and whatnot than struggling with Photoshop. I`m glad I did.
Making limitless possibilities much more limited.