I want to emphasise again, my main target audience isn't technical people. Because of this trust is a big issue, and the brands focus needs to be trust, quality and reliability, while at the same time leaning more towards abstract than literal.
Think a payment gateway firm or a law firm. Quality just short of luxury, while not being a luxury brand.
I also have a second slogan "Security, Privacy, Anonymity" that I'll be including in the copy, that sums up what my business does. You may (or may not) want to include these concepts in the brand. Since it's going to lean towards abstract it doesn't really matter.
UPDATE (10th Nov): Please don't be afraid of using serifs. Because I'm trying to push 'quality', the sharper edges may work better. Also, Colour (color) is a good thing. While I am going for an serious look, grabbing the eye would be great as well.
One last thing for where I want my brand to be; if I was a car, I'd be something like an Audi A4 (I'm in Australia, btw). Aim for branding to sell product at that level.
UPDATE (11th Nov): For the colour scheme, bold colours are better. While everyone has been going for muted colours (and that's fine), a lot of the logo's don't have a lot of impact. Going for bolder colours may address this. (or may not. You're the designers). Be Bold. I'll let you know if I don't like it. :D
UPDATE: (11th Nov night): Wow. Thanks everyone. Getting a lot of really good designs. I'll be giving everyone individual feedback over the next 10 hours or so (hopefully sooner, and including the designs I've said I'll get back to), but I just want to update my thoughts across the board here. While making a decision is going to be very hard, a couple of things have come up for me.
OK, the Shields and the Locks. A lot of people have gone for a literal type of approach, and as I'm selling what most people think of as a security product, this makes sense. Also, if you look up any of my competitors in the VPN space, most of them use this type of iconography and styling in their branding as well.
The problem is I'm looking at selling in a different way than this and them. I'm not looking to sell security. I'm selling confidence and a sense of freedom. I want to sell an emotion and a feeling, not a product (I am selling a product, but let's pretend I'm not). Because of this Abstract icons are going to work a lot LOT better than these literal ones. Don't get me wrong, some of these are really good and if I was going that way, a few of them would be getting 4 stars already.
Unfortunately I'm not. If you do a search for VPNs, go to a competitors website and it looks like it would fit in really well, then chances are it's not where I'm going. BTW: the network icons and stuff are fine, as long as they are... um.. arty??? (artistic???). I wish I could give better direction here, but I as a literal person myself, it's something I'm not good at. See the feedback after I get to yours tonight/tomorrow.
I and O: I never knew there were so many different ways to put an I into an O. Some of these are ok, some a good, and some are awesome. Just saying for anyone else coming in, I'd steer away from this, just because I've got so many of them (and some of them I really love already). Feel free to try one, but don't bet the contest on beating my favorites. (also, a lot of times these are hard to give feedback on, beyond "It just doesn't do it for me")
One last thing. Some designers are taking the logo and showing what it looks like on embossed paper, on an office wall, on a business card, etc. This is a really good idea, because I'm not looking for a logo, I'm looking for a brand.
Not being a designer, I'm not used to seeing the potential of a logo, and this really helps.If you do do this, I will still need to see the logo by itself, but if you're not doing this you might want to.
Thanks, and speak to you all some time in the next few hours.