Designing a Winning Logo – What Does the Research Say?


What is in a logo? A lot. Studies show that everything from the complexity, descriptiveness, and even the amount of asymmetry in a logo can have profound effects on customer perceptions, brand performance, and investor backing.

In one study, the visual complexity of a logo, defined by the ease/difficulty of processing visual cues, affected how venture capitalists perceived the overall innovativeness of startups they surveyed. That is, increased visual complexity aided in conveying many of the most fundamental things that venture backers look for - uniqueness, novelty, and originality. When your audience is on the cutting edge, it pays to make sure that your logo is too.

In another study, the level of descriptiveness in a logo, defined by visual elements that describe what the company does (e.g., Burger King), can positively affect brand evaluations, purchase intentions, and brand performance. The authors believe the positive correlation between logo descriptiveness and positive brand indicators stems from the ease of processing the logos, which conveys a stronger sense of authenticity. The authors note several essential caveats, however. The effect for familiar brands is significantly smaller and is reversed for brands that may elicit negative imagery (e.g., a funeral home). It is also worth noting that the authors conducted this study with a general audience, thus favoring more straightforward visual cues

A final study demonstrated that the amount of asymmetry present in a logo could increase the perceptions of excitement in customers. That is, having an asymmetrical logo profers a sense of coolness in one's brand personality that more "square" brands lack. All told, these findings and others demonstrate that a logo is much more than a simple visual communication tool to differentiate your company from competitors, it is a device that can fundamentally impact consumer behavior and brand performance — design with care.

Greg VanderPol