Brand include; increased brand purchase (Park et al,
Brand imagery bombards today’s customers, as a range of various different messages surround the average consumer with a plentitude of marketing communication. Brand logos create value for customers by enabling faster decision making through facilitating brand identification (Handerson & Cote, 1998). As part of a brand element, a logo can be defined as a graphic representations or image that triggers memory associations of the target brand. However, logos go beyond just brand identification, as benefits of logo use include; increased brand purchase (Park et al, 2010), reduced customer price sensitivity (Ailawadi et al, 2003) and lower overall marketing costs (Mizik & Jacobson, 2008). This is because logos act as the primary visual representation of a brands general image and their functional benefit. Logos can, therefore, effect a brands reputation (Baker & Balmer, 1997), consumer attitudes (Woo et al, 2008) and brand loyalty (Müller et al, 2011)
Visual symbols may personalise a brand, and provides customers with a sense of connection, better than brands names can communicate alone, due to symbols being a richer and more tangible means of communication (MacInnis et al, 1999). Symbols more easily signify a brands benefits and transcend language barriers than text or names, effectively allowing for logos to be used universally, as language barrier is no longer an issue within different markets.
Logos create value for a firm, through engaging customer self-identity and expressiveness, as a brand may choose to reflect various parts of their customers identities, such as core beliefs and values, or lifestyles they adhere to (Escalas & Bettman, 2005) within their logo design, in an attempt to develop an association between the brand and self, which in turn helps people see the brand as part of themselves. (Walsh et al, 2010).
Another value created through logo design is communication of the functional benefit of the brand since logos emanate a desirable and capable self. Brands can, therefore, reinforce the belief that using their product reduces uncertainty in individuals lives, by facilitating control and efficacy in achieving/avoiding, desirable/undesirable outcomes (Park et al, 2013). Similar to Skinner’s behavioural theory on operant conditioning, as a way of moulding consumers to learn that the stimulus of using a brands product will lead to a positive result or the removal of a negative consequence (Skinner, 1939). Both positive and negative reinforcement allows for the brand’s functional benefit to be conveyed, which encourages customers to reciprocate and rely on the brands as a solution for a certain problem, resulting in effective marketing through enhancing customers brand commitment further.
Aesthetic appeal creates value since it provides visual gratification and acts as a prompt for customers to develop an emotional bond with a visible element of the seemingly intangible firm (Park et al, 2013). Symbols with an appealing visual design can also help brands become more salient and stimulating in an individuals mind, hence facilitating favourable attitude formation and memory retrieval (Fischer et al, 1991).
All these create value for a firm, by effectively communicating with a customer, using only a single image, allowing consumers to develop a relationship and build trust with the brand. Potentially increasing a firms performance, using customer loyalty to influence stability and growth of the firm’s revenue and profits over time, effectively protecting the firm from competitive threats (Park et al, 2013). Results show that commitment is significantly associated with all three benefits of logo use; facilitating brand self-associations, representing functional benefits and providing aesthetic appeal; whilst brand identification and brand names alone is not significantly related to brand commitment (Park et al, 2013). It is therefore essential for firms to dedicate considerable resources to developing an effective logo, as the iconography acts as a prominent feature in a diverse array of direct and indirect communication vehicles produced by a business, ranging from packaging, promotional materials, and advertising to uniforms, business card and letterheads (Bottomly and Doyle, 2006). It is because of this, that firms have started to pay substantial attention to brand aesthetics, with 1 in 50 companies redesigning their logo in a given year (Spaeth, 2002). Given the expenses involved in logo redesign, firms would benefit by knowing which customers are likely to respond well to such changes within their pièce de résistance, and new firms want to find out how they can best appeal to customers using a single image, to effectively penetrate the market.
A systematic typology was formulated to classify the visual elements of logo design. These included the concepts of naturalness, harmony, elaborateness, parallelism, repetition, proportion, and shape (Henderson and Cote, 1998). It is found that particular shapes within a logo design send out specific messages, a consumer would then subconsciously infer particular qualities about the brand:
Straight-edged, four-sided structures such as squares and rectangles, suggest stability used to imply balance, trust and rationality. Precise logo shapes also convey professionalism and efficiency. Subverting these shapes with off-kilter positioning or more dynamic colours would result in the stability being lost, but there’s an addition of an attention capturing property (Pahwa, 2017). Examples include; Lego, Microsoft, and American Express
It is also suggested that triangles have a strong association with power, direction and dynamics, which tend to be viewed as masculine attributes. The triangle shape depicts dissimilar meaning when positioned differently. Displaying stability and strength when placed on its base, and conversely when tilted show instability and tension (Pahwa, 2017). Examples include; Google Drive and Google Play
Circles, ovals and ellipses tend to project a positive emotional message. Usually depicting completeness, protection, creativeness and movement. Circles are less common than other shapes, hence they act as attention-grabbing (Pahwa, 2017). Example of rounded logos include Google Chrome, Samsung, and Dell.
It is therefore important to consider the subliminal effects of different shape choices within logo design, as it is principal to ensure it reflects, and communicates effectively, to the chosen audience.
Consumers in Asian countries, such as China, perceived natural and harmonious logo designs more positively, whereas consumers in western cultures, such as the UK, perceived abstract and asymmetric logo designs more positively (Henderson, 2003). The roundness of a logo is highly related to perceptions of harmony and naturalness. Therefore the trend of roundness being a common feature in current logo design; a response to the craziness of the dot-com era, and brand globalisation with the expansion to new Asian markets, where roundness is preferred (Zhang et al, 2006); would result in a more positive response to the brand’s logo. Evidenced by 50% of a collection of 200 redesigned logos changing shape, among that 68 % were pronounced more rounded (Carter, 2005).
Empirical research has found that consumers interpret a rounded version of a stimulus to be a compromise between the focal stimulus and its surroundings (Arnheim, 1954), highlighting its ability to appear approachable and harmonious (Berlyne, 1960), allowing its applicability to be wide-ranging. In contrast, angularity is associated with energy, toughness and strength, which may be more significantly appealing to different markets such as Sportswear, eg Nike’s Swoosh.
Subsequent theories of visual perception were based around the principal Gestalt Theory (Arnheim, 1954). The theory comprises of 5 fundamental principles in ways that humans group together objects, to form a perception of an image, these include; Similarity, Continuation, Closure, Proximity and Multi-stability.
When objects appear similar to one another, viewers will often see the individual elements as part of a pattern or group (Hampton-Smith, 2017). This effect can be used to create a single image from a series of seemingly separate elements, increasing the sense of coherence. Contrastingly a particular element can be emphasised by highlight the element as an anomaly, breaking the pattern of similarity (Paget, 2017), eg SUN Microsystems
Continuation is the principle through which the eye is drawn along a path, as the brain prefers to see a single continuous figure rather than separate lines. This can be used to create movement within a composition and is seen where a line is cut through one object, aligning perfectly with a secondary element (Paget, 2017), examples include Coca-Cola
Proximity uses the close arrangement of elements to create a group association between those objects (Arnheim, 1954), example includes IBM (also masculinity) and Unilever.
Closure is a popular principle, where an object is incomplete or the interior space of an element is not fully closed, but the viewer perceives a complete shape by filling in the missing information (Hampton-Smith, 2017). This is effective within logo design as it adds almost a hidden element that is novel for the viewer once found, examples include FedEx – arrow, WWF – panda
A more unique approach to create novelty and complexity is through Multi-stability. This principle describes the eye’s tendency to separate the foreground object from its background, where everything that is not a figure is considered ground, which can be used to create interesting visual trickery, particularly when the designer introduces deliberate ambiguity (Hampton-Smith, 2017).
Although these principles aren’t applicable to all logo design, it demonstrates that thought behind arrangement and level of complexity is a consideration for firms that aspire for distinctive branding, allowing them to stand out amongst stiff competition within saturated markets.
The implications of shape also extend to the typeface chosen. Jagged, sharp and angular typefaces may appear aggressive or dynamic, giving the impression of energy. Contrastingly, soft, rounded letterforms have a calming, relaxed and youthful appeal. Moreover, curved typefaces, similar to cursive scripts, tend to appeal more to a female audience, while bold lettering has a more masculine attraction (Christie, 2017). Ultimately, font and lettering must be easily legible, to allow for consumers to create a connection quickly, otherwise, they may instead choose a competitor’s products, since they feel inferior to the complexity of the image.
Simplicity is, therefore, another element of effective design as the ease of perception of a logo proves to gain the most trust amongst consumers, whilst excessive detail, that is too complicated to understand within an instant, may evoke a negative response. The most iconic and powerful brands have very simple design, making them iconic and recognisable in its nature.
Another element for brands to consider within their logo design is the use of Colour, as 92.6% of customers value visual factors most important when purchasing products (Random Original, 2010) with 84.7% of consumers citing colour as their main reason for purchasing a particular product (Morton, 2010). It is found that black and white imagery may sustain interest for less than two-thirds of a second, in contrast, a coloured image may hold the attention for two seconds or more (Morton, 2010). In relation to marketing, it is essential for branding to hold a customers attention as a product has only one-twentieth of a second to grab the customer’s attention on a supermarket shelf (Lindberg, 2013). While, the choice of colour within online advertising and marketing material, has the potential of changing a consumers motivation to buy a product by 80% (Inkbot Design, 2016), this is increasingly important, considering the role of the brand’s logo.