Brand perception has a lot to do with brand loyalty or information search. However, brand identity, more specifically the logo, allows the brand to be recognized. We, as consumers, tend to develop impressions of their brand based off of only their logo. We perceive their logo’s shape, colour and typeface based on past experiences and the way we are conditioned to view them. So, how do the individual elements of a company logo affect the consumers perception of the brand without any prior knowledge?
The approach to answering this question was dividing the elements of logos into three categories: shape, typeface and colour. The results are psychological, so there’s overlap in the perception of the elements. Factors like gender, race, experience and age affect how these elements are perceived.
Shapes are symbolic and have the ability to tell a company’s story. Companies with circular logos are perceived as being caring, warm, sensitive, feminine and comforting. Whereas angular logos make a company be perceived such as: durable, strong, orderly, rational and masculine. Angular logos can be divided into subcategories. Square and rectangular logos allow companies to appear proportioned, balanced, professional, trustful, strong and safe to consumers. Triangular logos let the company be perceived as dynamic, powerful, hierarchical, energetic, innovative and masculine. Linear logos are perceived differently by consumers depending on whether they are vertical or horizontal. Vertical lines allow companies to be perceived as strong, sophisticated, powerful, engaging, professional and motivated. Horizontal lines allow companies to be perceived as tranquil, calm, reliable, and protective. Spiralled logos give the consumer the impression that the company is calming, hypnotising and centralising. Organic shapes in logos must reflect the brand, but allow consumers to perceive a company as natural, warm and comforting. Some company logos are not composed of shapes and are instead composed of typefaces.
Typefaces have the ability to give the consumer an impression of the company. Serif fonts, the typefaces with the feet, in logos allow consumers to perceive a company has established, formal, traditional, and reliable. Slab serif fonts, the wider serif fonts, in logos allow the company to be perceived as authoritative, timeless, and confident. Sans serif fonts, without the feet, allow consumers to perceive the company as simple, honest, and modern. Modern fonts, minimal characters with heavy contrast in lines, in logos allow the brand to be perceived as strong, progressive, and stylish. Script fonts in logos allow the company to be perceived as feminine, elegant, classic, vintage, regal or important. Handwritten fonts in logos allow companies to be perceived as personal, whimsical, and friendly. Display and decorative fonts in logos allow consumers to perceive the company as unique, casual, direct and fun.
Character styles also have an impact on how a company is perceived through their logo. Logos with italics are often perceived as mobile. Logos with all caps are perceived as authoritative whereas logos with all lower case are seen as friendly and youthful. Logos with kerning, the spaces between letters, are seen as modern or mysterious by consumers. Regardless of whether a logo is composed of shapes or typefaces they will be coloured.
Choosing colours for a logo is a symbolic decision and can be dependent on the context. Colours often have presumptive meanings because we associate a lot of different things with a certain colour. For example, red and green are affiliated with Christmas and pink is affiliated with breast cancer. There are nine main colours when it comes to design: red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, white and grey. The perception and affiliations of these colours are vast as they resonate many different emotions among audiences.
Other sub-colours are also evident in logos. Pink is perceived as nurturing, warm and soft and brown is perceived as rugged, serious, natural and earthy.
In order to see these elements work together, let’s go over a few examples:
- If a logo was being designed for a fertility clinic, the target audience could be married couples, in their 30s-40s who wish to have a kid. These people may come from all walks of life, but the logo must resonate with all them. The shape of the logo could be circular or organic; a comforting, caring and warm shape. The typeface could be sans serif; a stable, modern, clean and honest typeface. Maybe all lowercase to seem friendly. The colours could be green representing nature and fertility, and white which could represent cleanliness and clarity.
- If a logo was to be designed for a fish and chips restaurant. Their target audience could be boomers who love tradition and fishing. The shape could be rectangular to represent truthfulness and safety. The typeface could be a serif font for the restaurant to be perceived as established and old-fashioned. The colour could be red for hunger and comfort, and brown for natural and earthiness.
- If a logo was being designed for a rubber duck café, the target audience could be families with younger kids. The shape could be organic in order to better represent the café. The typeface could be handwritten in order to be whimsical and friendly. The colour could be yellow, to represent the original rubber duck and to be seen as friendly and fun.
I never mentioned a specific logo in any of this. Yet, you probably had some logos go through your mind that you never realised were carefully thought out to make you see them a certain way. So, next time you see a logo – which will probably be later today – I hope you take a moment to understand how it resonates with you and appreciate the designers behind it.
Amber Luloff, Account Executive
Amber is a current advertising and marketing student with a background in design and illustration. Her interest in advertising began with her passion for visual communication; specifically, how art can portray stories and emotions. As an account executive, she brings an abundance of skills to the table as she works with the account managers to develop and maintain long lasting business relationships.