In this article i am going to look at logo psychology and how the 3 core elements of logo design come together to create a great business logo.
And vice versa, for the majority of us when we see these logos, we immediately connect our minds to the business that they have come from. It is this instant recognition that is coveted by almost every business.
It’s highly likely that you already had an idea of your logo at the same time that you thought of your business name, am I right?
However, did you truly put the level of effort into it that strong branding requires? I’m going to hazard a guess and say not. Which in effect, is you undervaluing your business because a logo has the ability to trigger an immediate, even overwhelming emotional response effecting the way that your company and its offerings are perceived.
The psychology behind the power of a logo can be undervalued, but some of the biggest brands we know, the shape, font, spacing and color were all chosen for very definitive reasons.
An often overlooked entity with regards to a logo, but one that can have a significant impact and for many big brands, they have been chosen by chance.
The shape that you choose for your logo can work wonders to both project and reinforce the brand and its values to a target audience. Conducting a significant amount research with regards to the psychology behind shapes and then think about your audience.
Internet Psychologist Graham Jones explains further, “Shapes and designs have powerful psychological impacts. Much of the way in which we perceive any kind of shape is culturally dependent though – which is a problem for businesses.”
“For example, in some African groups the concept of a straight line does not exist. Children are brought up in round houses and almost everything they have or see is rounded. That means if you were targeting them with a straight-lined logo you’d have problems.”
When you think about it, you can see clear correlations between the shapes that brands have picked and their target audience. For instance, triangles are associated with power and authority, and are said to convey masculinity, and therefore resonate strongly with men. Like squares, a triangle can also elicit feelings of stability.
Consider masonic symbols –triangles feature heavily, and of course are male dominated. Many brands appealing to men or an industry heavily populated with men, with their products and services continue to use triangles. The Google Drive and Play logos both feature the angular shape, Caterpillar use a yellow triangle and Adidas’s black stripes make up a triangle.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, circular shapes are associated with family and convey a perception of union, trust and loyal, appealing to women.
Graham continues, “Similarly, it rather depends on gender and personality as well. When you look at the doodles produced by men, they tend to use more straight lines than women. So, if your product or service is targeted more towards one gender, you’d be better off choosing appropriate shapes according to your market.”
“Different personality types are also attracted by particular kinds of design. So, for a business, understanding exactly the kind of people you are aiming at is essential – otherwise your design of your logo or your choice of font could be off-putting.”
Obviously, we have only touched upon 2 shapes here, but it drives home the point that shape can provoke a response in the subconscious mind and can be effectively used to infer brand qualities.
From quite a young age, perhaps 13-14 onwards we are taught about color and the impact it can have on our moods.
Perhaps we aren’t taught so much about its ability to alter the way we read, learn and comprehend information. The correct use of color can stimulate our emotions and the decisions that we make based on them, it’s been used by brands for years to shape our perception as consumers.
Kissmetrics actually wrote a blog about using color to increase website conversions, and makes reference to a statistic that states at least 62% of a customer opinion is determined by color. By using a specific color, brands are able to offset or tone down the impact of shape.
For example, consider the Audi logo, the 4 circles undoubtedly represent union because of the company’s history. As previously discussed, a circle is typically a shape that appeals to women – however, the silver/chrome effect used in the image gives it an inherently masculine feel.
Imagine instead in a pastel blue, or bright yellow had been used? It would alter the brands perception entirely.
Here is a brief glimpse into some of the feelings that colors can invoke.
Blue – Serene, Trustworthy, Secure
Red – Passionate, Love, Bold
Yellow – Optimistic, Happy, Vitality
Purple – Luxurious, Indulgent, Creative
Black – Formal, Sophisticated, Authoritative
Green – Fresh, Natural, Active
It is imperative to consider the associated feelings that you want your audience to experience when they think about your brand. Are they having fun? Do they feel secure? Relaxed? Empowered? The human brain relates to brands using the same pathways and processes it uses to remember faces and characters.
Embracing this could potentially give you an easier way to build emotional connection- not to mention a competitive edge.
David Dews, Creative Director at Speed gives us his journey to their logo design, “We re-branded in early 2015. We did this because we’d evolved and so had our offering… we’re now a fully integrated creative agency offering strategy, brand, digital, animation and print.”
“We needed a more encompassing and sophisticated brand as our previous one was very digital and ‘start up’ looking – we also wanted a brand that could convey our ‘why’ which is to create the best humanly possible collaborations. We feel the new look meets the brief… the hand drawn logo type demonstrates our human behavior insight.”
“The color palette works on a couple of levels… the warm yellow represents positive starts and good relationships – which is how we approach everything here. Charcoal, grey tones and white are the other key colors we use and they give us the air of credibility and natural confidence we now portray as we’re quickly becoming a recognized agency.”
“We have brand guidelines which are fairly light, they have a few fundamentals at its core but they are there to be built on and grow as we grow. Our image type is based on the work we do and when we are looking for art direction we always think about humanity and great people to give us inspiration. Our brand is pretty consistently portrayed in everything we do and that’s mainly because all of the Speedsters believe in it and in short love it, so it’s something we can continue to expand on.”
Let us begin with explaining what makes up what we called a ‘font’ – Typeface + Style + Size.
Font is an entity that can become synonymous with an industry, a product or even a city – think of the typeface for the London Underground.
Just like shape and color, the font that you choose will also speak volumes to your prospective audience and the assumptions that they instantly form about your business. Your font needs to be appropriate to the business, its offerings and its values. Think of it like an outfit that people will potentially misjudge you on – you wouldn’t wear a swimsuit to an interview? Well you might, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For instance, you wouldn’t find a letter from a doctor or a bank being written using ‘Comic Sans’.
By not paying attention to detail when it comes to your font, you will distract the audience from the core message. A good exercise to undertake here is to type the company name 20 times, each in a different font, look extensively at the variations and what they say to you. Decorative typefaces are best used for logos, because they create a big impact – your logo is not the place for Times New Roman. Find below some of the ways that fonts can be perceived;
Where is your logo going to be used? As well as aesthetically appropriate, it should also be functional. Choosing a typeface that will work well across web and print will send a consistent company wide message.
UX Architect and Designer Sean Johnson offer some expert advice “Things to consider when choosing a font for your logotype include matching the characteristics of the typeface, such as weight and style, to the feel of the brand. It’s also important to check the legibility of the type on different devices and at all the sizes the logo might be reproduced at.
Didot is a popular choice for fashion and beauty brands, with its elegant stems and thin serifs, but at small sizes or on high contrast screens these fine details can be lost. This is also true of many tech starts-ups, choosing modern typefaces in very light or ultra-thin weights, which look great when large, but lose their contrast when small, or in print, and become difficult to read.”
By ensuring all of the design elements of your logo display integrity with regards to your business offerings and values, you can create a cohesive experience for your customers and target audience – building trust.
Finally, Niall O’Loughlin, Marketing Manager at 99designs has some words of wisdom on finding a designer, “Finding a designer that possess the Industry knowledge and experience is imperative to the successful completion of your project. I would always suggest making sure you work with a designer who understands the environment your business operates in.”
“This ensures your designer will speak your language and be able to convey your messaging, communication and brand effectively through your logo design. A great first step in doing so is to request a designer’s portfolio. Have a look at some of their previous designs and ensure that they are aligned with what you wish to achieve, allowing you to create a great brand your customers will adore.”