Are you thinking about changing up your logo or creating a new one? Designing the right logo for your business can be challenging. You want a look that’s recognizable and memorable. Yet, the recent shift to minimalistic logos may leave you asking if you should pare your logo down.
Before you take the next steps, learn about a study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published in the Journal of Marketing Research. It analyzed the results from seven studies to see how logo design affects consumers.
The 5 Rules of Logo Design
Few companies garner instant recognizability like big brands, such as Coca Cola, which is recognized by 94% of the world’s population. But, companies of all sizes can develop memorable logos by applying the five rules of logo design:
Moreover, your logo displays your brand personality using symmetry or asymmetry, and complexity or simplicity. The best logos use clean, consistent, and creative design. HBR dug into the differences between descriptive and nondescriptive logos to better understand how each one affects consumers’ opinion of your brand.
How do descriptive and nondescriptive logos differ?
Have you ever seen an advertisement or a logo that left you wondering what services or products the business sells? A nondescriptive logo is a minimal design that doesn’t necessarily hint at the industry, service, or products provided. Whereas a descriptive logo literally reflects your business name, products, or benefits.
Look at the images below. Can you recall the names of each company?
From left to right, the logos are from Delta, Kmart, and Verizon. These logos are nondescriptive. If a small startup with no brand recognition used this approach, it might take a while to build up brand equity.
Now review the following descriptive logos. Can you name the company or products?
From left to right, the logos are T.J. Maxx, Nintendo, and Ace Hardware. Each logo hints at what the brand sells or lists the company name. A longstanding familiar brand may use a nondescript logo with great success because the brand is recognizable with or without a logo. But for smaller companies, descriptive symbols deliver higher brand equity.
Descriptive vs. Nondescriptive: What the Research Says
For unfamiliar brands, descriptive logos win. These designs come across as more trustworthy and give consumers a base point to identify your company with. In doing so, consumers are more willing to purchase, leading to an increase in net sales.
According to the study, Let the Logo Do the Talking: The Influence of Logo Descriptiveness on Brand Equity:
- “Logo descriptiveness can positively affect impressions of authenticity and, in turn, purchase intentions.”
- “Descriptive logos are easier to process and thus elicit stronger impressions of authenticity, which consumers value.”
- “Significant positive association between logo descriptiveness and gross profit.”
When to Use a Nondescriptive Logo
So when should a company consider a nondescriptive logo? In most cases, the HBR study finds that companies in industries with a negative connotation like funeral services or DUI counseling, are better off not displaying a literal image associated with their services. Or for companies like Dunkin Donuts, removing the “Donut” gives the brand more room to expand beyond being known simply for donuts.
Next Steps: Think About Your Logo Design
Your logo impacts sales. And creating effective design is an art. Designing a good logo requires logic and creativity. Furthermore, HBR recommends, “you might want to include at least one textual and/or visual design element that is indicative of the type of product or service your company offers.” Start with your branding, then develop a logo that’ll make your brand memorable.