The Psychology Behind Every Good Business Logo

3rd October, 2016 by

Be wise when selecting a logo for your business.

Amid the maelstrom of paperwork, expense and excitement involved in launching a new business, it’s easy to overlook logos. However, these graphical representations of a brand or business have a surprisingly significant impact on how potential customers view that company. From their colour and size to inset shapes and outlines, knowing how to design a logo for optimum effect requires a basic understanding of human psychology and an appreciation of how a company wants to be portrayed.

If that sounds ridiculous, colour provides a simple example of this concept in action. Environmental brands often adopt green logos to infer organic growth and a connection with the outdoors, whereas red connotes dynamism and passion. Greenpeace and Red Bull have taken this one step further by incorporating those associations into their names, whereas orange’s friendly connotations are favoured by child-oriented brands including Penguin books and Nickelodeon. The imaginative and creative inferences of purple underpin Yahoo’s logo, and black’s sophisticated authority is harnessed by the BBC and Sony, among others.

This ethos extends into other areas, too. The use of serif uppercase fonts by HSBC implies tradition and strength, whereas Innocent’s sans-serif lower-case text is fresh and family-friendly – exactly the sentiments these brands want to be associated with. Circular logos subconsciously infer the earth and the circle of life (which is why they’re beloved by car manufacturers), while horizontal lines create a suggestion of community that befits not-for-profit or locally-oriented brands. And then there are corporate renegades like Nike, who patented their iconic ‘swoosh’ in 1971 for just $35. Today, that blend of movement and approval has become one of the world’s most recognisable logos, alongside the soaring golden arches of McDonalds and Ford’s enduring blue oval.

It is therefore evident that designing a logo involves much more than choosing your favourite colour or deciding whether to use a drop shadow. The National Lottery logo is particularly powerful and effective, with benevolent eyes indicating interest and enthusiasm above a palm smile that demonstrates happiness. Those crossed fingers are a stroke of marketing genius, and the upward thumb beside them seems to imply this particular ticket purchase will be a winner. None of this happened by accident – Camelot intended to create subconscious emotions of hope and happiness within their logo, and their aims were achieved with some style.

A logo often transcends mere marketing to become a company’s public face, appearing everywhere from websites and emails to adverts and client pitch presentations. That means it should be small enough to display on a business card yet dynamic enough to scale up on a billboard ad. It doesn’t have to relate to the company’s product or services any more than Mercedes-Benz’s three-pointed star relates to cars, but it should be different from its competitors. That’s a mistake social media platform Tumblr made, by adopting a logo that’s simultaneously evocative of rivals Facebook and Twitter.

Just as an engineer might struggle to write dynamic brochure copy, or an artisan baker wouldn’t necessarily appreciate the SEO significance of backlinks, knowing how to design a logo is a skill few people are blessed with. Although budgets can be tight when creating a new brand, it’s worth using a freelance professional to design something capable of standing the test of time – while delivering appropriate messages about the new brand’s aims and attitude.

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