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New Logo Design:

Customers Classification of Logos Design Characteristics and their Relevance


Customers make distinct judgments about a company from its logo design. Extant research is based

on theoretical models; by contrast, we adopt customer-based approach with a novel methodology

multiple picture sorting to investigate which are the most relevant characteristics that customers

utilize to differentiate logos. Ninety-four subjects were asked to classify unknown logos according to

criteria of their choice. Customers clustered logos into: (1) composed of brand icon and/or name, and

(2) colour vs. black logos. We then tested with a lab experiment (N=209) if the logo design

characteristics identified by customers do make a difference in logos attractiveness. The results

show that logos composed by an icon plus a brand name are perceived significantly more attractive

than brand logos made of one component only. Thus, customers-identified logo characteristics are

relevant and can guide entrepreneurs and managers in designing and selecting logo for novel brands.

Keywords: Logo Design, Logo Typology, Start-up Logos, Corporate Visual Identity, Brand Icon.


In todays fast-changing world, logos become an essential element that helps enterprises not only to

differentiate their brands from the competition (Melewar and Saunders, 2000) but also to provide

affective bonding with customers before any promotional activity (Henderson and Cote, 1998;

Machado et al, 2015). Recent experimental research shows that customers make clear judgment

about the image of a firm from the logo design (Hynes, 2009, pg. 545). Attractiveness of logos is

important because affect toward the components of visual identity lead to more positive attitudes

toward the company and to higher purchase intention (Jun et al, 2007). Start-up companies, small

and medium enterprises (SMEs) and developers of novel brands should thus consider logo design as

a crucial factor for their success. In fact, according to Machado et al (2015, pg. 79), In low

investment settings, the affect attached to a logo is one of the few cues that differentiate the product

or the company.

Jun et al (2008) demonstrate that affect influences attitude toward the logo and consequently, attitude

toward the company and purchase intention; our study aims at investigating more deeply the design

characteristic of logos that drive affect. Our work builds on Jun et al (2008)s study by investigating

more in depth a subset of their model specifically the relationship between design characteristics of

the logo and affect with the core difference that logo design characteristics are identified by

customers and not theory driven.

This study answers Salgado-Montejo et al (2014, pg. 638) call to action: further research is needed

to help operationalize logo design and provide better tools for brand managers when it comes to

choosing, modifying or evaluating the logo of a company or product. From our review of existing

research on logo design, it emerges that most studies focus on a theoretical or a graphic design

expert-based approach (Henderson and Cote, 1998) to derive their research questions. It appears that

scholars have not asked consumers which characteristics of logos they find more salient. By contrast,

we aim to find if customers are able to identify relevant characteristics of brand logo design

explicitly, and if these characteristics do make a significant difference in logos attractiveness. In

other words - according to customers - which are the most relevant design characteristics of
(unfamiliar) logos? Are these characteristics relevant in determining affective reactions to novel

brand logos?

We aim to address the identified research gap by introducing a novel method in the context of logos

research namely, multiple picture sorting (Rugg and McGeorge, 2005; Eppler and Ge, 2008). To

preview our findings, customers named most often two logo design characteristics: (1) logos

composed of a brand icon alone, a brand name alone or both, and (2) colour or black logos. In a

second phase we asked a different set of 209 respondents to rate the attractiveness of unfamiliar

logos differing on the two major characterstics identified in the first stage of the study. The

experiment results show that logo design characteristics identified by customers have a significant

impact on logo attractiveness. In particular, brand logos composed by both an icon and a name are

found to be significantly more attractive than logo composed by only an icon or only the brand name.

The main theoretical contribution of this study is to bring to light an important logo design

characteristics that the brand community has until now overlooked: the significant effect of the

combinations of brand logo components (brand logo icon and brand name). In fact, researchers had

focused mainly on studying the shape of logo icons (Henderson and Cote, 1998; Kilic et al, 2011)

such as their roundness (Zhang et al, 2006; Walsh et al, 2011), naturalness and concreteness (Hynes,

2009; Machado et al, 2015) and colour (Hynes, 2009), and separately brand names (Arora et al,

2015) and typeface (Salgado-Montejo et al, 2014). This study also provides a methodological novelty

to the field of brand logo design: the deployment of the picture sorting technique (Rugg and

McGeorge, 2005) to support a customer-based investigation. Results provide easy-to-implement

guidelines for novel brand logo design, which are particularly relevant for entrepreneurs and

managers of start-up companies, SMEs and developers of novel brands in response to the recent

call to answer brand managers needs (Brexendorf et al, 2015).

The paper is structured into four main parts. The next section provides a review of relevant literature

and the delineation of the research gap and related research questions. In the third section we

describe the two stages of the research: the multiple sorting study and the experiment. The fourth

section is a discussion of the results. After this, limitations of the study are presented, and

suggestions for future research are proposed.


Corporate Visual Identity (CVI; Rode and Vallaster, 2005) is the graphic design at the core of the

firms visual identity and plays a determinant role for companies (Melewar and Saunders, 2000; Van

Den Bosch et al, 2005). CVI not only allows customers to identify and differentiate a brand from

another (MacInnis et al, 1999; Park et al, 2013); it is also an essential tool for conveying associations

between the brand and its essence (Walsh et al, 2010). The word logo refers to the graphic design

that companies use to identify themselves and their products, with or without the firms name (Imber

and Toffler, 2000). According to Kilic et al (2011, p. 585) A logo may include an icon (for example,

Windows) which is defined as a graphic image, illustration or symbol that represents a concept.

Other logos may consist of a logotype but contain no icon (for example, the cursive Coca-Cola

logo). The logos icon is also referred to as symbol (Salgado-Montejo et al, 2014; Melawar and

Saunders, 2000).

Bloch (1995) and Goldman (2005) suggest that through the positive aesthetical appeal of logos,

brands cannot only provide the pleasure of visual gratification, but might furthermore facilitate the

emotional bond between the customer and the company. When new brands are created, for instance

when a new company is founded, given the absence of brand equity, the logo becomes a crucial

element of the brand strategy to create affect and trust (Machado et al, 2015). For this reason, start-

ups present an interesting and unique setting for brand management and CVI studies (Bresciani and

Eppler, 2010).

Henderson and Cote (1989)s work on logo design set a milestone in the investigation of logos. They

investigated logos icons design and identified - based on literature and graphic designers

recommendations - seven central characteristics that affect consumer responses. These so-called

higher-level design dimensions are: degree of naturalness, harmony, elaboration, parallelism,

repetition of elements, proportion and roundness of design. They further investigated the influence

these characteristics have on four logo goals: affect, familiar meaning, correct recognition and false

recognition (which happens when people believe they have seen the logo when actually they have

not). They discovered that logos aiming to have a high degree of recognition should be very natural,
very harmonious and moderately elaborate. On the other hand, low-investment logos (that aim at

false recognition and positive affect) should be less natural and very harmonious. High-image logos

(professional look and strong positive image) must be moderately elaborated and natural. With the

aim to test the cross-cultural applicabilitys of these findings, Henderson et al (2003) researched the

effect of visual design in China and Singapore. They found that many of the findings acquired in the

USA (Henderson and Cote, 1998) are applicable for Asia as well. This suggests that some visual

aspects of brand strategies might accomplish companies goals across international borders, and that

consumer responses to design might be rather universal (Pittard et. al, 2007).

Henderson and Cote (1998)s seminal study opened the way to more fine grained studies of logos

icon design, based on the higher-level characteristics they identified. Scholars investigated icon

roundness (Zhang et al, 2006; Walsh et al, 2011), icon proportions (Pittard et al, 2007), icon

naturalness (Hynes, 2009; Machado et al, 2015) and colour (Hynes, 2009) of icon design.

In particular, studies on logo icon roundness found that individual preferences for angular versus

round logo shapes are dependent on self-construal and on culture (Zhang et al, 2006; Walsh et al,

2011). In fact, logos were found to be more angular in individualistic countries (specifically, U.S.,

U.K., and Canada) compared to collectivistic countries (Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) where

logos are found to be more rounded (Zhang et al, 2006). Walsh et al (2011) tested redesign of well-

known logos from angular to round icons, and found that consumer responses to the redesign are not

always positive and depend on brand commitment.

Pittard et al (2007) investigated the effect of the divine proportion (also called golden ratio) across

three different cultures (Australia, Singapore and South Africa). They discovered that there is a

cross-cultural consistent attitude with regard to the divine proportion. Logos with a high degree of

naturalness were most preferred when expressed in the divine proportion. However, for abstract

logos with a low degree of naturalness, a 1:1 proportion was preferred.

Hynes (2009) studied the triadic relationship design, colour and evoked meaning by evaluating

logos in combination with companies mission statements. The results showed that consumers make

a clear evaluation of the image of the company by judging the logo design, and have a strong opinion

about which colours are appropriate for different corporate images.

Kilic et al (2011) conducted a comparative study of brand icons in the U.S. and in Japan for

established brands. They found that the U.S. logos contained more pictorial icons, but logos of the

two countries did not differ in their representations of product benefits nor in the conceptual

similarity with the brand name.

Salgado-Montejo et al (2014) investigated brand components congruency (typeface and logo

symbol) of well-known logos (i.e., Coca-Cola), finding that congruent design elements in familiar

brand logos can give rise to higher emotional engagement.

Using well-known and unknown logos, Machado et al (2015) tested abstract and figurative (natural)

icon designs. Within the figurative category, adding to Henderson and Cote (1998), they further

distinguished between organic designs (biological objects such as flowers or animals) and cultural

designs (logos depicting manufactured objects or symbols, e.g., cars or writing symbols).

From this review of the literature on logo design it emerges that customers have not been explicitly

asked their opinion regarding which logo design characteristics they find more evident when they are

exposed to new logos. Our study aims at contributing to brand logo research by filling this gap

adopting a novel customer perspective. This approach does not only advance the theoretical

discourse but also provides practitioners with relevant insights regarding customers peceptions on

logos, an aspect which is particularly relevant for start-up companies since the customers perception

of their logo relies exclusively on intrinsic properties of the logo itself (Van Riel and Van Den Ban,


Building on Jun et al (2008) model, which demonstrates that affects toward the logo influences

attitude toward the company and purchase intention, our study aims at investigating more deeply the

design characteristic of logos (and not only of logo icons) that drive affect.

More specifically, we aim to answer the following research questions: What are the main

characteristics that differentiate unknown logos from the customers point of view? Do the main logo

design characteristics identified by customers make a significant difference in attractiveness toward

unknown logos?


A two-stage approach is deployed to examine the research questions. We investigate: (1) how

customers classify unknown logos through a multiple sorting technique methodology and (2) if the

classification criteria identified by customers in stage one make a significant difference in customers

perception of logos attractiveness through a lab experiment. The two stages of the research and

related methodologies are explained in details in the following sections.

3.1 How do customers characterize logos? A multiple sorting procedure

3.1.1 Methodology

In order to answer the research question of which are the main characteristics of novel logos

according to customers, a multiple picture sorting technique is deployed (Coxon, 1999; Rugg and

McGeorge, 2005). Since customers find difficult to think about their preferences in abstract terms,

the technique of picture sorting can provide a viable solution to investigate salient criteria in the mind

of consumers. With picture sorting, subjects are asked to order given stimuli (in our case, images of

unknown logos) into groups based on their similarities (as in Eppler and Ge, 2008).

A sample of 30 real but unfamiliar logos are utilized for the first stage of the study. Logos unknown

to the subjects are selected for this research because we aim to assess the effects of logo design alone,

without influences of brand awareness and attitude (as in Henderson and Cote, 1998; Machado et al,

2015). In previous research (i.e., Henderson and Cote, 1998), this was achieved by using unfamiliar

logos of foreign businesses from all over the world. However, this stimuli selection approach

presents some issues, since complete cross-cultural visual transferability cannot be assumed (Zhang

et al, 2006). In fact, cultural influence does not only apply to the interpretation, but also to the

creation process of visual elements (Berlyne, 1971). To overcome this issue, the logos of our study

are real logos of start-up companies of the country where the data is collected (Switzerland). The

choice of start-up companies logos enabled conducting a study using real stimuli, generated within

the same cultural area as the study participants come from, which nevertheless avoid the influence of

extrinsic properties given by a known brand.

From a pool of 288 logos of Swiss Start-up companies, with founding year between 2012 and 2015,

30 where randomly selected from a start-up platform. Since the complete sample of 30 logos is too

large for subjects to evaluate, the logos were randomly divided into two groups of 15 logos (List A

and List B). Each subject was exposed to only one list. Moreover, within each list (A and B), logos

were randomly disposed in two different orders. This allowed controlling the influence of the

disposition of the logo on the responses (as in: Pittard et al, 2007), generating in total four different

versions of the questionnaire. Subjects received 15 unfamiliar logos, each presented in the same size

(3x5cm) to control for size effect (Pittard et al, 2007). With this procedure, size effects were

controlled by the use of equal surface area for each logo because, as noted by Pittard et al (2007),

size and central tendency, if not controlled, have a confounding impact on respondent preferences.

Participants were presented with the 15 logos and were asked to group the logos into two or more

categories. Participants were asked to group the logos into two or more categories (indicating which

logos would belong to which group) and provide a name for the classification criteria they chose.

Asking them to group the logos and not only naming the rule provided important information for a

detailed and more accurate analysis of the collected data. Participants were free to group the logos in

as many groups as they wanted because limiting the number of possible groups into which the

participants could have sorted the logos, by using a fixed-sorting technique, has the disadvantage that

subjects natural level of categorization might be distorted (Coxon, 1999, p. 20).

This procedure was repeated three times; in other words, each subject had to identify three rules for

categorizing the given logos. This multiple sorting questioning technique was adopted since Coxon

(1999) argued that asking participants to identify only one sorting method generates the problem that

the subjects do not tend to use the most obvious rule for their sorting.

After the sorting exercise subjects were asked control questions regarding: logo recognition (to

eliminate respondents who were already familiar with the logos), previous experience with logo

design and design in general (to avoid an expert-oriented research), and demographic variables

including gender, age, occupation and nationality (to avoid cross-cultural issues).

3.1.2 Findings

The final sample consisted of 93 participants. The gender representation was balanced, with 47%

female and 53% male. Most were students (90%). Regarding the nationality of the participants, 69%

were Swiss, 24% were German, 2% Austrian, 2% Italian. Of the total 99 answers collected, six

respondents could not be considered because they claimed to recognize the logos (3 subjects) or they

were not central Europeans (3 subjects) and therefore their answers were not considered for not

biasing the results with cross-cultural differences in classification processes (Nisbett, 2003; Eppler

and Ge, 2008).

Responses were summarized using a frequency distribution in order to assess an eventual dominance

of a grouping rule compared to others. Results are displayed in Figure 1: the large majority of

subjects chose brand icon and/or name (85%) and colour versus black & white (83%) as most

relevant rules for classifying logos. These rules were more prominent than all the other clustering

possibilities together; results show that these two criteria are the most salient differences in logo

design, in the eyes of customers. The third most named rule logos with or without outline was

chosen only by 20% of subjects. The order with which the logos where presented did not have an

influence on the results.

Figure 1. Aggregated frequency distribution of logo grouping criteria chosen by subjects

Next, we provide a description of the grouping rules, in order of relevance.

Rule 1 - Icon and/or name: logos were mainly clustered into three groups: brand icon only, brand

name only or the combination of icon and name.

Rule 2 Colour or black & white: logos were grouped in coloured logos and black and white logos.

Rule 3 - Outline (with or without): logos were grouped in logos having an outline, frame or coloured

background (e.g., Openployer and Ziano) and logos not having any outline.

Rule 4 - Shape (round or angular): logos were grouped according to their shape. However, the

choice of which logos belonged to which category was not consistent among subjects.

Rule 5 - Capital or lowercase letters: logos were grouped into brand names having only capital

letters, logos having only lowercase letters and logos composed by both.

Rule 6 - Descriptive or abstract: logos were grouped into abstract icons versus descriptive or natural

icon (e.g., icon representing a bird) and/or brand names with abstract names (e.g., Strekin) versus

descriptive names (e.g., Geo Positioning Swiss Technology).

Rule 7 - Long or short name: logos were grouped into brand names made of a single word versus

names with more words.

Rule 8 - Website as a name (with vs. without): logos were grouped into those embodying the brand

webpage address as brand name versus logos without it.

Rule 9 Slogan (with vs. without): logos were grouped into those with a slogan (e.g., Smargetech -

Making Electricity Green) versus logos without it.

Rule 10 - Modern or old fashioned: logos were grouped into modern versus antique style. Within

this rule, the categorization of which logo is modern versus antique/old fashioned was largely

inconsistent, showing that this is a rather subjective parameter.

Rule 11 - Provenance indication: logos were grouped according to the fact that they indicate a

geographical location (e.g. Swiss Block) versus logos without geographic indication.

Rule 12 Numbers (with or without): logos were grouped into brand names containing at least one

number versus logos not containing any digit.

Rule 13 - Language: logos were grouped based on language: English versus German versus invented


Clustering rules chosen only by one subject are not discussed.

In summary, the first stage of the study brought to light that customers clearly identify two main

characteristics in unfamiliar logos.

3.2 Experimental Study

3.2.1 Experiment design

The aim of the second stage of this research is to test if the two main characteristics of logo design

identified by subjects in the multiple picture sorting study are actually relevant in determining affect

toward logos.

Based on the findings of the multiple sorting study, the specific hypotheses for the second stage of

the study are:

H1: Is there a significant difference in the attractiveness of logos composed only by an icon, only by

a name, or both?

H2: Is there a significant difference in the attractiveness of black logos compared to coloured logos?

A lab experiment was set up to test the hypotheses. In particular, a multi-factorial repeated measure

design (Field and Hole, 2013) was deployed, with two independent variables (1) logo typology

and (2) colour and one dependent variable: attractiveness of logos.

The aim was to test if logo design (specifically, icon and/or name as described by subjects in stage

one) and logo colour (specifically, black versus coloured logos), has a significant impact on affect

toward the logo. It should be emphasized that the aim of the experimental study is not to determine

which logo icon shape, or which brand name, or logo colour produces higher affect but rather to

generalize on the relevance of the logo design characteristics identified by customers in stage one.

A designer created the logos for a fake company (as in Jun et al, 2008). We build on Jun et al (2008)

model and tested two (instead of one) icon designs, and two (instead of one) brand names, their

combination, and two colours (in addition to black). Testing two levels of the same variable allows to

be more confident in the generalization of the results, since we can disentangle the effect of the

specific design from the effect of logo characteristics in general.

Designing the logos appositely for the experiment, instead of using existing logos, allows to

manipulate the stimuli according to the higher-level design dimensions proposed by Henderson and

Cote (1998) and therefore to be more confident in generalizing on the results. As discussed in the

Theoretical Background section, according to Henderson and Cote (1998) the most relevant icon

design dimensions are: Harmony, Elaboration, Parallels, Repetition of elements, Proportion,

Roundness, and Naturalness. Icon 1 is developed to have a low degrees of harmony, elaboration,

parallels, repetition of elements, proportion and a high degree of roundness. On the contrary Icon 2

has high degrees of harmony, elaboration, parallels, repetition of elements, proportion and a low

degree of roundness (see Figure 2 a-b). The dimension of naturalness was avoided since, as denoted

by Hynes (2009, p. 548), the meaning of an image influences the expectation of colour (e.g., an

image depicting the sun is expected to be yellow) and is culturally dependent. Pittard et al (2007, p.

246) sustain that a high degree of complexity of the logo design enhances the chance that preference

will be influenced by a series of alternative design variables than those tested. Therefore, caution was

taken in order to minimize complexity to keep the focus on the variables to be tested.

For the coinage of the brand names to be tested, a similar approach was adopted: Name 1 was short

and composed mainly of consonants, as opposed to Name 2, which was longer and rich in vowels

(see Figure 2c-d). For comparability reasons a single typeface (specifically Futura) was chosen for

both names. Typeface was not varied to avoid confounding effects (for an extended discussion on

logo typeface effect see Henderson et al, 2004), especially since the results of stage one of the study

showed that logo typeface is not an evident characteristic for customers. As in the case of icons,

abstract names were preferred over meaningful names because these could have generated some

colour expectancies. It should be noted that the study was conducted in 2015, that is, before the

Brexit phenomenon; therefore, this unfortunate similarity of our stimuli with the political issue, did

not have an effect on the study results.

In addition to testing these two icons and two names independently, four possible combinations were

created for a total of eight different logo design options (see Figure 2e-h).

Figure 2. Experimental conditions for logo design

The test Hypothesis 2, regarding the effect of colour, the logo design options (Fig. 2) are displayed in

black and in two colours with opposite luminosity: blue and orange. The colour blue was chosen as it

is a primary colour and the most used colour in the context of business in western society (Duarte,

2008). Orange represents the complementary colour to blue, according to the colours wheel (Itten,

2010). The tone of orange colour used for the experimental stimuli was the exact opposite of the

primary blue colour, positioned at the opposite pole of the twelve-share chromatic colour wheel

(Itten, 2010). The aim of testing different colours is to determine the effect of colour in general,

versus black logos, rather than testing the effect of a specific colour.

We deployed a within subject experimental design so that all participants rated all logo design

options. The questionnaire design is similar to the one employed by Henderson and Cote (1998).

Subjects were asked to evaluate each logo on a seven-point semantic differential scale, ranging from

unattractive to attractive. With a procedure similar to the one deployed by Machado et al (2015) we

aimed to capture the latent variable of affect toward the different categories of logo design, and not

toward a specific design. Afterwards demographic data and control questions were collected. The
first draft of the questionnaire contained 30 questions (8 logo design options in three colours, plus 6

control questions). A pre-test showed that subjects demonstrated fatigue and boredom, and perceived

the questionnaire as too long. Therefore, the questionnaire was shortened by reducing the questions

related to colour orange logos to three logo designs (instead of eight); since the purpose is to test the

effect of colour in general, it is not strictly necessary to test all eight logo design options (brand icon

and/or name) for both colours (blue and orange).

3.3.2 Experimental results

The questions ware administered online and respondents were recruited on Swiss universities-related

platforms. The final experimental sample consists of 209 subjects, different from the subjects of

stage one of the study. From the original full sample of 223 collected responses, the answers of 14

subjects had to be discarded; one person reported to be colour blinded, three people reported to be

expert in graphic design or to have experience with logo design, and ten people claimed to recognise

one of the logos, even if this is not possible because they were created appositely for this study.

Henderson and Cote (1998) term this phenomenon as false recognition, which occurs when people

believe they have seen the logo when they actually have not. This relatively high level of false

recognition can be interpreted as positive, because it indicates that the stimuli used in the experiment

could indeed represent real brand logos since they were mistaken for such.

The gender representation of the sample was balanced with 48% of females and 52% of males.

Students represented the majority of the occupation of the population (84%) and the median age of

the sample was 23. Most of the participants were Swiss (86%), 8% were German and the remaining

participants were from other Swiss neighbouring countries (Austria, France, Italy and Lichtenstein)

bur residing in Switzerland.

Responses were obtained in the form of a repeated-measure design using a single group of subjects,

hence the data was analysed using a factorial repeated-measure ANOVA. In order to test the

hypotheses, indicators (i.e., logo design options) for the same construct (latent affect toward the

brand logo) were aggregated. Bonferronis tests were conducted to adjust for multiple comparisons
(as in Machado et al, 2015) because it is rather conservative test that guarantees control over Type I

error (Field and Hole, 2013). Test of sphericity (Mauchly's W) was non significant for both outcome

variables, therefore the ANOVAs could be conducted without any adjustment.

The main effect of logo typology

Logo design options for the latent variable of affect toward the brand logo were aggregated: the

descriptive statistics are displayed in Table 1. The ANOVA revealed a significant main effect of the

logo typology (icon and/or name) on attractiveness of logos F(2)=47.21, p<.001 which is visualized

in Figure 3.

Specifically, contrasts (analysed with Bonferroni adjustments for multiple comparisons, and shown

in Table 2) revealed that logos composed only by an icon are perceived as significantly more

attractive than brand logos composed only by a name (p<.001). In addition, brand logo composed by

a name plus an icon (together) are perceived as more attractive than logos composed by only a name

or only an icon (p<.001 and p.<.001 respectively).

Table 1. Descriptive statistics of brand icon and name attractiveness

Mean Std. Deviation N

Only icon 3.13 1.103 209
Only name 2.92 .975 209
Icon and name 3.53 1.068 209

Table 2. Significance testing of logo attractiveness for brand icon and name

Contrasts Mean
Difference Std. Error Sig.a
Name - Icon -.206* .079 .028
Icon - Icon and name -.408 .064 .000
Name - Icon and name -.614 .069 .000
Based on estimated marginal means

*. The mean difference is significant at the <.05 level;

** The mean difference is significant at the <.001 level;

a. Adjustment for multiple comparisons: Bonferroni.

Figure 3. The main effect of logo typology on logo attractiveness

The descriptive statistics (means and standard deviation) for all 19 logo design options (for black,

blue and orange colour) are offered in the Appendix (Table B).

The main effect of colour

The same statistical procedure was employed to test the effect of colour. We will first present the

comparison and colour black and blue since these colours ware tested for all logo design options, and

only later we will discuss the colour orange.

The descriptive statistics for the effect of black and blue logos are reported in Table 3. The ANOVA

indicates a significant main effects of colour on the attractiveness of the logos: F(1)=175.95, p<.001

with logos in black colour being perceived as significantly more attractive compared to blue logos.

Table 3. Descriptive statistics of logo colour (black and blue) attractiveness

Logo colour Mean Std. Deviation N

Black logos 3.68 .985 209

Blue logos 2.88 1.008 209

With Bonferroni correction.

*Sig.<.05, **Sig.<.001 two tailed
The detailed results are visualized in Figure 6, where we overlay the specific results of each logo

design option in black and in blue colour. We present the results in groups of three logo design

options with the aim to facilitate the comparison process. The graphs help to see the two main

findings described above: The attractiveness of black and blue logo design options follow parallel

tracks, with blue logos always being perceived as less attractive compared to the same logo design in

black colour. Secondly, for all four quadrants we see that the combination of the brand name and

brand icon is always perceived as more attractive than the brand name or brand icon alone.

Figure 4. The effect of logo typology and colour on logo attractiveness

We also tested the effect of a second colour, namely orange, and be able to discern the effect of a

specific colour (i.e., blue) from the general effect of coloured logos. We tested the colour orange only

for a subset of logo design options for the reasons explained in the study design section: one brand

icon, one brand name and their combination (specifically: the logotype Uromia, the squared icon

and their combination).

The descriptive statistics are provided in Table 4. The results of the factorial repeated-measure

ANOVA showed that there was also in this case a significant main effect of the colour level on the
attractiveness of logos: F(2)=81.08, p<.001. In particular, contrast (Table 5, Figure 5) show that

black logos have a significantly higher attractiveness than orange logos (p<.001) and orange logos

have a significantly higher attractiveness of blue logos (p<.001). A detailed discussion of the

meaning of these results is provided in the following section.

Table 4. Descriptive statistics of logo colour (black, blue and orange) attractiveness

Logo colour Mean Std. Deviation N

Black logos (3 design options) 3.68 1.241 209

Blue logos (3 design options) 2.74 1.049 209

Orange logos (3 design options) 3.01 1.199 209

Table 5. Significance testing of logo attractiveness for logo colour (contrasts)


Difference Std. Error Sig.a

Black - Blue .938* .073 .000

Black - Orange .665* .080 .000

Blue - Orange -.273* .064 .000

Based on estimated marginal means

*. The mean difference is significant at the <.05 level;

** The mean difference is significant at the <.001 level;

a. Adjustment for multiple comparisons: Bonferroni.

Figure 5. The main effect of logo colour (black, blue and orange) on logo attractiveness


4.1 Summary of the results

This study makes two main contributions to theory and to practice. Firstly, it finds that customers

describe and differentiate unknown logos according to two main logo characteristics: the

composition brand logo elements (brand icon only, brand name only or both) and logo colour (black

or coloured). Secondly, it verifies that these two logo characteristics are relevant for determining

logos attractiveness. In particular, we find that unknown logos composed of a brand icon plus a brand

name are perceived as more attractive compared to logos composed by a brand icon or by a brand

name alone. We also found that black logos are perceived as significantly more attractive compared

to coloured logos. Elaboration on the implications of these findings continues in the paragraphs


The major novelty of this study is the customer-based approach: in contrast to existing studies which

are based on theories or experts opinion, we asked subjects to identify which logo characteristics

they found most relevant. We then tested their relevance and, according to the experimental results,

logos composed of both an icon and a name are perceived as significantly more attractive compared

to logo composed only by an icon or only by a name, before any branding effort is made. This

customer-based perspective allowed us to uncover an important gap in current literature: most studies

focused on investigating separately icon design or brand names (Arora et al, 2015), but rarely their


4.2 Theoretical contribution

These findings add to logo and brand strategy (Henderson and Cote, 1998) by identifying original

and significant logo design characteristics for novel brands. While most brand logo researchers have

adopted an expert perspective, we provide an innovation by explicitly asking customers to identify

which logo design characteristics which are most evident to them. Findings are surprising with

respect to extant literature: the large majority of customers distinguish logos based on two key

characteristics: brand logo elements (icon, name or both) and brand logo colour. While the effect of

logo colour has been previously investigated (Kilic et al, 2011), the attractiveness of logo design

elements (brand icon and brand name) combinations for new brands had been rarely considered by

the academic community. We were able to reveal this important gap in the literature through a novel

methodology in the realm of brand logos, namely the multiple visual sorting technique (Coxon, 1999;

Rugg and McGeorge, 2005).

With a lab experiment, we tested the relevance of the major customer-identified logo design

characteristics and demonstrated that they both have a significant impact on logo attractiveness.

Previous studies, by contrast, focused on investigating more fine grained icon design characteristics,

such as roundness (Zhang et al, 2006; Walsh et al, 2011), naturalness (Hynes, 2009) and the related

concept of concreteness (Machado et al, 2015). Our research builds on the Corporate Visual Identity

model of Jun, Cho and Kwon (2008) and extends it by testing multiple brand elements options and

their combinations (two brand icons, two brand name and four combinations). The novelty of our

work is also to be found in the specific focus on new logos development, in contrast with existing

research, which concentrates on logos of well-known companies (e.g., Salgado-Montejo et al, 2014)

or logo redesign (e.g., Walsh et al, 2010).

Our study also reveals that customers consider important a number of secondary logo design

characteristics (in addition to colour and logo design elements discussed above): logos with or

without an outline, logos with round versus angular shapes, logos composed of capital or lowercase

letters, and abstract versus descriptive logos (see Fig. 1). These findings indicate that there are logo

design characteristics important to the customers which have not yet been investigated by the

academic community, such as the effect of 1) logo outline and 2) logotype with capital or lowercase

letters. These results provide important directions for future research: interested researchers could

investigate if and how these logo design characteristics influence affect toward the logo.

4.3 Practical contribution

The attractiveness of logos is important because affect toward the components of visual identity is

proved to lead to more positive company attitudes and purchase intention (Jun et al, 2007, pg.

382). With this study, we provide a simple and effective guideline for entrepreneurs, managers and

logo designers to increase the attractiveness of new logos: develop logos composed of both an icon

and the brand name. According to our study, this easy-to-implement recommendation will make

customers perceive the new logo as more attractive and this will increase the positive attitude toward

the brand before any advertising or branding effort is made. This finding calls into question current

logo design practices since a large number of logos are composed only by wordmarks (Wheeler,

2003; Jun et al, 2008) with the company name (without an icon).

A second important brand design element to consider for increasing brand logo attractiveness is the

logo colour: the results of our study seems to indicate that black logos are perceived as more

attractive compared to blue and orange logos. As there is evidence that colour preferences are

culturally dependent (Jun et al, 2008; Kilic, 2011) and industry-specific (Hynes, 2009), the advice for

logo designers is to test the effect of logo colours with the specific target audience.

In contrast with the majority of brand management studies that focus on well-established brands, we

concentrated on providing useful guideline for developing novel brand logos. This can be particularly

useful for start-ups and SMEs.


Our research proposed a new approach to investigate novel logo design by adopting a customer-

based perspective. The findings of the multiple picture sorting study provide direction for future

research: the present study tested the relevance of the two most named logo design characteristics

emerged. Yet, the secondary logo design characteristics identified by the customers still call for

investigation, in particular the effect of logo outline and of the capital versus lowercase letters of

logos (as described in the third section).

Moreover, future experimental studies could test more design options for each identified logo design

characteristic. For instance, in our study we employed three colours: in order to gain a more

comprehensive understanding of this variable, additional tonalities of colour and colour combinations

(Madden, 2000; Hynes, 2009) should be tested. With the same rationale, more brand name typefaces

options could be investigated in combination with icons.

Since most participants were students, the generalizability of the results is limited to younger

consumers. Further testing is needed to confirm that these findings are transferrable to other age

groups. A related question is the cultural transferability of the results: The choice of limiting the

sample to a cultural area (Switzerland and neighbouring countries) has the advantage of avoiding the

confounding effects of culture. As a tradeoff, the results are not necessarily generalizable to a

worldwide audience since aesthetic preferences are partially dependent on culture (Zhang et al, 2006;

Jun et al, 2008; Kilic, 2011). Future research should replicate the study in diverse cultural context

such as Asia or North America (as in: Henderson et al, 2003) to identify if and how cross-cultural

differences influence perception of logo attractiveness.

In conclusion, this study introduced a novel technique to investigate logo design preferences and

uncovered two relevant logo design characteristics that can significantly increase the attractiveness of

new logos. The authors hope that this work will help to inspire future research addressing this topic

with the aim to support entrepreneurs and SMEs develop attractive brands.


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Table A. List of companies utilized as stimuli for the multiple sorting technique questionnaire

(logos are not reported because of copyright)

List A: List B:

Air Studio Novamem LLC

Strekin Beekeeper

1ofa100 A.G. OpenPloyer

Probel Hypo Pet AG

Local Cords Swiss Block

Ziano Glycemicon

Aware Plus Cureab

ElementCheck Exurbe cosmetics

Media Care Solutions (Mecaso) Smart-me

Flyability Qloudlab

J. Scheidt and J. Wokittel Partnership Geopraevent

GPST Zurich Biomaterials

Mediahead MOGS

Offertube Carpasus

SmargeTech Grydl

Table B. Descriptive Statistics for all logo design options

Logo design Mean Std. Deviation N

3.39 1.611 209


(black) 3.65 1.541 209

4.01 1.464 209


3.55 1.547 209


2.85 1.343 209


3.99 1.466 209


4.23 1.437 209


3.82 1.481 209


2.55 1.444 209


(blue) 2.71 1.310 209

2.79 1.429 209


3.04 1.454 209


2.50 1.152 209


3.40 1.448 209


3.22 1.342 209


2.84 1.379 209


2.74 1.381 209


(orange) 3.17 1.427 209

3.14 1.509 209