We can recall most company names just by seeing their logos. But can we recall the details of the logo itself without actually seeing it?
Signs.com recently asked over 150 Americans to draw 10 famous logos from memory.
Those drawings were then judged based on features (Walmart’s sunburst), proportions (Foot Locker’s tiny referee), and color palettes (Burger King and 7-Eleven’s tricky color trios).
The drawings were a little, ummm, hit or miss.
In the words of Signs.com: “The results reveal that, far from being stamped perfectly in our collective memory, these ubiquitous emblems largely exist as fuzzy visions in our mind’s eye.” (See the study here.)
That’s probably not what marketers and designers want to hear, but it does highlight a few critical considerations for your small business logo. We’ll dive into those below.
But first, here’s the percent of folks who drew nearly perfect or good versions of each company’s logo.
- IKEA 86%
- Target 77%
- 7-Eleven 65%
- Burger King 58%
- Adidas 56%
- Apple 55%
- Domino’s 44%
- Walmart 43%
- Foot Locker 33%
- Starbucks 23%
Now, on to the implications for your own small business logo.
1. Strong Colors Are an Important First Step
How many dots are on the domino? Is the bite on the left or right side of the apple? Is the mermaid wearing seashells or skinny-dipping?
Most people are very bad at remembering details. However, they’re really good at remembering colors.
While only 59% of people knew that the Target bullseye was a solid middle circle with a single ring around it, 100% of them knew the bullseye was red.
Meanwhile, 72% of folks correctly drew the Apple logo in either grey or black monochrome, even though Apple has employed five different color palettes in the last four decades – including a friggin’ rainbow from 1977 to 1998.
Overall, around 80% of folks used the correct color palettes in their logo drawings. So, start with a strong color palette and build from there.
2. Pick Your Small Business Logo… and Stick with It
Whether it’s a minor tweak or a major overhaul, changes to our logos confuse our customers. I mean, five people actually striped the Apple in a rainbow of colors. (The average age of the rainbow die-hards was 42.)
So, yeah, longevity matters.
IKEA has used the same logo since 1983 – two years before it opened its first U.S. store. That’s right. For any American to have experienced the old IKEA logo, they would have to have traveled to Europe nearly four decades ago!
Similarly, 7-Eleven has had the same logo since 1969.
No wonder IKEA and 7-Eleven were two of the top three logos in the study.
3. Use the Same Imagery Across Your Marketing
Sports teams often use secondary symbols in addition to their logos. My beloved Arizona State Sun Devils’ primary mark is a pitchfork, but they’ll also wear an old-school smiling devil or an outline of the state of Arizona.
What works in sports does not work in business branding.
A lot of folks were confused by the secondary marketing images employed by Burger King (21% of people drew a crown), Foot Locker (14% drew an athletic shoe), Adidas (8% added the color blue from the product packaging), and Walmart (3% drew a smiley face).
On the other hand, 90% of people remembered the iconic mermaid that’s been the go-to image for Starbucks since it opened.
4. Keep Your Small Business Logo Simple, Stupid
Although most of us love the Starbucks mermaid, few of us recall what she actually looks like. Only 55% remembered her crown and only 16% of them remembered the star in the center. Meanwhile, 55% forgot she had two tails!
Other common faux pas included 33% of people connecting Apple’s leaf with a stalk (it’s actually just floating there) and 20% of people placing a hat on top of the Foot Locker referee’s head.
Think about the top-performing logos in the study. Ikea, Target, and 7-Eleven are all incredibly simple.
Keep simplicity in mind when you design your small business logo!