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"The Shape of a Logo Has a Powerful Impact on Consumers"

When the clothing retailer the Gap attempted to refresh its logo in 2010, the reaction from the public and the shareholders was harsh. One Harvard Business Review writer declared, “[T]he logo looks like something my pet hamster could cook up in PowerPoint.”

But new research suggest that there’s more to a logo than its basic aesthetic appeal. The study, conducted by an international team of researchers, suggests that people make complex assessments of a company or product based merely on the shape of the logo.

“Five experiments document that the mere circularity and angularity of a brand logo is powerful enough to affect perceptions of the attributes of a product or company,” the researchers write in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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Sounds like shapes matter.

Previous marketing research has suggested that circular shapes activate associations with softness, while angular shapes tend to activate associations with hardness. However, lead author Yuwei Jiang (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) and colleagues found that these associations extend far beyond a product’s physical qualities; people not only associated round logos with physical “softness” but the roundness or angularity of a logo also had the power to conjure up complex associations.

For example, a round logo might evoke associations related to “softness,” including perceptions that a company is caring, warm, and sensitive to customer needs.

With this in mind, the research team hypothesized that products advertised with circular logos would result in perceptions of greater product comfortableness, while angular logos would result in perceptions of heightened durability. Additionally, the researchers anticipated that logo designs would also influence broad perceptions of a company – such as customer service quality.

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