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20 January 2015

Which came first, the brand or the logo?

When most people think ‘brand’, they think of a logo. McDonalds, Nike and Starbucks, are recognized the world over, but a logo is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to branding.

When Hershey, the US chocolate giant, unveiled their new logo earlier this year, it was met by overwhelmingly negative response. According to exclusive research by Brandwatch, commissioned by Marketing Week, 97 per cent of online mentions about the new logo were negative.

Brandwatch, which crawls through 70 million websites, social networks and news sites, found 2,456 comments about the logo likened it to the ‘poo emoji’, an icon used in text messages and social media. Not really what the confectioners were aiming for!

What Hershey’s rather expensive mistake does show us is that a logo is actually quite important, and reflects heavily on the company or brand. 

A logo is not a brand

As Su Matthews Hale of the design firm Lippencott explains, "a company's logo is its shorthand, a visual cue that tells a story of the brand's culture, behavior, and values." A logo can send out all sorts of signals about who you are and what you do.

To get you head around it all, it might help to think about what you wear every day. If you don a tracksuit, people won’t think you’re off to the office. If you wear a suit, they certainly won’t think you’re off to muck out the horses!

We read the visual symbols all day long. Our experience and cultural knowledge help us to subconsciously make sense of it all, so we understand that a pair of muddy wellies are not suitable for the office and stilettos are a killer on the treadmill.

All in the mind

It’s all to do with neuroscience, a subject we love here at ifour! Neuro marketing company Neurofocus recently did a little study into the aborted logo revamp of the clothing giant Gap. (If you’re geeky about this stuff, which we are, then you can take a look at the full report.) But, in a nutshell, what they discovered was that our brains make hundreds of associations with fonts and colours, which create an emotional response to what we see. In Gap’s case, it wasn’t a great one, but, thankfully, they had time to back peddle before they rolled out billions of dollars worth of changes. 

Testing, testing

The emotions we feel toward a logo should reflect those of the brand itself. If the two don’t go hand in hand then you run the risk of sending out mixed messages, which will only lead your customers to distrust you. So, it’s best to get a little bit of professional help with these things!

Despite the range of graphic design software out there, it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees when designing your own logo. Because you live and breathe your brand, day-in, day-out, the subconscious associations you bring are very different to those that your customers bring.

Perhaps this is where the guys at Hershey went wrong. Their new logo was supposed to be a stylized image of the company’s leading ‘Hershey’s Kisses’ product. With that in mind you can see where they are coming from. But most of us aren’t quite familiar enough with the product to make that link, which is why market research is oh so important! Testing the reaction to your logo on a group completely unaware of your brand is a great way to really see if the emotional switches that it flicks are the right ones!

Where to start

As you probably know, branding and design is what we live and breathe, so if you’re wondering if your brand has got too big for your current logo, or are thinking that it’s about time you actually got one designed properly, then get in touch. Take a look at some of the companies we’ve already given a helping hand to and give us a call on 01892 541111, email us at [email protected] or visit our design agency studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

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project budget£5000 - £18000

deadline 4 weeks - 8 weeks

what next? if you like what we do, get in touch to find out how our design agency can help you.

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