The Psychology of Logo Design: How to Influence Perceptions Through Branding

January 11, 2018


“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” - Paul Rand


A business can say everything without saying anything at all. People look at a logo and can gauge a company’s character, values and sometimes even its profitability.


After all, nothing screams bad business like an unsightly or outdated logo.


The logo is the most important aspect of a brand—other than the name. It determines people’s perceptions, from first impressions to enduring associations.


Of course, style is a moving target. Companies need to take special care that their logos stay fresh and relevant in an ever-changing marketplace. If a business has evolved, grown in size, kept a logo too long or has a complex logo, it’s time for a revamp.


New Year, New Look


Like they say, there’s no time like the present. The start of a New Year is the perfect opportunity to reassess your style.


The first step is to evaluate what works and what doesn’t for your current design. Let that inform where you can improve, but don’t let aesthetics be the only defining factor.


How your logo influences perceptions depends on a number of variables, such as color, font and shape. Like everything else you communicate as a business, context is key. Whether you want to convey passion, trustworthiness or creativity—it all boils down to the psychology of your design.


This guide covers each element of design and shows the spectrum of effects they have on consumer behavior and perception. Learn the psychology to create the perfect logo for your business.


Pick Your Palette


Color has a profound psychological influence on consumers. Here are some scientific findings that demonstrate its power:


​1. People make a subconscious judgement about an environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62% to 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.

​2. Visual perceptions determine purchasing judgements in 93% of people.

​3. Over 84% of consumers cite color as their main reason for purchasing a particular product.

​4. 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.

​5. Ads in color are read up to 42% more often than the same ads in black and white.


The numbers don’t lie. Colors play a huge role in branding and even a company’s success. Which one you choose depends on a few factors: your industry, the character and values of your business, your target audience and the emotions you want to elicit.


Now, let’s break down the basics of what each color conveys and its effects.



Flaunt the Font


Bad typography is the killer of good content.


In fact, illegible or unsightly fonts actually induce a psychological aversion that alerts the brain to a potential threat. So, unless you want to agitate readers, choose a font that’s at least clean.


Beyond making text accessible, your choice in font has to match the tone your company wants to exude. It’s a subtle art—but no less crucial to your branding efforts than your color scheme.


Before getting to the psychological effects of font choice, let’s cover the four basic categories of font.


​1. Serif: These fonts contain decorative lines or “feet” on the edges of the letters for a traditional look.

2. Sans-Serif: These fonts don’t have decorative lines.

​3. Script: These fonts have the cursive or handwritten style that range from casual to elegant.

​4. Display: These fonts are more elaborate and aim to grab attention.


Now, check out what each style communicates on a cognitive level.


Shape Perceptions


The shapes in a logo design also serve as psychological tools that communicate specific points about the company.


Think about the iconic Nike swoosh for instance. It exudes power, energy and a drive for achievement. Like the swoosh, many designs can stand alone as representation, such as Twitter’s bird, McDonald’s golden arches or the Olympic’s multi-colored rings.


Others are more subtle but equally powerful, like the arrow tucked away in the negative space of FedEx or the 31 in Baskin-Robbins logo that signifies its number of ice cream flavors.


A creative use of shapes not only makes a design more dynamic but can also reinforce perceptions communicated through color and font.


When you look at how Fortune 500 companies use shapes in their logos, 50 percent use rectangles, 22 percent use squares, 20 percent use circles and only 8 percent use none.


What informs each company’s choice depends on the message they want to convey. Here’s the psychological significance of each shape.



Conception to Perfection


Perception is a powerful force, which is why companies do whatever they can to influence it. They use the logo not just as a symbol—but a tool for persuasion.


That’s why choosing a design that simply looks cool isn’t enough. What matters most is its effect on your audience. The perfect logo captures who your company is and what it values. It sets you apart from the competition.


When you have a logo with those qualities, people will notice. A memorable logo makes people more likely to want to learn more about the brand and more likely to suggest that the company is more unique than its competitors.


Of course, deciding what to convey through your logo isn’t easy. It’s your message to the world—the symbol of who you are.


The real trick, however, is figuring out how to give people a reason to look in the first place.


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ICON Creative

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Lake Oswego, OR 97034


ASA Genius Award 2017
ASA Genius Award 2017
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