Logos certainly have played a large part in my career; I’ve provided them for everything from small coffee shops to national staffing firms. But now I’m wondering if every enterprise really needs one.
Logos – from the Greek for “word” – are symbols that represent an organization or company, a short-hand adjunct to its name. You won’t have to think long to come up with some of the world’s most successful logos – the McDonald’s arches, the Nike swoosh, Coca-Cola’s red script.
In his fascinating book, Buyology, Martin Lindstrom relates the results of the largest neuromarketing research study ever undertaken. Using MRI technology that was not available even a few years ago, Lindstrom and a team of scientists tested all sorts of advertising and marketing assumptions among people around the globe.
One of the astonishing findings was that there might be even more effective ways to remind people about our company or product than by flashing them a logo. In one series of tests, smokers were shown a mixture of overt messages – ads and images featuring Camel and Marlboro logos – and covert messages – unbranded images of desert scenes or western vistas.
Predictably, the overt logos lit up the craving and pleasure centers of test subjects’ brains; the tobacco companies have invested billions building that reaction.
What surprised Lindstrom, though, was that the test subjects’ brain centers lit up even more powerfully when looking at the “evocative” images – the non-logo images. Other tests showed similar results.
Perhaps the logos actually HURT the response, since everyone summons some degree of sales resistance when presented with an obvious advertising message.
Don’t trash your “mark” yet but be thinking about how you could add more subliminal dimension to your brand through the use of consistent imagery, color, sound and even smell (which may be the most “brandable” sense.)
Maybe success really does smell sweet.