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How to create a logo that everyone will recognize

Good logos come from concept testing surveys

Creating and choosing a logo should be a fun, rewarding project. Right? But it can also be a nerve-wracking, emotionally-charged experience due to the potentially subjective nature of choosing the best logo. Luckily you can put some science behind the art of choosing a logo. Surveys are an effective, objective cost-efficient way to figure out the optimal logo for your company, project or brand.

So what exactly is a logo anyway? A logo is a visual expression of your brand. It is not the brand itself, but an emblematic representation of your company. When people talk about logos, there are two main types: logomarks and logotypes. Logomarks are usually pictures or imagery (e.g., the Nike swoosh) whereas a logotype is text-based (e.g., Coca-Cola).

Regardless of what type(s) of logo you are considering, you’ll want to concept test your logo before launching it in market. Concept tests can help you figure out what your customers think and how they’ll react to your proposed logo design. You’ll find out what they like, what they don’t like, and why.

There are several things you can test with this type of survey:

  • Brand fit: What does your brand stand for? If your brand’s attributes are reliable, trustworthy and friendly you’ll want to make sure your logo communicates these attributes, too. A logo is one of many elements that express your brand. By testing different logos, you’ll find out which design reinforces – rather than contradicts! – what your marketing and sales team is trying to communicate.
  • Legibility: Your logo design may be beautiful, but do people understand it? If it features text, can they actually read it? Concept test allows you to explore different fonts, colors and designs to optimize comprehension. If you’re testing a logo for use online, make sure you’re showing an accurate size. If your logo is appearing on a mobile web site, for example, will it still be legible on that small screen?
  • Appeal: People may be able to read your logo, but do they like it too? What people like is subjective and they often can’t articulate why they like something…they just feel good about it. Go back to your brand attributes and decide whether an emotional connection to your logo is important for success.

There are also different ways to perform logo testing:

  • Present all logos at once: You can do a force choice survey and have customers select a logo based on whatever attribute(s) is most important. For example, what is the best representation of trust? Or helpfulness? By presenting all of the options at once, you’ll get a sense of the relative measure for each design.
  • Split test logos: If you don’t want to show all the logos at once, you can present different designs to a similar target audience to get their input on the individual designs. For split testing, you could show Logo A to 25% of target customers, Logo B to 25% of customers and so on. This methodology is less about how one logo design compares to another but rather how each one fares on its own.
  • Test with different audiences: Regardless of whether you test logos in batches or individually, you may also want to get them in front of different audiences. Women with young kids, for example, may have a very different reaction to empty nesters.

Once you have narrowed down your options to a winner or two, you can also go back and test the logo in context. Logos usually don’t exist in a vacuum but rather are an element of your brand identity. Drop your proposed logo options on letterhead, a package and an ad and see if your customers’ reactions are similar to your original concept test. You can continue to use surveys iterate until you find the best logo…that everyone can agree on!

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