3 Ways Your Logo Influences The Perception of Your Brand
Updated: Jun 5
At the beginning of the first semester of my sophomore year in college, one of my professors had a surprise for all of us students that decided to take his class. The professor, who told us that he preferred we call him by his nickname 'Paul,' was sort of a big guy with a very fun and outgoing personality (very similar to Kevin James’ role as Doug Heffernan on the television show King of Queens).
By the end of the first week of taking Paul’s class, which was the second time us students had attended his class, we were all shocked as we entered his classroom.
As each student entered through the doors of Paul’s classroom and took our seats, something caught all of our eyes—demanding our undivided attention. In the front of the class, where Paul had made his initial lecture—was a table filled with gifts. As Paul watched the last student enter his classroom, he rose from his desk chair with a smile on his face.
After Paul seemed to revel in seeing the puzzled looks on our faces, he finally explained that as a gesture of his appreciation for us taking the course, he wanted to give us all a gift; that we could only receive on our way out after his lecture. While Paul walked around the classroom lecturing, I noticed that most of my classmates’ attention remained fixated on the table full of gifts—which were all covered in gold wrapping paper with a white emblem in front of them with the letters ‘NH’ written in gold.
At the end of the lecture (which I’m sure was a great one), Paul instructed us to come to the table to receive our gifts—which he handed one-by-one to each student. His only request was that we opened our gift outside of the classroom and not litter the campus.
As the vast majority of us students anxiously unwrapped our gifts a few feet outside of the classroom—we were dispirited to find out that the gifts were simply composition notepads. On the inside of the front cover of all of our notepads read “There’ll be no homework this week. So enjoy your weekend. — Paul.” Now, to this day, I’m not sure if Paul knows this, or did this intentionally, but what he may have thought was just a fun joke—taught me a significant marketing lesson (like many of his lectures did).
1. They provide visual metaphors
Looking back, I believe that the reason why most of us students were so let down when we found out what our gifts were—was because Paul (being a jokester) had not only taken the time to neatly wrap them in gold wrapping paper; the letters ‘NH’ inside of the white emblem almost served as a logo.
Had Paul simply wrapped the gifts in newspaper or even brown wrapping paper and not included the emblem and two letters—we probably wouldn’t have had such grandiose expectations of what they could be.
The marketing lesson that Paul taught me that day was that logos, as well as a product’s packaging—serve as visual metaphors.
“A visual metaphor is a symbol that can bring an invisible product to life.” Writes author and brand consultant, Laura Ries, in her book, Visual Hammer. “How do you visualize ‘insurance,’ for example? You can’t. That’s why insurance companies are big users of visual metaphors or symbols. These symbols can be strong visual hammers.”
One brand that does a great job at utilizing its visual metaphor is Allstate. Allstate’s logo serves as a great visual metaphor for a brand that cares. Their logo, which consists of a word mark and two-hands inside of an emblem; perfectly aligns with their now former slogan, “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate.”
2. Logos drive distinction
Let’s be honest, whenever you hear the words 'Mercedes-Benz,' the first thing that you think of probably isn’t the brand’s slogan, which is “The Best or Nothing.” Or just how great their cars are engineered. If you’re like me, the very first thing that comes to mind whenever you hear the words Mercedes-Benz, is the brand’s logo; which distinctly drives thoughts of luxury into the minds of consumers (no pun intended).
Recently, Pepsi unveiled the first change to its logo in 14 years; which is set to debut in North America this fall and will go global in 2024. Pepsi’s objective for the logo change is to continue driving distinction by modernizing the image of the brand—while also boldly connecting future generations to Pepsi’s history.
“We couldn't be more excited to begin a new era for Pepsi, as this exciting new and modern look will drive brand distinction to show up bigger and bolder and help people find new ways to unapologetically enjoy the things they love.” Said Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s Chief Marketing Officer.
If you’re currently considering a new logo for your brand, keep in mind that a brand is a set of promises. Your logo will simply serve as a symbol that represents those promises.
3. Convey tone
For over the last 100 years, TIME has been one of the most popular news magazines in America. But have you ever noticed that TIME doesn’t have some clever logo that tells a story about what the brand stands for? Instead, Time’s logo is simply a word mark.
And while the typeface of the TIME logo has changed throughout the years—you’ll never see the logo drastically change from the way that it looks today.
That’s because TIME’s logo aims to convey the tone of the magazine; which is serious. As opposed to the quirky logos of the old Mad Magazine (which aimed to convey a humorous tone).
Whether intentional or not, your logo will convey a tone about your brand to everyone that sees it. Which is why it is so important to intentionally direct the way that your brand will be perceived by the public as much as possible by making sure that your logo conveys a tone that is congruent with how you’d want your brand to be viewed.
And that begins with tone. Which could be one of:
As previously stated, a logo symbolizes a brand; which is a set of expectations. And the way that your logo looks will initially help determine what your audience will expect from your brand. Therefore, it is crucial that the tone your logo conveys to the public aligns with how you would like your audience to feel about your brand.