One of the golden rules of logo design is that a logomark or wordmark should be memorable. But just how memorable can a logo be? Studies have tried to find out, often with quite amusing results.
One measure of memorability is to test whether people can recall the brand by showing them a logo, and asking who it represents. We've seen plenty of studies that have done just that. But another approach has been to give respondents a brand name and ask them to draw the logo from memory. And that's where things often end in disaster.
See our pick of the best logos of all time to see some of the designs that are most likely to pass muster. In the meantime, we'll recall below four studies that showed how difficult it can be to draw a logo from memory.
01. Car logos drawn from memory
Vanmonster asked 100 members of the British public to draw famous car logos from memory, and the results range from spookily precise to quite hilarious failures. You might think the Audi logo with its four intersecting rings would be hard to get wrong, but even that relatively simple design saw some curious interpretations in the study. Some people seemed to have confused Audi with the Olympics and even The Avengers.
Jump to a more complex logo design like that of Italy's Alfa Romeo, and things get even more challenging (see the results below, and see our pick of the best car logos on the road for successful car logo designs).
02. The Apple logo drawn from memory
The Apple logo is easy to remember, right? But even though it's one of the most recognised logos in the world, that doesn't mean people are good at recalling the specifics.
In a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 85 undergraduate students at the University of California (UCLA) were asked to draw the Apple logo from memory on a blank piece of paper. Only one could do so accurately, and some of the attempts looked more like explosive devices than fruit.
Of course, not everyone is an artist, but it's notable that it wasn't only a lack of artistic ability that was affecting the designs – key features of the design, such as the bite mark, appeared in various locations, suggesting people hadn't really taken in the specifics of the design. This was backed up by a second part of the study which found that fewer than half of the students could identify the correct version of the Apple logo when they were then shown several variations.
Researchers suggested that although we see the logo frequently, our brains may have learned that it's not important to remember the details. "An efficient memory system does not need to store the details of a corporate logo, except perhaps to distinguish counterfeit products," they concluded.
03 Football club logos drawn from memory
Football club logos can be tricky because there are often some small details going. Most participants did quite well in this study by Betsperts, who asked 100 fans to draw football badges from memory. At least the main elements of the the Arsenal logo and Chelsea logo are there, although some people weren't sure about the shape of the Arsenal badge, while with Chelsea one person could only recall that the logo is round.
04. Music logos drawn from memory
Finally, the online ticket marketplace TickPick asked over 100 members of the public to draw various music-related logos, and again the results range from impressively accurate to hilariously off the mark. In this case artistic ability was certainly one issue affecting the results, with some of the attempts clearly leaning in the right direction but held back by the execution.
However, for some of the bands and musicians it seems that respondents recalled other parts of their visual identity, suggesting that the logos are not as memorable as particular album covers, for example. In some cases, it seems respondents weren't taking the study entirely seriously.