Skip to main content

Apparently we've been doing logos wrong all this time

Descriptive logos
(Image credit: Business Insider)

If you want to make a successful logo that encourages shoppers to buy from you, you're better off using a descriptive logo. That's according to a recent study, which found that shoppers actually prefer this approach when compared to trendy, minimalist logos.

For some time now, a stripped-back, minimalist approach has been seen as the winning formula, but in the study more descriptive logos won out in every category. That means if you're designing a new logo, you  might want to ignore current trends and opt for a design that represents what the company sells – such as Burger King's hamburger logo (take a look at our guide to logo design for more tips).

The study, which was originally published in the Journal of Marketing Research, argues that a descriptive logo is more successful as it creates trust. Research professors from Canada, England, and France examined 597 logos with the help of 2,000 participants to discover that "logo descriptiveness can positively affect impressions of authenticity and, in turn, purchase intentions".

Descriptive logos

Descriptive logos like these give you an idea of what each service provides (Image credit: Business Insider)

Participants in the study were given descriptions of various companies, then judged their logos on their authenticity. Descriptive logos came out on top in every category. The study even goes on to say that there is a "significant positive association between logo descriptiveness and gross profit."

A good example of how a minimalist design can cause upset is the new logo Slack unveiled in January. With its pinwheel of vibrant colours on a white background, users accused it of appearing generic and unconnected to the workplace chat app.

Descriptive logos

Abstract logos generate less trust, and therefore less profit (Image credit: Business Insider)

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach though. When a company becomes big enough, it doesn't need to rely on a descriptive logo that tells people what it sells. Just take McDonald's, whose famous Golden Arches logo has nothing to do with its fast food. It's also a good example of how a textless logo can work.

However, if a company sells something unpleasant, the research suggests that a descriptive logo might not be the best solution.

Related articles: