When you think of any big brand, the first visual association you will make is usually with the logo. Indeed, companies can rise and fall on the strength of their brand identity. But just how memorable these emblems really are is a difficult thing to determine. Happily, Salt Lake City signage corporation Signs.com has figured out a way to test consumer recall regarding these trademarks. The organization asked 156 Americans, aged from 20 to 70, to draw ten company logos from memory. And the results on paper are something to remember.
First off, Signs.com asked the experiment’s participants to draw the Apple logo. The tech giant’s symbol, for the record, hasn’t changed much since 1977. In fact, since the iconic apple with a bite taken out was introduced, only the color scheme of the logo has been altered. Nowadays, it is back to basics for the brand, with black, white and gray versions utilized rather than the striped rainbow color scheme that was in play until 1998.
Despite the simplicity and ubiquity of Apple’s logo, however, it appears that not everyone can recall it correctly. Indeed, of the 156 people tested, 22 percent drew the bite on the left, rather than the right. And a surprising number drew the fruit in solid red, which it has never been. But 20 percent did get it almost spot on – no doubt much to the relief of Apple’s marketing team.
Next up was sportswear brand Adidas, which technically has two logos. Its trefoil logo is still used on some lines, such as Adidas Originals, but its triple-stripe design is most common. Introduced in 1997, it is a logo which is just simple enough to stump people. Which direction do the lines point? How thick are they? How steep is their angle? These are all questions that apparently made test participants question their memories.
Sure enough, then, plenty of people drew the stripes the wrong way, or not thick enough, or too straight. But a handful also managed to get the color wrong, capitalize the brand name or even draw too many stripes. One perplexed participant simply drew a brown shoe. And, predictably enough, 10 percent actually went with the trefoil logo. But while this wasn’t actually wrong, it wasn’t judged to be as right as the 12 percent who lined up the triple stripes correctly.
McDonald’s may have a name for its logo – everyone recognizes its Golden Arches – but Burger King isn’t too far behind when it comes to iconic branding. After all, its brand name in red sandwiched between two yellow burger buns is definitely a strong statement. Moreover, it is a logo that has remained pretty consistent since 1969, with the addition of a blue ring in 1999 being the only real change.
Unfortunately for B.K. bosses, however, it looks like people have not been paying enough attention to its logo updates. Indeed, a whopping 21 percent of people tested drew the old, pre-blue circle logo. And while the ratio of yellow to blue in the current I.D. is actually equal, the overwhelming color that respondents remembered was yellow. In fact, just 18 percent drew a near perfect replica.
Even pizza aficionados may have struggled with the Domino’s logo. You see, the current version of its emblem is fairly new – it was only introduced in 2013. The pizza chain originally used a square logo, with red domino red on top of a blue block that contained the words “Domino’s Pizza.” But while the 2013 rethink wasn’t a complete overhaul, Signs.com was still interested to see just how many of its test subjects had noticed the change.
In fact, only 15 percent of participants drew the pre-2013 logo, perhaps proving that a lot more people pay attention to their pizza boxes than might be assumed. Still, just 16 percent got the new logo exactly right, with a massive 55 percent forgetting the apostrophe in “Domino’s.” And a further 11 percent spelled the company’s name as “Dominoes.” Okay, maybe pizza munchers don’t pay that much attention after all…
The 7-Eleven logo has stayed pretty much the same since the convenience store’s inception in the 1920s. Down the years, its I.D. has only seen a couple of minor color changes, and its original circle background has changed to a square. The current logo has, though, been on the streets since 1969, so it has certainly stood the test of time. Whether it has stood up to the Sign.com memory test, however, is another matter.
As it turns out, the shape of the logo’s background didn’t matter too much as 59 percent of those tested didn’t bother to include it at all. Only 19 percent managed to get close to perfect, in fact, but with several difficult-to-remember details, that is perhaps not too surprising. For instance, all letters but the “n” in the word “eleven” are capitalized; a fact that only two people – or just one percent – remembered.
Foot Locker’s logo has remained unchanged since the company was founded in 1988. So really there should be no reason why anybody familiar with the brand wouldn’t at least be able to approximate it. But then again, the sportswear chain’s branding does feature a human form, which introduces a whole other set of variables.
Perhaps inevitably, the majority of the test’s participants got this one wrong. In fact, only eight percent managed to draw the logo almost perfectly, with 43 percent leaving out the referee altogether. Of those who did draw the figure, no less than 40 percent had him facing the wrong way. And for some reason, 18 percent even gave the referee a hat. Consequently, we can conclude that making a logo more complicated also makes it less memorable.
Starbucks’ dual-tailed mermaid may seem like a weird choice for a coffee shop logo, but it sort of makes sense when you think about it. After all, the chain is named after Captain Ahab’s first mate in the classic novel Moby Dick, so the “siren” featured in the logo – originally found in a 16th-century Nordic woodcut – is at least thematically on point. But would that fact help the 156 people attempting to draw it from memory? Or would they be all at sea?
Well, the answer is yes and no. While 90 percent of participants remembered the mermaid in some form, a measly six percent got the style spot on. A grande 55 percent even forgot the mermaid’s iconic double tail. And although the current simplified Starbucks logo landed in 2011, 31 percent still drew the previous version, with the company name picked out in white on an outer green circle.
In terms of revenue, Walmart is still the largest company on the planet. Operating in 28 different countries, the brand has almost 12,000 stores worldwide. And even though Walmart operates under various alternative names in different parts of the globe – Asda in the U.K. or Best Price in India, for instance – its main logo is still iconic in the U.S. and beyond.
Nevertheless, despite the simplistic and ubiquitous nature of Walmart’s logo, only 12 percent of the experiment’s subjects managed to get this one right. With six distinctively different Walmart logos over the years, however, this confusion perhaps comes as little surprise. Some 11 percent, for instance, drew an amalgamation of both the current and some of the most recent logos. Another 10 percent, meanwhile, included a hyphen in the name, which has not been seen in the I.D. since 1992.
Much like Walmart, Target is a brand that is ubiquitous around the U.S, and it has a logo which is similarly simple. In fact, all that has changed since the 1968 version of the emblem is the addition of the brand name. This was written in large black letters from 1975 to 2004, and then changed to smaller red ones in its current form. But how many of the test participants hit the Target full on?
While Walmart may be the bigger retailer, Target won out on the memorable logo front. A quarter of those tested got it pretty much correct. However, it seems that those logo changes over the years still foxed quite a few of the participants. Some 41 percent drew too many circles – the actual Target logo has three – and the same percentage forgot the brand name.
While Swedish brand Ikea’s yellow and blue color scheme is basically sacrosanct these days, it has actually only been that way since 1983. When the current logo format was introduced, it was totally black and white, and even spent a couple of years in red and white during the early 1980s. However, the basic shape of the identity has been the same since 1967 – complete with ellipse, rectangle and an all-caps brand name.
It is little wonder, then, that Ikea was the best remembered logo in the Sign.com test – and it isn’t even an American brand. Indeed, 30 percent of respondents managed to draw the furniture retailer’s logo accurately. A massive 88 percent succeeded in remembering the uppercase brand name, and a further 86 percent called those blue and yellow colors correct. Perhaps the Scandinavians’ reputation for good design is warranted after all.