by Michael Bloch
What springs to your mind when the term "golden arches" is mentioned? It's most likely you think of McDonalds. A recent study has shown just how powerful branding can be, particularly on the young, and for me it's also a reminder how much responsibility is on marketer's shoulders.
63 children were surveyed in a recent study to examine the impact of heavy marketing and brand exposure on young children in relation to taste preferences. The children were asked to indicate if identical foods and beverages in different packaging tasted the same or better. One lot of packaging was generic, the other had McDonalds branding and logos.
You can probably guess what the result was.
- Close to 77% stated that the fries in the McDonald's packaging tasted better
- 54% gave preference to McDonald's-wrapped carrots compared to 23% favoring the plain-wrapped sample.
- Less than a quarter stated both samples of all foods tasted the same
The carrot example is particularly interesting given that McDonalds didn't stock such a product at the time of the study. I was a huge fan of McDonald's when growing up and even though I rarely eat it now for reasons I won't go into, as I'm typing this and looking at the Mickey D's logo, my stomach is growling and memories of my childhood are returning.
And it's not as though McDonalds was a regular visit for us as kids, it was a special treat. I can still even remember the "Two All-Beef Patties Special Sauce Lettuce Cheese Pickles Onion... etc." spiel I needed to memorize in order to get a cricket poster from Mickey D's - and that was over 25 years ago. Their marketers did their job well on me.
Awe-inspiring from a marketing point of view but somewhat scary at the same time, isn't it?
Branding is such an important part of any business; even the logo aspect. I mentioned the Golden Arches at the beginning of this post and I'd bet that many of you could quite accurately draw the McDonalds logo. Think about some of the biggest brands in the world - it's likely that you'd be able to draw those as well even if you're not particularly artistic. Taming the Beast.net doesn't really have a logo as such, just a caricature of my ugly mug. The reasons for this I'll detail further in another article on the subject of caricature marketing. Using a caricature *can* work well, but it has limited applications.
Logo design tips
What about your own logo? Is it complex or easy to reproduce? Simple shapes are easier to remember - and that's part of the branding process; catchy rhymes and jingles, brief slogans and simple logos. Artistic statement is nice, but easy recall is the key.
If your logo requires the skills of an artist to reproduce, it might be time to consider something less complex with fewer lines and colors. You'd be amazed what a skilled logo designer can do with a word or symbol.
Your reworked logo doesn't have to be a total departure from your current logo as change can confuse clients, but a good graphic designer can take what you have and make a simpler version of it; allowing current customers who are somewhat "branded" to still make a rapid mental association. Brand recognition takes a while to develop, so try not to threaten what you've already built by creating a logo that's a total departure from your current one.
You'll need to decide whether you want an:
- Illustrative logo - depicts your products or services
- Iconic log - a stylized/abstract representation of your business's product
- Font-based logo - a sometimes decorative font with the words arranged and presented in a way that makes it distinctive.
Remember that it's not critically important to have an image that represents your products and services. Think of the big companies like Shell. It uses a shell icon - nothing to do with oil. McDonalds is the same, the golden arches don't represent burgers or food in any way. Pepsi's logo has no connection to soda.
Aspect ratios of a logo are important. Long or tall logos can be difficult to incorpor