US High Street store, The GAP’s recent brand identity crisis caused much stir within the marketing blogosphere. The new logo was hastily withdrawn, but so much publicity was generated by the event some were questioning whether it was a less a mistake than a deliberate attempt to grab some headlines. Nevertheless, Neurofocus, the world’s largest neuromarketing company, saw an opportunity to apply their neuroscience knowledge to identify the subconscious reasons behind the consumer response. Neuroscience can give us insight into the types of logos that resonate with consumers and why – in this case by measuring EEG-based brainwave activity combined with eye tracking data. In order to avoid a faux pas a la GAP, here are a few guidelines to neurological best practice:
Overlays equal Overlooked: When words overlay images, the brain tends to favour the image over the word.
Avoid Sharp Edges: Forcing the brain to view sharp angles provokes what neuroscience calls an “avoidance response”. This may be because our brains are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges and we find it subconsciously unnerving to focus on them.
Use Interesting Fonts: Research has shown that the subconscious prefers fonts that are a little unusual, i.e. being a little bit ‘funky’ appeals to the Brain.
Low Contrast equals low Attention: Sharp, strong contrast between letters and background help the brain focus on the brand name and makes for a more memorable logo.
Semantic Content: When designing an acronym logo, it helps to capitalize all letters. Otherwise, the brain is prone to seek semantic content instead of reading the separate letters.
Keep your legacy: Depict your origin whenever possible. When it comes to a product, the brain seeks to know from whence it came.
A strong, memorable logo is an important component of your brand expression, which should inspire in individuals a strong, albeit usually subconscious response. Essentially, advances in neuroscience help us to better understand how this process works.
We already know that strong brands evoke strong activity in our brains, independent of product categories.
Recent studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, show that strong brands activate a network of cortical areas involved in positive emotional processing and associated with self-identification and rewards. Strong brands were also processed with less effort than weaker (less familiar) brands, which showed higher levels of activation in areas of working memory and negative emotional response. In short, our brain tends to trust what we know and is reluctant to go with the unfamiliar.
For businesses looking to avoid costly and all-too-public mistakes with potential brand image and loyalty damaging consequences, measuring consumers’ responses at the subconscious level of the brain is a new and inspiring way to ensure success. As Neurofocus warns though, simply asking questions using traditional research techniques will not unearth true subconscious responses: “Neuroscience proves that attempting to divine accurate and reliable answers to these questions through articulated responses is prone to failure”.