How a logo can affect brand appeal and recognition

Article  \  2 Oct 2019

What's in a name logo?

A recent study published in the Journal of Marketing Research provides valuable insight into the significant effects of logo design on brand appeal and recognition.

In short, the study demonstrates that descriptive logos can ‘positively influence brand evaluations, purchase intentions, and brand performance’. The research indicates that consumers regard descriptive logos as more authentic and find these logos easier to process and remember.

Designing a (good) descriptive logo

Descriptive logos describe the characteristics of goods or services by using text and visual design elements to create positive mental associations. For example, a coffee shop that incorporates a coffee cup into its logo design will benefit from consumers’ association with the image and the great feeling of that first cup of coffee in the morning.

When designing your new logo, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If your brand is well-known, consumers will already have an established idea of your brand, and a descriptive logo will be less effective.
  • If you market goods or services that have negative connotations (think acne treatment, funeral homes, or bug spray), you may want to stay away from descriptive logos entirely.
  • As discussed in this AJ Park article, an easily marketable brand doesn’t always make a legally protectable trade mark, and a logo that is too descriptive might face registrability issues.
Balancing descriptiveness and legal enforceability

Once you’ve completed the design, you’ll want to register the logo as a trade mark. Securing a trade mark registration will notify others of your rights and make it easier to stop others from using a logo that is similar to yours.

However, you’ll only be able to register your logo as a trade mark if it is distinctive. A distinctive logo is one that distinguishes your goods and services from your competitors’ and acts as a badge of origin.  While a logo consisting of only the plain outline of a coffee cup may be descriptive and easily-marketable, it might not be distinctive enough to qualify for registration as a trade mark.

Going forward

A logo that is both effective and legally enforceable will show some of the characteristics of your brand’s goods and services, but will still be distinctive enough to qualify for registration. As you’ll see below, using colours, lines, images, stylised fonts or a house mark in your logo will help ensure that your descriptive logo is still a registrable one. 

Whats in a logo article image

If you’re unsure of how to strike this balance between descriptiveness and legal enforceability, get in touch with one of our trade mark experts.

If you’d like more information on the topic, take a look at this AJ Park video explaining how you can ensure your brand is both marketable and legally enforceable.

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