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Yeonsoo Kim
Journal Article
Chosen Journal: Logo design in marketing communications:
Brand logo complexity moderates exposure effects on brand recognition and brand attitude.
Simplicity and Complexity in Logo Design
Abstract
Quick recalling of business is important and it helps the brands survive in the harsh competitive market. A simple logo
is a good way of marketing in a sense, it is easily recognized and memorable. For example, FedEx has redesigned their
logo which is simpler and eye-catching. They used simple negative space to create an arrow that represents progress
and forward-looking company’s nature of the business, it has won over 40 design awards. But sometimes complex
logos can work better for some companies, such as Starbucks. There is an article that brand logo complexity moderates
exposure effects on brand recognition and brand attitude (Bo van Grinsven & Enny Das (2016). Logo Design in
Marketing Communications: Brand logo complexity moderates exposure effects on brand recognition and brand
attitude). I will look into two different styles of logo and analysis several dimensions individually.
Keywords: brand logo; simplicity; complexity; recognition; effects
Introduction
Logo is primarily meant for the people who are the customers of the products or services that a company
is selling. Since people or targeted audience do not have time to have a closure and analytical look at a logo
design, it is the wise movement to keep the design simple.
But there is a different view that brand logo complexity moderates exposure effects on brand recognition
and brand attitude.
Although good logos are essential for creating brand awareness and brand equity, the effects of logo design
features have not been tested empirically. Extending previous findings regarding the effects of design complexity
and exposure in advertising to the field of brand logos, two experiments tested the effects of logo complexity
and exposure on brand recognition and brand attitude. It was hypothesized that logo complexity moderates
the effects of exposure on logo recognition and brand attitudes, such that exposure increases recognition and
positively impacts brand attitudes in particular for complex logos.
(Grinsven, B., Das, E.)
Fig. 1 Bass, S. Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company. Copyright: Longwan.
Simplicity and Complexity in Logo Design 02
I will compare two differnt types of logo which are FedEx and Starbucks, analyses how simple logos and
complex logos are impacted on different brands in different ways indivisually.
Logo Design
A logo is a perspicuous glyph or symbolic, identifying mark that conveys origin, identity, or ownership. The
main function is to elicit recognition. The object of a logo is to act as a mnemonic device and identifier, to
communicate a desired thought or feeling, and to generate a desired emotional response. A thought-provoking
logo design can strengthen your brand image and corporate identity, giving you a psychological advantage over
your competition. Your logo is the core of your corporate identity, defining and symbolizing the character of
your company or organization.
(Logo Design Source)
There are three basic types of the logo in design industry which are logotype, logomark and combination
mark.
A logotype, commonly known as a ‘word mark’, comprises the company or brand name styled various type
fonts. It is usually easy to recognize the brand name to audiences. Also type fonts shows in hundreds and
thousands of variations which includes shapes, sizes, and styles. Heavy fonts declare power and strength,
on the other hand slanted type fonts express a sense of motion or movement. Script fonts signify a sense
of formality and clarification. Type fonts can also add hand-drawn letters, characters or symbols that have
been designed in such a way as to fascinate the eye and capture the interest. Images can also be combined
into a logotype.
Logomarks are fascinating yet obvious images that are symbolical of a particular company or product.
They use imagery that conveys a literal or abstract representation of organisations. Symbols are less direct
than straight text. In order for a symbol to be a effective logo, it should be instantaneously recognizable,
memorable, illustrative in nature, either concrete or abstract and
clarified when reproduced in small sizes.
Combination Marks are images; graphics or illustrations with both text and a symbol that manifests the
brand image that company or organisation wish to project. Simple text can support an icon, providing
supplemental clarity as to what brand enterprise is all about.
As mentioned above, A logotype is easy to recognize the band identity, it represents as a simple logo
design. Logomarks and combination marks are less direct than straight text, but there are some particular
part of strengths. I will look into two different styles and analyse it on the following pages.
Fig. 2 FedEx logo. Copyright: Service Client Gratuit. Fig. 3 Starbucks logo. Copyright: delish
Simplicity and Complexity in Logo Design 04
FedEx Logo Design
Simplicity that keeps clutter and complexity away from logo design. A design aware of the importance
of simple design will surely remove complex design elements. Moreover, simplicity itself is an attraction.
Simple design makes brand symbol effective and communicating. Simplicity also is helpful in creating a
hidden business message in a logo design. Wise designers and business carefully use negative spaces to
explain hidden depth, which once found by the viewers remains with them due to aesthetic value of the
design. FedEx logo uses negative space to create an arrow that symbolizes progress and forward looking
approach of the company.
Simplicity and Complexity in Logo Design 05
Starbucks Logo Design
Starbucks is a global coffee giant, which was founded in 1971 as a local coffee bean retailer.
Headquartered in Seattle, the company is now the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain, comprising of
approximately 20,891 stores in 62 countries. … Starbucks logo is a unique design that unfailingly
catches the interest and attention of onlookers.
(Raghav)
The original Starbucks logo shows a siren, or twin-tailed mermaid. Sirens lured sailors to shipwreck off
the coast of an island in the South Pacific in Greek mythology. The logo was used by the original Starbucks
founders to attract coffee lovers in everywhere. The original Starbucks logo has been changed a lot. The
most dramatic change was in the year 1987 when the company was acquired by Howard Schultz. The
original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice was also changed into Starbucks Coffee. Schultz cleaned
up a bit and added a more corporate polished look and feel to this business logo design. Despite of all the
dramatic changes made to the design, Starbucks logo still retains its original ‘Mermaid’ icon.
The logo has evolve over time with rapid growth in the popularity of Starbucks. In fact, the logo has
become one of the most recognizable icons across the globe.
The design of Starbucks logo inlcudes the originality and uniqness of the brand, it shows their brand
history behind it at the same time. And also it reveals how complex logos can be successfully done in a
different way with simple logos in the world.
Starbucks logo is one of most recognized business logo design that’s adored by coffee lovers from across
the globe. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the unique concept of Starbucks logo design
has contributed immensely in the company’s success worldwide.
Although good logos are essential for creating brand awareness and brand equity, the effects of
logo design features have not been tested empirically. Extending previous findings regarding
the effects of design complexity and exposure in advertising to the field of brand logos, two
experiments tested the effects of logo complexity and exposure on brand recognition and
brand attitude. It was hypothesized that logo complexity moderates the effects of exposure on logo
recognition and brand attitudes, such that exposure increases recognition and positively impacts
brand attitudes in particular for complex logos.”
Simplicity and Complexity in Logo Design 06
Conclusion
Simple brand logos were more quickly recognized than complex brand logos, that complex logos benefited
most from repeated exposure. These findings underscore the role of logo design characteristics in creating
brand recognition (Henderson and Cote 1998).
Brand logo complexity has proven to be a crucial factor in brand logo recognition and brand
attitude. These findings add to previous research that a more explicit guideline is presented concerning the
use of simple or complex brand logos.
Bibliography
*Bo van Grinsven, Enny Das. (2014) Logo design in marketing communications: Brand logo complexity
moderates exposure effects on brand recognition and brand attitude.
Brand Folder (2017) Logo Design Quote photograph. At: Longwan online. Available from: https://
www.longwan.co/logo-design-quote/ Accessed 10 January 2018.
*Gordon Graham. (2008) The LOGOS experience.
*Joana Cesar Machado, Leonor Vacas de Carvalho, Anna Torres, Patrício Costa. (2015) Brand logo design:
examining consumer response to naturalness.
Logo Design Source. Available from: http://www.logodesignsource.com/types.html
Accessed 10 January 2018.
May, M. (2012) CO.DESIGN. Available from: https://www.fastcodesign.com/1671067/the-story-behindthe-
famous-fedex-logo-and-why-it-works Accessed 10 January 2018.
Raghav, S. (2016) designhill. Available from: http://www.designhill.com/design-blog/starbucks-logooverview-
of-design-history-and-evolution/ Accessed 10 January 2018.
Unknown. FedEx logo photograph. At: Service Client Gratuit online. Available from: https://serviceclient-
gratuit.com/fedex/ Accessed 10 January 2018.
Weinberg, S. (2017) Starbucks logo photograph. At: delish online. Available from: http://www.delish.
com/food/a55885/the-most-absurd-things-people-have-asked-baristas-to-write-on-a-starbuckscup/
Accessed 10 January 2018.

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