When it comes to logo design, companies have a difficult choice to make. Should they follow logo style trends in their industry? Or should they strive to set themselves apart?
For decades, logo styles have followed broad trends based on market research. Researchers have asked the questions: What types of visuals do women aged 18-25 find most appealing? What color schemes appeal most to men living on the west coast? Moreover, what factors contribute to the appeal of certain designs over others?
At Venngage, we love digging into the psychology of design, from color psychology, to font psychology, to Facebook ad design. So we teamed up with SurveyMonkey to find out which logo styles consumers find most trustworthy.
We sought to answer a few specific questions:
- Do men and women prefer different logo styles?
- Do people of different age groups prefer different logo styles?
- Do people from different regions prefer different logo styles?
- Are certain logo styles more trustworthy than others?
- How much do any of these demographic factors really matter when it comes to picking a logo style?
Here’s how we looked for answers.
SurveyMonkey and Venngage surveyed over 1000 adults age 18 and over living in the US. Respondents for these surveys were selected from SurveyMonkey Audience, SurveyMonkey’s online survey panel. Responses were balanced on age and gender to ensure representative responses.
The survey showed respondents a series of logos for imaginary companies in 6 different industries: jewelry retail, education, financial services, law firms, news/media and tech. Six variations of each logo were presented:
Horizontal Logo Style
Filled Style Logo Style
Text Dominant Logo Style
Outline Logo Style
Icon Dominant Logo Style
Icon Only Logo Style
Respondents were asked to rate how much they trusted each logo style from “A great deal” to “not at all”. They were also asked to pick a descriptive word for each logo style out of a list. The descriptive words ranged from “Trustworthy” to “Innovative” to “Boring”.
They were also asked to look at a series of the same logo in different color schemes and pick their favorite.
So what did we find?
When it comes to consumer trust, a logo can only do so much
Ok, this may seem obvious. But this point is worth emphasizing, since a lot of time and resources can be spent testing different logo designs, with little impact.
Our data showed that the perceived trustworthiness of a brand probably has more to do with how much people trust the specific industry, rather than the logo design.
The most trusted logos were education and financial services. On the other end of the spectrum, the law firm, news/media and tech logos were considered the least trustworthy.
While we can’t come to any concrete conclusions, we did speculate that people may be more inclined to trust an education brand (research, expertise, etc.) when they see it, versus a media brand (bias, consumerism, etc.).
Consumers want brands to be upfront
For the law firm, news/media and tech brands, the least trusted logo style was icon-only. Similarly, the least trustworthy logo style for the retail jewelry brand was icon dominant. Alternately, the most trusted logo styles for those industries were the filled style (law firm and news/media) and text dominant (tech).
This indicates that people may be more likely to trust typically “less trusted” industries if they are clear about who they are and what they do.
Read our guide: How to Create a Brand Style Guide Like These Top Tech Companies
Do men and women prefer different logo styles?
Generally, men and women both preferred the same logo styles.
It’s worth noting that the brands in the survey were gender-neutral brands. The results may differ if we were to test brands marketed towards a specific gender (such as beauty products) where people have an expectation of what design choices indicate a feminine vs. masculine product.
Do different age groups trust different logo styles?
Different age groups preferred the same logo styles, with the exception of financial services and news media.
For news/media logos, consumers 60 and under preferred the horizontal logo style. Meanwhile, consumers 60+ preferred the filled logo styles.
The style and color scheme of the filled logo somewhat resembles popular American news channels that tend to have an older viewership, like CNN (median age of 60) and Fox News (median age of 65) (source).
This could mean that viewers of different age groups gravitate towards news logos that resemble ones they already trust. Ultimately, though, we couldn’t draw any concrete correlations.
Which logo color schemes did people prefer?
When it comes to picking a color scheme for your logo, start by looking at other brand color schemes in your industry.
Admittedly, there was a potential bias in the color portion of the survey. Consumers were presented first with a series of logos in the same color scheme but different styles, then they were presented with color variations of one style.
Because respondents already saw a logo they liked and trusted in one color, they may have been inclined to pick that same color during the color portion of the survey.
However, there’s a potential lesson here: people may be inclined to trust logos with color schemes that resemble other logos they have seen in the same industry.
Let’s take a closer look at the logo data each industry.
Retail Jewelry Logos
Jewelry is one of the oldest retail industries in the book. When you think of a jewelry brand, odds are you picture classic fonts, sleek design and a sense of elegance.
But the results of our study suggest that consumers may be looking for something else in their modern jewelry brand. The most popular logo style for the retail jewelry brand was the horizontal logo, with a supporting icon:
The most popular descriptive words respondents picked for this logo style were “modern”, “fun” and “innovative”. Those descriptive words may come as a surprise to some, considering the longstanding tradition of jewelry brands.
This could suggest that people may be looking for jewelry brands that set themselves apart from the giants. They may be looking for jewelry brands with modern values (ex. ethically sourced diamonds).
One example of a jewelry company using similar branding for their logo is Mejuri, the popular minimalist jewelry company currently taking Instagram by storm. Their logo also uses a sleek, rounded font with a simple symbol on the side:
The most popular color scheme for the jewelry logo was grey and purple.
Overall, more respondents seemed to trust the education logos over the other industries.
The most trustworthy logo was the icon dominant style. The most popular descriptive words for this logo were “knowledgeable”, “professional” and “helpful”.
The book symbol certainly harkens back to other education brands, like Scholastic:
This could indicate that respondents associate the logo with brands they were familiar with as students, which could lend to its trustworthiness.
Meanwhile, the least trustworthy logo was the filled style:
That being said, the difference was relatively small (45% to 32%). This indicates that while the icon dominant style may be more compelling, the filled icon style could still work.
The most popular logo color scheme for education was black and blue. Many university logos use black and blue, which could perhaps impact consumers’ preferences.
Financial Services Logos
The most trusted financial services logo was the outline style. That being said, the votes were fairly evenly split across the different styles.
Overall, the most trusted logo style was the outline. This could be because it’s a simple logo design that consumers may find reliable. The top words used to describe the logo were “modern”, “boring” and “professional”–characteristics that many people probably want to see in a financial services brand.
Meanwhile, the least trusted logo style was horizontal:
Considering how similar the two logo styles are, it’s difficult to discern why the outline logo is more popular than the horizontal one–but that may be why the gap between the different logo styles was smaller than in other industries. Maybe people find the horizontal style a bit too excited? (OK, that may be a bit of a stretch.)
Both logos resemble other financial services brands like MasterCard, State Farm and Citi.
Similar to the education logos, people may gravitate towards financial services logos that resemble ones they are already familiar with.
Interestingly, the most popular logo color for financial services was green. This is likely because people associate green with money. Conversely, perhaps they associated the red logo with “being in the red”.
Law Firm Logo
When it came to the law firms, there was a wider gap between the most trusted and least trusted logo styles.
The most trusted logo style was filled (48%). Interestingly, virtually all of the biggest law firms in the USA use a simple text-only logo style. This could indicate that there may be an opportunity for law firms to set themselves apart by using a simple image in their logos.
The least trusted logo style was icon-only (13%). This could be because the simple K symbol doesn’t reveal as much about the business as the filled style.
The most popular color scheme for the law firm logos was blue and grey.
Top American law firms like Kirkland & Ellis, DLA Piper, Jones Day and Clifford Chance use similar color schemes, fonts and compositions.
Like I mentioned earlier, the most popular logo style for news/media was filled. This was also the most popular design with respondents over 60 years of age.
This may be because it resembles popular news channel logos:
The second most popular news/media logo style was text dominant:
Text-only logos are popular in the news/media industry. Some of the most popular news sites like the NPR, Wired and the Huffington Post use a text-only logo design with one or two accent colors. So once again, people may be more likely to trust news/media logos that remind them of brands they already trust.
The most popular color scheme for news/media logos was red and black. That’s unsurprising, since many news and media brands use those color schemes.
Tech Company Logos
The tech industry is one of the most varied in terms of products and branding. That being said, there are some design trends that can be identified.
Bold, saturated colors are popular right now, along with typography-centric designs. These trends are reflected in the most popular tech logo styles.
The most trusted tech logo style was text dominant. The most popular words to describe it were “modern”, “innovative” and “professional”. It’s likely that people are looking for tech companies to be on top of trends.
Conversely, the least trusted logo style was icon-only. This could once again be because the logo doesn’t offer as much indication of what the company does.
The most popular color scheme for tech logos was grey and yellow. The potential color bias may apply here, though, since this is the first color scheme respondents were presented with.
The bottom line: test everything
Ultimately, the results of our study revealed one thing: there is no conclusive “best logo design”. In order to see what your target audience prefers, you need to test your brand collateral.
Brands have to make the choice: do they follow logo trends in their industry, or try to set themselves apart? Or do they try to fall somewhere in the middle?
Careful concept testing is crucial for making informed decisions with your branding, messaging and product. SurveyMonkey has a comprehensive concept testing guide that you should definitely check out.
We’ve also got a growth strategy guide to help you effectively set goals and track results. The guide includes some helpful templates that we use ourselves at Venngage to plan and evaluate tests.
Start with a logo template
If you’re a small business trying to get your name out there, it can be costly to commission a logo designer…especially if you’re still in the testing stages.
That’s why it can be helpful to use a logo maker with templates that you can customize.
Start by picking a logo template with the composition you’re looking for.
Finally, apply your brand colors using Venngage’s My Brand Kit.